Technicolor’s Mill Film recruiting globally for Adelaide studio

Technicolor’s Mill Film Adelaide studio is drawing on local and international talent to build its workforce which is expected to grow to 300 employees by the end of 2019.

The visual effects studio, comprised today of 140 employees including management and operations, is working from a temporary space in Adelaide’s west, and is anticipating a move into its permanent home within the CBD Myer centre by mid-June.

In 2018, Technicolor and its brands – MPC, MR. X, Mikros and Mill Film – worked on 40-plus titles for major studios including A Wrinkle in Time, Predator, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The New Mutants and 14 episodic projects from Mr. X including new seasons of American Gods, Carnival Rows, Narcos, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Vikings. This is in addition to its film credits related to Jungle Book, Wonder Woman and The Shape of Water.

Mill Film specifically, is focused on providing world-class visual effects for feature film and episodic production markets for major studios and streaming services. The Adelaide studio is expected to grow to 500 employees over five years.

Mill Film Adelaide’s managing director Mark Thorley says the studio is currently actively recruiting for a variety of positions in areas of animation, lighting and environment. The hiring will be a combination of established professionals in the market as well as emerging talent coming out of universities through Technicolor’s Academy.

Mill Film Adelaide’s managing director Mark Thorley.

Mark confirms that the academy has already taken on 40 graduate positions, with a second intake for the one-year paid learning and development program now under way.

“It’s pretty unique from an Australian perspective,” he says. “We pay these individuals from day one and then bring them on the floor once they’ve graduated.”

Mark moved to SA from Queensland to take up his position and says Adelaide’s lifestyle strengths played a part in the company choosing the southern state to expand the brand.

“It’s a great city, in an amazing part of the world, offering the combination of great talent and lifestyle,” he says. “Adelaide is Australia’s best kept secret. We’re thrilled to be here and business is off to a great start. I am incredibly proud of the great work we are doing and can’t wait for the final product to reach audiences everywhere.”

The announcement that Adelaide would welcome a Mill Film studio came in 2018 and was received as a game-changer by the state’s creative industries. The former Labor government also announced its backing of the project with $6 million from the Economic Investment Fund. More than a year later, Mill Film Adelaide has secured its first 12 months’ worth of work.

Mill Film is currently working on Dora The Explorer, an adaption of the popular animation series, and will announce further projects in late 2019, early 2020.

Dora The Explorer is in cinemas from August 2.

“Technicolor is always looking for locations that can offer a new talent pool of skilled VFX artists and therefore we started talking to several state governments before deciding to settle in SA,” Nathan says.

“In addition to (state and federal Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects) rebates, Adelaide offered an opportunity for expansion because of its pool of proven creative talent, access to universities to develop and nurture talent, and the infrastructure already in place for such high-end projects, inclusive of internet infrastructure to allow us to move large amounts of data around,” Nathan says.

“This combined with the lifestyle and quality of life in Adelaide makes it the perfect environment for fostering creativity.”

Nathan Wappet, Technicolor Production Services COO, says the industry is currently experiencing one of its biggest shifts, brought on by an unprecedented demand for content.

“The shift is so massive, it’s changed the definition of what a studio is, with new entrants Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon Studios setting the bar, and traditional studios announcing their own content distribution platforms,” he says.

“These changes are blurring the line between feature and episodic; short and long form, to the point where quality expectations and production values are the same for all content creators, regardless of distribution platform.

“In the midst of this shift, Technicolor, and its brands are in an unparalleled position to deliver on clients’ and project needs without compromising quality by optimising picture, sound, and visual effects services.”

A scene from ‘Gladiator’ for which Mill Film won an Oscar for visual effects.

Technicolor’s presence in SA is a boost to not only jobs in the state, but the overall local VFX industry, which already home to large VFX house Rising Sun Pictures as well as boutique studio Resin, both of which have an international reach.

Nathan says existing VFX businesses in Adelaide will benefit from Technicolor entering the market as the company often needs to outsource some of its VFX and animation work.

“These studios would be the most likely beneficiaries of any local outsourcing as well as the training and growth of a local artist and technology talent pool. It is a winning proposition for all players,” he says.

Mill Film is anticipating on being a VFX, animation and content production of excellence with hopes of mirroring the success of Technicolor’s MPC Film Montreal studio which grew to more than 1000 people in 2018.

Mill Film’s global managing director Lauren McCallum has a vision for Mill Film to be the most inclusive tier-1 studio in the world, putting talent first and embracing diversity in its work.

“Adelaide helps us achieve this by allowing us to tap in to a talent pool we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to – opening up new pathways in to the industry for even more diverse creatives,” she says.

“The demand for visual effects content has exploded in recent years and we don’t anticipate this will slow down.”

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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What’s next for Anton Andreacchio and Jumpgate VR?

Bold moving images of the South Australian landscape changing over three billion years are soon appearing at the renowned Venice Biennale, and Anton Andreacchio is among the Adelaide creative team making it happen.

“It started with an exhibition in Adelaide at the Hugo Michell Gallery and everyone was so blown away in the contemporary space they suggested we submit to the Venice Biennale,” Anton says.

