Why did you decide to move to Sydney from London?
My wife’s Australian so we’d been thinking about it for a while and the Australian government is getting very serious about incentivising and supporting film production, VFX and animation. It seemed like the perfect time to come.
What has been your impression of the Australian VFX & film industry so far?
It’s been great working at Fox Studios Australia, it’s a busy hub and I can definitely see it being globally attractive. I think the demand for film studio space, crews, and VFX will outstrip supply here for a while. Build it and they will come!
What makes ILM’s Sydney studio special?
I think we can offer something unique to filmmakers who want to make their films in Australia. We’re based on the Fox studio lot and recently wrapped production on Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder, a production for which we built a bespoke StageCraft LED volume. In sharing work with our other offices around the globe we’re working while you’re asleep! There’s been a huge amount of talent at ILM and tremendous innovation happening here and it’s an honor to have been invited into the family.
What inspired you to get into VFX?
Like many people my age I sat in a movie theatre in 1977. The lights went down, the curtains opened and an enormous Star Destroyer flew over my head. Mind instantly blown and here I am many years later trying to recreate that experience for others. Seeing Star Wars: A New Hope at the cinema literally changed my life.
What excites you the most about VFX?
The creative possibilities are endless. Helping filmmakers realize their vision and having that vision exist forever in popular culture is a very powerful drug.
We got to the point in VFX a few years ago where we didn’t need to spend all of our time and effort trying to make things ‘look real’. Realism can be achieved much earlier in the process and can ultimately be guaranteed so we’ve become freer to be more creative and not wholly in thrall to the gods of photo-realism.
If you hadn’t become a VFX Supervisor, you would be working as?
A music producer. Making music is a great way to spend your time.
Your biggest passion outside VFX?
Travel, music and movies.
What is the most unique/challenging location you have filmed in?
Aerial photography is always exciting. I recently shot a lot of aerials over New York City, with legendary pilot Al Cerullo. He’s a Vietnam veteran and is a seriously skilled pilot. I asked him for some very acrobatic shots over the East River. We got very low and very close, something I’ll never forget. NYC looks incredible from above.
The Sahara Desert was also memorable, getting caught in a sandstorm and a plague of locusts were just a couple of the challenges it threw at us.
Talk us through a few of your career highlights:
Being a founding member of DNEG was inspiring. As a bunch of runaway renegades from MPC it felt like we were in uncharted waters. We were all close friends and it was satisfying working together and seeing the company grow.
Children of Men was somewhat defining for me as a young VFX Supervisor. My work with Edgar Wright and his filmmaking team on Scott Pilgrim vs the World and The World’s End was also formative. Tim Burton liked The World’s End so much he hired me for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and working with him was an incredible experience.