F/X company as exec producer on “M&OW” – provides also technical expertise

16 March 2008

Me and Orson Welles

Variety has an interesting article about Framestore, a leading F/X company, which has started producing movies now as well. One of the first pics in question is Me and Orson Welles. The article mentions that Framestore does not only invest in the movie as executive producer but also provides it’s technical expertise – providing technology which is normally not available to lower budget movies.

This of course make me wonder what special effects we will get to see in M&OW. Having read the book there are not many scenes which I would imagine fx would be used – the sprinkler scene comes to mind but other than that…; on the other hand, I don’t know anything about filming a movie so there are probably many situations where the movie could benefit. Here’s the article:

F/X house going into producing
Framestore backing Linklater ‘Orson Welles’

Fresh from winning its first Oscar for the armored bears and icy wastes of “The Golden Compass,” U.K. visual effects house Framestore CFC is dipping its toe into film production in its own right.

The company’s new Framestore Features arm is backing Richard Linklater’s “Me and Orson Welles,” currently shooting on the Isle of Man, a coming-of-ager set in 1930s Broadway starring Zac Efron; Chris Smith’s supernatural thriller “Triangle,” set to roll next month in Australia; and a slate of five genre movies from new Northern Irish outfit Generator Entertainment, starting with Paddy Breathnach’s “Red Mist.”

Framestore is investing in the movies as an exec producer — but more importantly, it is providing its technical expertise to open up creative horizons for filmmakers operating at budget levels where state-of-the-art f/x are not usually an option.

“The idea is to use our vast toolbox of toys in a way that small and medium producers don’t normally think is possible for them” says Steve Norris, Framestore’s managing director of film. “People think this technology is the prerogative of very large- budget films, and that’s not necessarily the case.”

Framestore’s core business, of course, remains doing blockbuster effects for U.S. studios. It’s working on “Prince Caspian,” “The Dark Knight” and its first animated movie, “The Tale of Despereaux.” Sharing the Academy Award for its contribution to “The Golden Compass” has consolidated its reputation as a match for the best Hollywood has to offer.

“But as the process by which we input into a film has grown and grown and grown, we have started to think we could also be involved in a different way,” Norris says.

“We’re smart enough to know what we’re not. We’re not a filmmaking company, but we are very, very good at supporting filmmakers. We feel we can be an active creative partner alongside the producer and the director, bringing something extra to the film that it wouldn’t otherwise have, and taking a bit of risk along with everyone else.

“We’ve made a decision to get involved in a comparatively small number of things to begin with, but we want to do commercial films, and we believe we can make an economic return.”

Norris believes British producers haven’t always understood what London’s f/x powerhouses could offer them.

“People tend to see places like Framestore as big dark buildings that no one knows what goes on inside,” he says.

Since joining Framestore 18 months ago after nine years as British Film commissioner, Norris has made it part of his mission to throw open the doors and “demystify the process for creative people.”

By doing so, he hopes that Brits might be encouraged toward a more commercially ambitious style of filmmaking.

“Part of me thinks the kind of films made in the U.K. are a self-fulfilling prophecy — if people understood better what the technology can do and what it costs, they might be a little bolder,” he says.

Generator, a new venture set up by experienced producers Mark Huffam and Simon Bosanquet, has raised coin from multiple sources for a slate of $3 million movies.

“Any film in this budget range would find it very difficult to deal with certain aspects of genre,” Bosanquet says. “The reason for having Framestore on board is precisely for what they can bring creatively. We’re getting very close involvement from some of the best people and the most interesting up-and-comers in the company.”

“Red Mist,” which just wrapped shooting, is the story of a coma victim of medical malpractice who has out-of-body experiences that enable him to wreak revenge on the doctors who mistreated him. Another U.S.-set supernatural thriller, “Chatakwa Falls,” will shoot in April, followed by “Video 8,” a horror mockumentary set in Australia.

“We’re doing one film where we have to create a virtual world inside a computer game, that for a $3 million film would usually be completely out of the question,” Bosanquet says. “With Framestore as our partner, the effects might not be quite on the level of ‘Golden Compass,’ but we’ll certainly get something very interesting that I don’t think we could have done without them.”

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