Head of Studio, Toronto
Tell me a little about your background in VFX.
My journey began over 22 years ago. After graduating from university, studying film and new media, there wasn’t a specific next step. I knew that I wanted to contribute to the art of moviemaking in some capacity. I recall watching the film The Cell starring Jennifer Lopez. It was visually captivating, and I was compelled to find out who worked on it. When I found out the VFX was done in Toronto, I basically showed up at the studio the next day, willing to work without pay. Soon after, I started interning for the visual effects studio Toybox, a company at the forefront of VFX at that time in the city. I exposed myself to all areas of the business, learning and experimenting in every department, finally landing as VFX Designer/Compositor. I later became Creative Director/VFX Supervisor for over a decade in both commercial and VFX departments supervising key titles for Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and HBO. Additionally, I designed 75+ main title sequences that can be seen in many feature films and episodic series including the award-winning series Orphan Black.
Eventually, the company evolved from Technicolor’s group of VFX companies to being part of Ghost VFX – now looking forward to this next chapter.
In your own words how would you describe what you do at Ghost?
Think of a Venn diagram of multiple overlapping circles, where each circle represents an individual role. In these circles, I promote communication and effective ideas while keeping an understanding of client needs and trusting my team’s contributions. Navigating the expectations of all stakeholders is a large part of what I do, to help ensure our teams deliver the creative, on time and on budget.
What part of the job are you most passionate about?
Seeing our team succeed in creating compelling imagery and meeting the expectations of our clients. I also must emphasize the love of the art of storytelling, I embrace metaphor and how to build symbolism though visuals.
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?
Most recently, I was invited to supervise the visual effects for Sarah Polley’s MGM feature titled Women Talking. I had the opportunity to collaborate closely with the director and cinematographer while leading our internal team. It wasn’t originally scripted as a visual effects film but due to production constraints and location specific requirements, we jumped in delivering 350+ shots including set extensions, CG crowds and a world of compositing.
Any advice to others looking to break into VFX?
First, be kind to yourself and others, finding a balance is key to a promising career ahead. Allow yourself to question everything on screen – how did they do that? Aim to find an answer knowing that visual effects have contributed in some way to the final picture. Also, don’t expect to do it alone. Continue to build your network and ask relevant questions to inform your path forward. We help create the impossible, there is so much to learn and discover.
Where do you see the VFX industry headed in the next 5 years? What excites you about the future?
I’m not the first to cite this, but AI has been advancing in our industry and fast, everything from deep fakes, matte extractions, to helping plan/predict the next blockbuster. In the years ahead, we’ll see how much AI will be implemented into our pipelines to produce brilliant imagery faster and more intuitively. It will soon be a formidable tool in the VFX chest, affording us the ability to focus solely on the art. It's going to revolutionize our industry.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention or add?
I feel blessed to be in a career that I enjoy. I still feel challenged as the landscape of VFX is constantly evolving. I encourage others to find their passion, set goals, give 100% and good things will surely follow. Plan to be surprised!