Now Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe by artists James Darling and Lesley Forwood with Anton’s Jumpgate VR, composer Paul Stanhope and the Australian String Quartet is the only Australian project this year selected as an Official Collateral Event.

The stunning installation headed to Italy centres on a shallow 30m-long pool flooding an historic Venetian building, rock-like microbial structures will emerge from the water while a 36.5m-long and 3m-tall moving image artwork towers over its sides.

James Darling & Lesley Forwood, Living Rocks: A Fragment of the Universe, 2018, Adelaide, digital video (20-minute loop), 1.5 tonnes Mallee root & 4,000 litres of water, 1612 x 464 cm; Installation view at Hugo Michell Gallery, 2018. Photo by Sam Roberts Photography.

It is yet another impressive achievement from the creative company Jumpgate VR that further adds to its growing global reputation. In 2015, Anton’s thriving business created what is believed to be a world first virtual reality symphony with the Adelaide orchestra, the performance attracting work from all over the world.

For Anton, Adelaide has been the ideal place to launch his creative businesses, with the first digital agency Convergen started in 2009 with his brother Carlo.

Since then they co-founded four other companies, virtual reality company Jumpgate VR, film production company Double Bishop, and data science consultancy GMTI Consulting. Just a few weeks ago they also started post-production company Artisan Post Group with Michael Darren.

“We are already doing some of the post-production work on The Hunting currently shooting at Adelaide Studios, and we’ve just landed our first Hollywood horror movie that is about to enter post-production,” Anton says.

As the businesses continue to grow Anton has also emerged as a leading voice promoting the state’s creative industries. He is now a board member of the SA Film Corporation Board, Adelaide Film Festival and the inaugural Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, which has supported the launch of the new SA Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.

Anton Andreacchio of Jumpgate VR is the latest I Choose SA ambassador. Photo by JKTP.

His business is also taking a lead in moving into the State Government’s ambitious Lot Fourteen hub being created at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital in the CBD to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The 7ha neighbourhood is designed to bring together start-ups, mentors, corporations, researchers and investors with creatives in a bid to nurture talent in some of the world’s fastest growing industries.

Anton’s team of 14 staff will be spread between Lot Fourteen’s Eleanor Harrald building and the current Adelaide Studios office, home of the SA Film Corporation in Glenside, “as it’s important to also be part of that industry base”.

An office in Melbourne has been closed with Anton saying it was an important space for building interstate relationships but has now served its purpose. The company is keen to remain nimble in a quickly changing world.

“It’s almost impossible to see more than six months ahead, particularly with how fast tech is changing, there was 100 years of change happening in 10 years and then that change is now happening in one year,” he says.

It’s not only the arts world where the suite of companies are rising stars. There’s a strong relationship with industry-based training organisation PEER and contracts in the sporting world after Jumpgate joined forces with the Australian Football League a few years ago.

Jumpgate VR created what is believed to be a world first virtual reality symphony with the Adelaide orchestra in 2015.

It’s cutting edge work with the game’s elite athletes to improve performance using virtual reality headsets to see replays or new game play simulations and has seen its AFL club clients swell from one to four.

Anton believes a key to building successful companies is taking “an Adelaide approach, let’s build relationships, then ask where it fits”.

“We’ve had to have a local sensitivity but a global focus, but wherever we work we like to act like we are local,” he says.

“We’ve found we have to be relationship focused and it’s not constructive to be over promising, in the entrepreneurial and tech space there’s a lot of over-promising.”

It is a consistent message from the young achiever who has a strong belief in the future of the state’s creative industries.

“I feel excited about the year ahead, we are in a great position, there is just so much to do and it’s good fun,” he says. “We are planning for our future as well as looking at what’s happening in SA and thinking this is a great time to be here, we are kind of countercyclical in SA from the rest of the country … we’re finding there’s more demand than ever.”

Anton Andreacchio is Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassador for creative industries.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Local talent behind SA-made film Hotel Mumbai

South Australian-made film Hotel Mumbai has hit cinemas across Australia and overseas, based on incredible events that unfolded at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai during deadly terror attacks in 2008.

Hotel Mumbai is SA director Anthony Maras’ debut feature, filmed partially at Adelaide Studios within the SA Film Corporation, as well as on location in India, in 2016.

The film is based on the real-life events that unfolded at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in November 2008, when gunmen stormed the building in a string of attacks carried out across the city over three days, killing 164 people.

Filming started in 2016, with Adelaide Studios transformed to replicate the opulent interior of the luxurious palace hotel, where heroic staff made sacrifices to save their guests.

On set at Adelaide Studios during the filming of Hotel Mumbai.

Anthony Maras, who is well-known for his 2011 short film The Palace, spent a year researching and interviewing survivors and co-wrote the film alongside John Collee. The film stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs, and Adelaide actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey and received a standing ovation at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year before its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Julie Ryan who heads Adelaide production company Cyan Films was one of six producers on Hotel Mumbai and says about 230 people were employed during filming and post production, with 66% of them from SA.

Although the Glenside film precinct is a world away from the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Julie says the set was adaptable in replicating the hotel’s interior.

Director Anthony Maras, centre, on set.

