Julian Levi

Executive Vice President, North America

June 4, 2024


Tell me a little bit about what your role will be at Ghost VFX?

In my role as Executive Vice President, North America at Ghost VFX, I will be working very closely with the other Executive Leadership to help the company continue to evolve in an ever-changing VFX industry. This will involve fostering Ghost VFX’s world-class talent and culture across all our global locations. Maintaining our stellar reputation for producing richly designed and executed VFX work will be paramount while broadening our footprint to work on larger portions of projects across multiple mediums.

Please describe your background in VFX?

Many years ago, straight out of college, I was lucky enough to come across a Production Assistant job at a cutting-edge production and VFX company in NYC called R/Greenberg Associates. I learned as much as I could in my down time. While not on runs, I would hang out in the different departments: miniatures, model-making, stage/live action, motion-control, editorial, opticals and the newly developing digital post, all happening under one roof. It was a hands-on education in filmmaking that money couldn’t buy. After spending some time as a Digital Artist, I switched over to the Production side of things and worked my way up to VFX Producer. After that, I moved out to Los Angeles and worked as a VFX Producer at Digital Domain for many years working on some of the most ambitious and technically challenging VFX films of the time. It was a pivotal time in the industry, and I was lucky enough to be working alongside some of the most talented people around. Again, there was so much happening in the same building. We had everyone from Fine Artists to Rocket Scientists to world-renowned model-makers all working together. This led to another long tenure at MPC as Executive Producer and General Manager. I have also worked as an VFX Executive on the studio side of the business at Paramount Studios and most recently, as the overall production side VFX Producer on Gareth Edwards’ film The Creator.

In your own words how would you describe what you do?

I believe that we, on the production and management side of visual effects, are facilitators. It is our job is to collaborate with filmmakers and help them bring their ideas to life on screen. We are responsible for bringing filmmakers together with the right visual effects talent to serve their project. To do this, we must gain as clear an understanding of what their vision is as quickly as possible and work with them to explore their options, from a technological standpoint as well as what is realistic within a project’s given budgetary and schedule requirements. I think it is important to look at any given project’s challenges from as many angles as possible and not be completely locked in to one way of doing things. It’s part of our job to be flexible and adapt to changes which are bound to happen as part of the filmmaking process. We are here to help guide our filmmaking collaborators through what can sometimes seem like a very complicated landscape, one that may be unfamiliar to them. It is also critical for us to support our talent and do everything possible to supply them with the resources, tools and guidance needed to let their creative skills shine.

What part of the job are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about the process of filmmaking. I will never cease to be amazed by how such a large group of talented people, all very good at different things, can come together and collaborate their efforts to result into one single piece of art. And I am passionate about entertaining people with the results of all these efforts. The fact that someone can sit in a theater and be moved to tears or laughter or any range of emotions from the result of so many people’s efforts will always give me goosebumps and it is why I love what I do.

Is there a particular project you worked on that you can discuss? If so, what was the project and what was the work you contributed?

Fresh in mind is one of my most recent projects and one that I am very proud of. I was the overall production-side VFX Producer on Gareth Edwards’ film The Creator. It was a very good example of how you can approach a project which had very limited resources and produce a richly crafted film. There was no single “magic bullet” to accomplish what we were able to do with the VFX. It came down to a bunch of very talented people working together, communicating with each other, sharing resources, and trusting each other. While some of what we did was, on one hand very complicated, it was also a lot of filmmaking 101, the basics of teamwork and having a whole group of people working together toward a singular vision. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have such a brilliant visionary like Gareth directing us on where to focus our attention and what was going to have the most impact and value on screen. It was truly one of those projects where everything just came together.

Any advice to others looking to break into VFX?

Be a sponge. Learn about as many components of the filmmaking process as possible. What at first you think might not have anything at all to do with what you imagine yourself doing in the long run, will come back later and give you invaluable context.

Be flexible. Don’t think that every step or every job you take will be a logical one toward your ultimate goal. Sometimes it can be a very winding road. Be willing and able to learn something every step of the way.

Where do you see the VFX industry headed in the next 5 years? What excites you about the future?

I believe that there are so many talented writers and filmmakers out there who have had the time to develop and hone their unique stories and ideas. I think this is going to result in a very big push to bring these ideas to film once the industry gets chugging again. And VFX will no doubt play a large role in many of these projects. VFX technology is developing at an incredible pace and there is no sign of that slowing down. However, like “new” technology that’s come before, the result will only be as good as the artists using the palate of tools available.

So, I’m excited that are so many very cool stories just waiting to be told on screen. And that there are so many people like me, who live to help bring these stories to fruition.