VFX supervisors are in charge of the whole VFX project. They manage the VFX pipeline, including all of the VFX artists that work in this process. They have ultimate responsibility for all of the VFX elements produced for a project by their studio. We caught up with Cinesite VFX Supervisor, Artemis Oikonomopoulou to find out more about her career path and what is involved in creating a shared vision for all to follow.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DEDICATE YOUR WORKING LIFE TO VFX?
I have had a love of cinema and science ever since I was very young, and VFX combines both of these. It’s always very fulfilling to see the before and after’s of a shot and how much we can contribute to the film making business.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE BUSINESS?
I studied for a BA and MA in Computer Animation at Bournemouth. While I was finishing my dissertation, we had recruiters come down to the university to scout for new talent and two weeks later I found myself with a job in London.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY TASKS AND HOW HANDS-ON ARE YOU WITH THE FILMS?
I spend most of my day looking at the work the team produces and try to steer them towards what needs to be done. I view the cuts as much as possible as new ideas can come up or things that could have been missed before. I try to be hands-on and keep up to date with technologies and the tools provided as I think that’s the best way to make sure you understand how to achieve the work or any limitations that your team might be facing and try to come up with solutions.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS IN VFX IS VERY SPECIAL, SO HOW IS THE CREATIVE PROCESS BETWEEN THE VFX SUPERVISOR AND THE DIRECTOR OF THE FILM?
You have to first understand the vision of the director and what they are trying to achieve – you need to try and visualise in your mind what they see and try to come up with solutions of how to get there. Building a strong relationship is key, one where you support and implement their ideas but also bring new suggestions to the table.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE EXPERIENCE FROM ALL THE WORK YOU’VE DONE OR THE FILM YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?
One of the most memorable projects was Ant Man. For one of the sequences, we had to recreate a young child’s bedroom which meant lots of toys! It was so great to view everything at microscopic level and try to observe the minute details.
ALOT OF PEOPLE LOOK TO YOU FOR INSPIRATION AND TO SEE WHERE THE BAR IS SET. WHERE DO YOU PERSONALLY LOOK FOR INSPIRATION WHEN YOU’RE GOING THROUGH A PROCESS AND THINKING “CAN WE MAKE THIS WORK?'”
As a supervisor, you are there to support and encourage the team, so I try to keep a positive attitude that yes, we can make it work. From a personal perspective, I watch a lot of films and I go to the cinema and art galleries weekly. When you work in a creative field, you have to keep nourishing your awareness and cultivate the observation of the world around you.
ARE THERE ANY FILMMAKERS RIGHT NOW THAT YOU’RE A FAN OF AND WOULD LIKE TO WORK WITH?
Denis Villeneuve and Yiorgos Lanthimos- very different directors but their films are always visually stunning.
IF YOU WERE TO HOST A MINI-FESTIVAL OF YOUR THREE FAVOURITE EFFECTS MOVIES, WHAT WOULD YOU PUT ON THE BILL AND WHY?
- Blade Runner – back in the days of practical fx and stunning noir photography
- Oblivion – a very beautiful shot film that didn’t receive as much recognition as I thought it deserved
- Anything by Stephen Spielberg from the 80s – it’s all the movies I grew up watching.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN THE INDUSTRY AND DO YOU THINK THE SITUATION OF WOMEN IS CHANGING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?
There are definitely more women in the VFX field now than when I first started 20 years ago. Being in the minority can be hard at times so we should all try to advertise and provide more information about our job that it can be a viable option for women. Even though it is a much-improved environment now, it can only be better once we achieve an even greater gender work balance.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE JOB MAKES YOU GRIN FROM EAR TO EAR?
Giving the great news to the artists that their shot has been finalled— especially if it was one of the more challenging ones.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU OBSERVED IN YOUR FIELD OVER THE YEARS?
VFX voices are a lot more heard these days at the pre-production and shooting stages than in the past. We are now viewed as an equal department in the film making process.
AND WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?
It will be interesting to see how far we can go with virtual cinematography in the next few years and how much it will reshape the future of shooting a film.
FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR WOMEN WHO WANT TO BE VFX SUPERVISORS?
I try not to think of myself as a woman working in VFX but as an artist just like everyone else. You have to follow your dreams and your calling despite what the norms might dictate. I’d like to think that we can live in a world where hard-working and talented people will always shine despite their background, ethnicity, or gender.