“Given the Adelaide Studios were built in the late 1800s – and the Taj was early 1900s – it meant that some of the architecture could match and we could build the sets and utilise things like the window frames and high ceilings,” she says.

“The studios and tenants were extremely adaptable and helpful, particularly the tenants on the second floor who allowed us to film in their corridors outside their offices.

“There are moments in the film where you come out of a corridor in Adelaide and literally walk into a set in Mumbai – and that’s the genius of (production designer) Steven Jones-Evans.”

Completing post-production and assisting in the execution of the seamless transitions between interior scenes in Adelaide and exterior scenes in India, was local company KOJO.

Dev Patel plays Arjun, a brave waiter at the hotel.

KOJO’s post production and VFX team was engaged in post-supervision, picture and sound services and VFX on the film, taking on additional staff to work on the project.

Executive director of KOJO’s post production/visual effects department, Marty Pepper, was Hotel Mumbai’s VFX supervisor and DI colourist.

Marty, whose portfolio of work includes Storm Boy, I Am Mother, and soon-to-be-released Top End Wedding met director Anthony Maras back in 2005 when working on Wolf Creek.

Actor Angus McLaren plays Eddie.

He describes Hotel Mumbai as an “all-consuming project” after being involved from pre-production stages and travelling to India three times during filming.

“It was a very holistic thing, I feel as if I almost lived it (the film) for those years,” he says. “There is an incredible sense of respect in the film (for victims and survivors) and that was led by Anthony.”

KOJO worked on 750 shots in the film, with the company’s entire post-production and VFX team involved “in some shape or form”.

“When we shot at Adelaide Studios the art department was quite incredible in turning the space into a luxurious hotel, and we played a part in how that was all integrated into the scenes in India. Part of the VFX was making sure the light and colour transitioned seamlessly,” Marty says.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey on set.

Hotel Mumbai is one of a string of films recently made in SA, a state which producer Julie Ryan and KOJO’s Marty Pepper both say punches above its weight in the film industry.

Julie notes the representation of SA films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with four of the six Australian films screened at the event having a connection to SA – I Am Mother, Animals, The Nightingale and Top End Wedding.

“When you look at the recent Sundance Film Festival and add up how many of the Australian films had connections to SA it really does show that we are punching above our weight,” she adds.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Blockchain’s next links – from online games to government documents

Blockchain has been an ambiguous technological concept in the minds of many – despite great excitement about its potential and enthusiastic recent spruiking by the South Australian government.

Now its function has gained some clarity for mainstream audiences through being used as a pivotal component within an innovative online game being devised in SA.

Forever Has Fallen is a conspiracy thriller game that will be played across different media types such as social media, websites, mobile and real-world events such as scavenger hunts and escape rooms.

The game will use blockchain technology to register ledger functions that players use to verify where they are in the game, along with ownership of digital goods and collectibles, and issuing rewards for completing tasks.

The attractive function of blockchain is that it allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. It serves an incorruptible digital ledger of separate blocks of information that are chained together in sequence, time stamped and managed by a cluster of computers rather than a single entity.

Blockchain is a pivotal component of the locally developed online game Forever Has Fallen.

Therefore, no centralised version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt, making it an especially secure system for transferring financial transactions and confidential documents.

Originally devised for the Bitcoin digital currency, blockchain is now being applied by tech companies to serve other functions – with Adelaide-based marketing and communications entrepreneur Kimon Lycos being the first to apply it to entertainment and gaming with Forever Has Fallen.

Hoping to re-imagine the blockbuster screen entertainment format, Kimon has worked with his development team to present an interactive game that involves direct interaction with story characters, challenges and puzzles. At the game’s core will be Forever Coin digital tokens, a form of digital currency that will rely on blockchain technology to track and authenticate tokens used by game players.

“Our model is far more cost-effective at producing blockbuster storytelling than a conventional Hollywood movie franchise,” says Kimon. “We will be able to fuse the entertainment with game-like challenges that reward fans, and there is an entire economic system integrated within the story, where fans can buy, earn, trade and sell.”

Forever Coin digital tokens rely on blockchain technology.

While Kimon had initially planned to sell Forever Coin tokens by issuing SA’s first Initial Coin Offering, he has now abandoned this means of selling tokens. Instead, his company is planning to launch the Forever Has Fallen game concept via a podcast. He estimates that the company is about six months away from launching its podcast pilot.

“This is a digital democracy – truly interactive and live to all parties at once – which is why gamers in particular are excited by its implication,” says Kimon.

This wider application of blockchain being used beyond Bitcoin is, in the view of Kimon, the start of a fast-moving tech phenomenon. He sees the uptake of blockchain technology having a huge effect in government administration.

“Governments can address the challenges of trust and transparency while meeting the need for data protection and privacy,” Kimon says.

The thriller conspiracy game is based on a blockbuster story.

He points to Sweden’s land registry authority, the Lantmäteriet, wanting to allow buyers, sellers, banks and authorities to track a transaction from beginning to end digitally instead of using paper contracts, thus making tracking and transparency easier, because every party has information always accessible on the blockchain.

“The Dubai government is going all in. It wants all government documents secured on a blockchain by 2020,” says Kimon.

