To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, Cinefex spoke to Cinesite’s Art Director Gurel Mehmet and Head of Compositing Helen Newby to find out what makes them tick.
Gurel’s career highlights include The Revenant, Inception, The Dark Knight, Atonement and The Tree of Life.
CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?
GUREL MEHMET: I love the early process of a blank slate in preproduction or at script stage. At that point anything can happen, and I love seeing the disparate parts of all the departments coalesce into something that becomes a moving train. In that exploratory stage, the parameters are fast falling into place – location, certain choices that the director might make and so on. It’s an exciting time.
I enjoy creating something from nothing, but I also like working within the constraints of what is either implied in the stage direction or just the practicality of the budgetary limitations. The camaraderie of all the smart and passionate people I work with day in, day out, is infectious and a big reward. I felt like a misfit growing up because I was obsessed with illustration and movies. My colleagues are just as passionate, so falling into this field has always felt natural.
Helen Newby is head of compositing at Cinesite. Helen lists her career highlights as The Shipping News, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Skyfall, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mute.
HELEN NEWBY: Back in ’91, I was lucky enough to land a job at RSA Films as assistant to photographer and director Lester Bookbinder. I learned all sorts including attending the telecine and postproduction sessions. It led me to have a rethink and I went on to train on Domino, a film-in, film-out digital optical system. At the time, Mill Film Shepperton had a Domino system in place and a position opened – and that’s how it started. I remember grading and outputting the title sequence for Beautiful Creatures through Domino in 2000 and thinking it was magic.
CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?
HELEN NEWBY: From a compositing point of view, the way we used to work and make images was very different to now. We had no access to cameras or anything outside of the 3D scene, unless we popped into Maya. The idea of projecting onto a piece of geometry was not an option. Interestingly, greenscreens still seem to be a regular feature.