“It estimates its blockchain strategy has the potential to generate 25.1 million hours of economic productivity each year in savings, while reducing CO2 emissions.”

In a provocative article titled Death of the Bureaucrat published by the Hackernoon website, Kimon has written that “we can look forward to a revolution against governments and ironically enough it will be led by governments themselves”.

“This will be thanks to globalisation and a need for countries to be competitive in the struggle for talent, tax revenues and innovation to maintain prosperity.”

Forever Has Fallen founder Kimon Lycos.

However, the need for substantial computing power to realise all of blockchain’s potential uses means that many of blockchain’s more ambitious ideas are running ahead of current online capabilities.

“We are probably still five years away from having the readily available computing power to do all the blockchain things that people are talking about, because we don’t have the necessary storage, bandwidth and processing speeds of devices,” says Kimon.

“I liken this to the early days of the internet, when it took several leaps in the advancement of hardware and accessibility to reach where we are now. I think blockchain is on that same upward trajectory.

“Government can supercharge our competitiveness in blockchain technology,” adds Kimon. “Breakthroughs in new technology only come via support to make great leaps – and I believe that creating a world-class developer centre for excellence would result in SA having great exportable capabilities with blockchain, which is going to be enormous on a global scale.”

Check out the Forever Has Fallen trailer below! Contains very mild language and violence themes.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide’s Floodlight to illuminate interstate

Remember that television commercial showing a couple on the couch being transported to the Bahamas? Well, the Adelaide creative team behind its making is now doing some teleporting of its own.

Video and film production company Floodlight Media is opening a new office in Melbourne later this month as its staff numbers swell to meet ongoing demand.

“We found Adelaide an amazing launching pad for our business and that it continues to be an ideal place for an head office,” co-founder and creative director Cameron Roberts says.

“The city punches well above its weight in the big names it attracts to the state, and being here meant we were able to prove ourselves on a less competitive stage. It wasn’t long before clients were asking us to fly to the other states to create their content for them.”

The team started in 2015 and specialises in advertising, creative production, corporate video, online live streaming and event coverage, and Cameron says being based in the studios run by the South Australian Film Corporation in Glenside is a great fit.

“Adelaide Studios is a fantastic community and it’s great to be rubbing shoulders with the people based here,” he says.

The Floodlight Media team in its early days when the four team members once worked in close proximity. Floodlight has come a long way since then, expanding interstate.

Many among Floodlight’s clients are now from the global renewable sector including Tesla, Siemens, AGL and Neoen – after the company, established by Cameron and his brother David Roberts, also recently bought another business specialising in the sector, New Era Media.

There are many other sectors they cover including recently providing the live streaming for the Lifesaving World Championships in Glenelg and producing its television content to distribute worldwide.Then there are a number of festival nominated short films including Fisheries Cops featuring Triple J’s breakfast co-hosts Ben and Liam.

Floodlight Media started out when Cameron finished studying film and television at TAFE and joined forces with his brother David – who has 10 years experience in the film industry including working on the popular Offspring television series, 100 Bloody Acres, Sam Fox Extreme Adventures and Red Dog.

When the first projects came up Cameron says neither thought Adelaide was capable of sustaining a full-time business in their field. But they were pleasantly surprised, work snowballed, and in 2015, David met Justin Counihan at the Australian International Pedal Prix.

Floodlight Media in action on an Adelaide Studios green screen shoot of a People’s Choice Credit Union commercial via KWP!

They recognised Justin’s important background in project management, he was installed as managing director and the company was formed. It did not take long for the company to quickly expand, moving from working in a spare room in a share house in the Adelaide Hills to an office at the Adelaide Film Studios hub.

In fact, the team has doubled every year for the last three in a row.

“We now have about 15 staff, we quickly grew out of our first small office and we’re now onto our third at the studios,” Cameron says.

The largest sector of work is in commercial videos for large organisations, and then there are TVCs, including that People’s Choice Credit Union commercial mentioned earlier.

Floodlight was approached by the Adelaide creative company kwp! to help with the credit union advertisement where two people sitting on a couch are transported to a renovated home and the Bahamas by swiping their iPad.

“That was a great project, we landed the VFX work, the backgrounds are completely built in a visual effects 3D space and animated,” Cameron says.

Floodlight Media (jokingly) tries to get into the Melbourne headspace by perfecting avocado lattes ahead of the move. From left, Trent Ninos (VFX), Emily Brockbank (camera operator), Marko Leosk (creative), and Holly Howard (head of production).

Other projects include ongoing work with UniSA, and working with JCDecaux to create a series of promotional videos for the 2017 Toyota AFL finals series.

JCDecaux developed live-link billboards, through which AFL stars could interact with fans, giving them the chance to win their way to the 2017 finals series. The campaign has been viewed over 500,000 times on social media with thousands of shares and comments. There’s also been work with Bendigo Bank, Australian Fashion Labels and the RAA.

“Given the business initially grew entirely from word of mouth, it was clear to us that our SA clients really appreciated our passion, quality and commitment to their product,” photography director David says.

Opening the Melbourne office on March 25 is about expanding the client base.

“We were surprised to find that our approach to film production was in high demand in Melbourne and we increasingly found clients willing to fly us over despite the fact the city has a lot of great production companies,” managing director Justin says.

“So it felt like the natural next step to officially set up shop there to be supported by our Adelaide head office.”

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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VFX studio Resin reaching new heights as projects soar

Post production rebates, revolutionary high-speed internet networks, and a growing reputation for world class visual effects (VFX) work are just some factors Adelaide studio Resin says is boosting business.

The opportunity to grow at the small VFX studio specialising in long-form series and feature film VFX has prompted the Adelaide born and based Resin to branch out and open offices interstate.

At the end of 2018, Resin expanded with a new business partner to open studios in Melbourne and Brisbane, a huge feat for the relatively small business and its 14 staff and portfolio including the 2019 Storm Boy, Electric Dreams, Red Dog and Netflix series Tidelands.

The business’s founders, VFX supervisor Grant Lovering and VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, say Adelaide is a great location to co-ordinate production between the teams Resin is building in the other studios.

“The expansion opens up access to more projects coming into Australia and will enable more face time with less travel to be with our clients in those locations,” Grant says.

Resin was the primary VFX vendor for the beloved Storm Boy remake, creating a digital double of the famous pelican Mr Percival, along with ocean and storm VFX.

Resin’s VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, left, and VFX supervisor Grant Lovering are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors. Photo by JKTP.

“Virtually anything you see on TV, in a series or on film, will have VFX in it,” Lincoln says. “Sometimes it’s as simple as they’ve shot at a particular location and all the signage needs to be removed, to changing a half-built location in a studio set to a dense jungle.

“Sometimes it’s simulating something too dangerous to do practically, but the most common requirement is to fill in the gaps to make the audience believe what is presented to them on screen no matter how unbelievable that may be.”

Despite Resin’s work ending up on small screens and cinemas nationally and worldwide, the business’s founders say Adelaide will remain as the headquarters.

“Fortunately the opportunity to do this work from any location means we don’t need to relocate to Los Angeles,” Lincoln says. “Regular visits make me appreciate Adelaide’s five minute commute to the studio.”

VFX supervisor Grant agrees, adding that the rollout of the city’s Ten Gigabit ultra-fast fibre optic network has been a tremendous benefit, however, it’s the state’s sound training facilities and VFX education courses training the next generation of VFX professionals that is helping grow VFX as an industry in Adelaide.

“For the younger generation that’s coming through now, there are heaps of good (VFX and post production) courses available in SA through our universities and private education institutions,” he says.

“We have great training facilities all around us and we have brilliant physical infrastructure that allows us to compete internationally.”

A shot from TV series Electric Dreams (Sony Studios).

SA’s Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) rebate is also making Adelaide an attractive place for large budget international productions.

The offset sees companies receive a 10% rebate on their SA expenditure. Combined with the Federal Government’s PDV offset of 30%, international films can apply for a total combined 40% rebate on expenditure on post production, digital and VFX works on eligible projects.

Resin was born in 2006, with Grant and Lincoln partnering to create a post-production and VFX studio specialising in television advertisements. The work was consistently flowing and in 2010 Resin began working internationally for clients including Disney and Braun over a two to three year period.

Despite the distance between SA, the US and Europe, Resin continued effortlessly to base itself in Adelaide and complete all works from its small studio with about 17 staff at its peak.

But due to an economic downturn in the US and with the Aussie dollar soaring, international work for Resin began to contract and so the business focused itself on more local projects.

Resin’s Lincoln Wogan, left, and Grant Lovering, with the digital double of Storm Boy’s famous pelican Mr Percival.  Photo by JKTP.

By 2015, Resin had completed a few TV and film projects, including film Red Dog, when it became the sole VFX vendor for US series Hunters, with executive producer Gale Anne Hurd of The Walking Dead and Terminator franchises.

“At the end of that project we came away knowing this was our future … we pieced together that production in advertising wasn’t a growing market, shifts were happening,” Grant says.

“We were in the emergence of Netflix and all the other streamers as well so it was quite a good opportunity in the marketplace.”

With an increase in streamed content creating a demand for long-form VFX work, Resin changed its focus to rely solely on TV and film work, joining Ausfilm and focusing itself in LA. That focus led to the opportunity to work on Sony TV series Electric Dreams, an anthology of stories from Philip K Dick (Bladerunner). Resin travelled to Chicago and completed on-set supervision and VFX on two episodes, while also working on The Tick (Sony) and Queen of the South (Fox).

Growth at Resin has been on a healthy upward climb over the past three years. Grant and Lincoln say they are preparing for work to “explode”.

“We’ll need to make a decision about how much we want to grow in the next 12 months with some great projects lining up, it’s that significant,” Grant says.

Grant Lovering and Lincoln Wogan are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors for creative industries.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Carclew youth creatively inspire businesses

Picture this – just as the long hours of intense conference training begins to fuddle the memory bank, a group of young musicians steps on stage to rap the key messages.

It is a memorable summary and one where “young people have a fantastic perspective and can have a new way of thinking for businesses,” Paul Mayers, from the state’s leading youth arts centre Carclew, says.

The conference rap is among a host of creative approaches Paul previously oversaw in a program he started in England to support young people moving into new jobs in the arts.

Now, Paul has moved to Adelaide to create similar opportunities for young South Australians. Last month Creative Consultants was launched at Carclew with its first cohort of 12 talented young people aged between 18 and 29 years.

Carclew Consultants are aged between 19-29 and provide businesses with creative solutions.

Backed with two years seed funding from the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation, the plan is to charge a fee to businesses as it supplies services like role-playing customer service, redesigning social media sites or supporting budding playwrights.

The fees from businesses pay the consultants, with plans for the group to eventually deliver a surplus so proceeds can flow back to Carclew.

Paul believes there are many opportunities in the state, with his job to support and train the Creative Consultants for hire to boardrooms or community groups.

“It’s about growing the creative economy, if we can work with businesses to help them realise the importance of creative thinking it grows the sector and grows their business,” Paul, who moved to SA with his partner in September last year, says.

“I’m a convert to the advantages of SA, we’ve put in the time and effort to come here because of the opportunities.”

Creative Consultants come from diverse backgrounds and bring with them a variety of different skills.

Paul says the Manchester-based program Creative Experts was highly successful and worked with a large number of high profile businesses including Siemens and IT giant Cisco, accountants, lawyers and electricity infrastructure companies.

It helped businesses take a fresh look at problem solving, while at the same time helping young people launch their careers in the arts.

“Young people need to know that there is a path to the career they want without having to leave the state,” Paul says. “To fully develop and maintain professional momentum, there needs to be a clear line of sight from training to career.”

The Carclew program received 65 applications in its first round and Paul is keen to grow its core numbers over the next five years, with the group already having delivered work to the Adelaide Youth Orchestra, an author and an eco-friendly holiday group.

Paul Mayers are the Creative Consultants launch recently.

Members are equipped with skills ranging from digital photography, music production, dance, a muralist, work psychology, theatre work, costume and fashion design.

“A key message is that by working with us businesses can fulfil their training obligations whilst also fulfilling their CSR (corporate social responsibility) obligations,” he says.

Creative Consultants sits among a host of programs for young people at Carclew, a multi-art form and cultural organisation working to support the state’s young people aged 26 and under.

The North Adelaide-based centre also hosts workshops, exhibitions, arts events, arts projects and skill development programs – while three young creatives were awarded residencies in January.

Painter Loren Orsillo and installation and performance artist Felicity Townsend were announced as artists in residence at the historic Carclew House studios, while Jack McBride was chosen as one of Carclew’s 2018 Emerging Curators.

He will receive 12 months mentoring, with Jack saying he is keen to learn more about the field while extending “professional networks within the local arts community and assisting other emerging artists in showcasing their art for the first time”.

Carclew House in North Adelaide.

Carclew was first started in the Dunstan government era in 1972 with its goal to be a centre for creativity for young people.

“Carclew’s mission is all about helping young people navigate a changing world, supporting creative development in communities, schools and in careers,” Paul says.

He thinks it’s the right fit for a similar program to Creative Experts in Manchester where 93% of participants went on to have careers in the creative industries.

“This is a really great opportunity for me to re-do this program, we’ve hit the ground running with this because I’ve learned a lot of lessons from Manchester,” he says.

“It’s was a really emotional moment bringing the 12 young people together, it’s so exciting to meet them … to see the fire in their eyes. I’m really keen now to set up meetings with businesses and find people willing to be the early adopters of this program.”

Businesses interested in learning more can contact pmayers@carclew.org.au

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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The man who brought Red Dog, Wolf Creek to our ears

Imagine the world of film with no sound.

The infamous shower scene in 1960 psychological horror film Psycho would be nowhere near as terrifying without that shrieking strings ensemble. Nor would a shark’s fin slicing through the water in Jaws be as daunting without that unnerving musical score.

Without sound, the emotion of films would simply not be.

To veteran South Australian sound designer, mixer, editor and location recordist James Currie, making and recording sounds for film, TV and documentaries has made up more than 40 years of his working life.

Throughout his career he’s helped bring the sounds of some of Australia’s all-time classics to our ears including The Tracker, Wolf Creek, Ten Canoes, Red Dog, and Charlie’s Country. James also worked on the soon-to-be released Hotel Mumbai, shot in Adelaide.

James Currie established his sound career in the early days of the SA Film Corp. Photo by Myles Quist.

“Sound – in the case of horror movies – introduces the audience to a sense or foreboding or fear,” James says. “It’s the bottom end of the music, the high strings. It’s like the shower scene in the famous Hitchcock movie (Psycho). What drives that? The strings. It’s terrifying.”

Currently living in Carrickalinga with wife Olga, James is about to start working on a new film being shot in Adelaide this month featuring Australian actors Jacki Weaver and Jack Thompson, and Oscar-nominated US actor James Cromwell, mostly known for playing the farmer in Babe. The film, Never Too Late, is about four Vietnam veterans who once escaped from a POW camp but are now tasked with breaking out of their nursing home.

The comedy drama is the latest in James Currie’s line of work which has taken him to many corners of the world and has been celebrated at film festivals and awards nights internationally.

James was born in Whyalla in 1947, his father a fitter and turner who one day decided to move the Currie family to Adelaide. Upon leaving school, James thought about being a teacher, meeting with principal of Wattle Park Teacher’s College, beloved children’s author, Colin Thiele, who advised him that his creative and musical pursuits would suffer under the mountain of marking and other school obligations.

James Currie with Aboriginal elder and actor Peter Mingululu on the set of ‘Charlie’s Country’ in 2013.

Teacher’s college was not to be, so in the late ‘60s James attended the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, the flute being his principal instrument.

A few years in, he transferred to Flinders University’s film school where he completed a degree with first class honours.
With experience gained at the conservatorium, James knew how to operate tape recorders and had a natural talent and undeniable ear for sound.

The final examiners for his honours degree were department heads at the newly established South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC).

“They said, ‘we need you to come to the film corp to be our film mixer,’ but I knew nothing about it,” James says. “They said, ‘don’t worry, you’ll learn’. In those days you flew by the seat of your pants, and that was how I spent 11 years as a film mixer for the SAFC.”

During this time, James worked on documentaries and says documentary filmmaking gave him the skills needed to eventually transfer into feature film sound.

He progressed to working with prolific Dutch-Australian filmmakers Paul Cox and Rolf de Heer on films including Bad Boy Bubby (de Heer), The Tracker (de Heer), Ten Canoes (de Heer), Dr Plonk, which was interestingly a silent film (de Heer), Charlie’s Country (de Heer), and Force of Destiny (Cox).

James Currie filming in China with SA producer/director Mario Andreacchio.

“Rolf de Heer and Paul Cox, their expectations of a sound person were that you’re involved in the script and go right through to the festival,” James says. “With Rolf, I go off and fiddle with the sound, so it starts with the script right through to when the film is released at film festivals at Venice, Toronto, Cannes, wherever.”

While James has travelled to many corners of SA, the country, and the globe to capture dialogue and sounds on film sets, much of his work is also carried out in a Foley theatre. Foley is the reproduction of sound effects to enhance the vision in the film. Sounds can be as simple as the everyday clicking of high heels and clopping of horse hooves.

“When you shoot a horror movie, you’re getting the bits and pieces of effects and dialogue, all the other stuff is made up,” James says.

“One of the areas where you can make things up specifically and in separation is in a Foley theatre where you’re running a film and you make a sound to go with the picture – that’s part of the sound design.”

James says the oldest trick in the book is clapping coconut shells together to recreate the sound of horse hooves, while horror films such as Wolf Creek use chicken bones to recreate the sound of bones snapping, and knives slicing through melons for other violent motions.

James Currie, top left, on set with sound team Josh Williams and Mike Bakaloff. Photo by Matt Nettheim.

Over the years James has won a swag of national and international film industry awards for his sound work and attended a number of renowned film festivals across the globe.

His most memorable project is film Ten Canoes followed by The Tracker, shot in Arkaroola in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Ten Canoes was a character-building experience beyond anything I’d ever experienced before or since,” James says. “It was a foreign environment, psychically demanding, different language, diverse culture, intense tropical heat. Living in tents next to a crocodile infested idyllic looking river. At dawn and dusk every bug armed with primeval teeth rose in waves searching for food and feasted upon the slow-moving film crew.”

After building an established and continuing career, James says has a “general admiration” for what SA has to offer and admires the efforts of the SAFC to remain relevant in a forever evolving creative industry.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Sandpit creating animation solution for SA Museum

Sandpit is using its creative expertise to tackle a huge problem for museums and galleries around the world – limited space forcing large chunks of precious collections into storage.

The vibrant creative and technical business based in Kent Town is specifically working with the South Australian Museum to find an interactive animation solution for its indigenous collection.

“The indigenous collection of objects and artworks only has physical room for about 5% of the collection and most museums and galleries have this problem, we call it the iceberg problem,” Sandpit director Sam Haren says.

“We’re developing a product idea, something we are doing research on now is creating a visitor experience platform that helps address this problem.”

The innovative business was founded by Sam and Melbourne-based Dan Koerner in 2012, and also has fellow director Robin Moyer on board to lead the technical team, with offices in Adelaide and Melbourne.

It has tackled creative projects ranging from interactive solutions for the Melbourne Zoo and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for its Wonderland exhibition.

Sandpit’s work stretches interstate, including creating the Lost Map for visitors to the Wonderland exhibition in Melbourne.

Wonderland explores the history of the famed Alice in Wonderland tale and Sandpit’s role was to create the Lost Map for visitors that, in turn, triggers interactions with the Melbourne exhibition.

Sam says four different types of maps use near field communication technology to trigger “the magic”, different video, audio and interactive contents adding new layers to the exhibition.

The company’s expertise will soon attract a wider audience, as the exhibition is about to begin an international tour.

Work on the exhibition has also led to another major project working with the ACMI based in Federation Square in Melbourne to create the design concept to renew its permanent exhibition space.

The centre will close while Sandpit works in partnership with Second Story, an international company with three offices in the United States, on a nine-month concept around its layout and design.

It has been a creative journey for Sam to now be jointly running Sandpit; he was previously a board member of the Adelaide Fringe Festival for five years and also ran The Border Project theatre company.

He says it was during one of those fringe festivals that he was working with fellow Sandpit director Dan on an interactive, installation performance based at the Adelaide Zoo – and the idea for the business took hold.

Sandpit director Sam Haren.

Management at the Melbourne Zoo saw the show and asked if the two to create a more permanent experience for its own everyday visitors.

They formed a company named Sandpit – the name reflecting developing and playing with creativity but in a frame – and the ensuing project was in place at Melbourne Zoo for three years.

“We are actually working with Melbourne Zoo on some new prototypes for visitor experiences at the moment,” Sam says.

The client list for the business based in the architecture award-winning Base64 building in Kent Town is impressive.

It is working with the Google Creative Lab in Sydney to explore new ways to use technology and is also beginning another job with the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, but this is “very early days”.

Back in Adelaide, one of the company’s better known projects involved a realistic robot head called Josh, created for the Museum of Discovery (MOD.) on North Terrace until November last year.

The collaboration with animatronics props maker Marshall Tearle led to the creation of a highly realistic teenage head based on Australian actor Yazeed Daher of Safe Harbour on SBS and The Heights on ABC TV, and using his voice.

“It was created around what’s dubbed in Hollywood as Uncanny Valley, something that feels uncomfortable because it’s so real,” Sam says.

Onlookers interact with Josh, the robot at MOD. The installation was at the museum until November last year.

Josh’s eyes followed visitors, he whispered thoughts or phrases, sometimes amusing, pedestrian or surreal, and was designed to question empathy and compassion for robots and what the future of robot rights might look like.

Sam says there has been strong support for the company in SA with a permanent staff of four and more working on contract or on a casual basis, with the core production team based in Adelaide.

“We are looking to expand over the next 12 to 18 months, we’re increasingly doing more work in Sydney and Canberra,” he says.

At this stage, Sam says the creative business needed to remain nimble in a constantly changing technological world and Adelaide was a great base for its growth.

“In my experience and my career, Adelaide has always been a great place for realising and developing new and creative ideas, and having space and various ways to build on those ideas,” he adds.

Feature image: Sandpit’s Robin Moyer, Dan Koerner and Sam Haren.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Global impacts of SA’s creative industries

With our culture of collaboration, supportive start-up environment, and technology infrastructure, South Australia is home to world-leading businesses and top talents working on creative projects seen worldwide.

Creative agency KOJO, VFX studios Resin and Rising Sun, and virtual reality studio Jumpgate VR are just a few examples of SA-based businesses having global impacts and servicing the world of storytelling, film and TV, VFX and VR right here in Adelaide.

Throughout the month of March, Brand South Australia will explore the state’s creative industries as part of the successful I Choose SA campaign, discovering key industry leaders and businesses just like those above who are contributing to our economy and pushing our burgeoning creative industries forward.

Here at Brand SA News we’ll bring you the stories of creative technology businesses and industry leaders who have chosen SA as a base, are able to deliver projects for global clients, and are excelling in their fields.

First off, we’ll bring you the story of a film and TV industry veteran, experienced sound editor and designer, James Currie, who has built a 40-year career and brought you the sounds of Red Dog, The Tracker, and Wolf Creek, among a long list of other classic Aussie films.

We’ll also bring you an update on one of the most anticipated creative industry developments, the establishment of global entertainment giant Technicolor’s SA venture, Mill Film, set to create a dynamic pool of new talent and works on leading productions. The $26 million VFX studio will be located at the Myer Centre in Adelaide’s CBD and is expected to create up to 500 specialist jobs in the long term. Its focus will be on film VFX for major studios and streaming services.

We’ll introduce you to three I Choose SA ambassadors working in creative industries. They are talented South Australians who will share their experiences, explain why they choose SA and why Adelaide is the best place for them to pursue their careers. The first is duo Grant Lovering and Lincoln Wogan from film and TV VFX studio Resin, whose recent works include delivering VFX for the 2019 re-imagination of Storm Boy, a beloved tale first told through the 1964 Colin Thiele novel.

Our second I Choose SA ambassador is Anton Andreacchio who is behind Jumpgate VR and sister company Convergen and has worked on VR programs for the AFL and what is believed to be a world-first VR symphony with the Adelaide orchestra back in 2015.

Throughout our exploration of SA’s creative industries it will become clear why the state is home to the burgeoning sector. Already we know that our technology infrastructure, such as the Australian-first GigCity Network is providing businesses and specialists with affordable one gigabit connections with speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. It’s making the city a great place for creative enterprises in the software, app development, VFX, VR space to achieve their works efficiently and competitively.

Our geographic location is also advantageous, as we’re ideally located to service markets such as South East Asia, China, India and Japan, all of which are growing technology markets.

Keen to learn more? Brand South Australia is hosting an industry briefing on creative industries on Wednesday, March 6, at MOD. Guests will hear from the Minister for Industry and Skills, David Pisoni, founder and managing director of Convergen and Jumpgate VR, Anton Andreacchio, and VFX supervisor at Resin, Grant Lovering. For more info and to book tickets click here.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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