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.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

[logooos_saved id=”36524″]

Advertisement

Homegrown VFX companies striking gold in film boost

Adelaide’s largest visual effects companies are seeing a surge in work on major Hollywood and Australian films as the state’s new 10% rebate kicks in.

Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) and Kojo have both recorded their highest growth year as the rebate for post production, digital and visual effects comes on top of the Federal Government’s existing 30% rebate.

It has led to Rising Sun Pictures establishing an entire new floor space at its Pulteney Street studio, with managing director and joint founder Tony Clark saying the studio is building on its busiest time in a 20-year history.

The space would house a projected 60 to 80 new staff as South Australia strengthens its global reputation and draws more work away from countries like rebate-rich Canada.

Hollywood blockbuster Thor launches in the theatre.

“In the past year we’ve achieved $22.7m in revenue, when you think about it over its 20 years, the company has probably contributed more than $250m to the state’s economy,” he says.

“The money flows directly from RSP staff into the economy, creating jobs for baristas, hairdressers, in schools or in housing.”

The highly regarded studio has led the way for SA, working on Hollywood blockbusters like Thor: Ragnarok and Gravity, and its current work was expected to see staff numbers peak as high as 280 by the end of 2018.

This includes work on the next Predator and the next X-Men films, along with Dumbo for Disney, directed by Tim Burton.

Rising Sun has also just finished its first major project for a Chinese film production, a fantasy adventure called Animal World that has secured a distribution deal with Netflix.

The Rising Sun crew.

Tony says he believes growth is also being spurred by the steady rise in film production in the US, Europe, Australia and China, triggering parallel demand for ever-more spectacular visual effects.

Earlier this year, another major development for the local industry was announced with global entertainment giant Technicolor saying it would open a $24m visual effects studio in Adelaide.

Its chief executive Fred Rose predicted the studio Mill Film could generate 500 new jobs in SA during the next five years.

Tony welcomes the news, saying building SA as a hub for the industry means it will attract a greater pool of talent – but means existing businesses must prepare for a more competitive labour market.

In a move to ensure more creative talent keeps appearing in the local jobs pipeline, Rising Sun Pictures has expanded its education program operating in partnership with the University of South Australia.

A new undergraduate course in visual effects skills was added to the offering and the Graduate Certificate program expanded.

The company also continues to search globally for talent, recently hiring veteran visual effects supervisor Tom Wood, who earned a 2016 Oscar nomination for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road.

At Kojo in Norwood, chief executive Dale Roberts is also feeling optimistic saying the creative services company’s film and TV section of the business “had its biggest year in history”.

Creative agency Kojo has experienced a surge in the number of project it’s taken on in the past year.

“In the past 12 months we’ve done a record number of projects, I think six, in a good year we would usually do three,” he says.

Dale says the new government rebate has certainly helped trigger more international work.

The team has worked on American-Australian thriller film Hotel Mumbai, on Storm Boy featuring Australian and Hollywood star Geoffrey Rush and earlier this year finished a second series of Wolf Creek for Stan.

“We’re also working on a new movie starring Hilary Swank called I am Mother and a new Netflix series called Pine Gap that was shot here earlier this year,” Dale says.

“Post production and visual effects is definitely the growth area for us.

“We are really good at it here in SA, we offer a world-class product out of Adelaide and because we have a different cost structure to somewhere like Sydney or London or New York, we can offer competitive pricing.”

Australian actor John Jarratt plays notorious serial killer Ivan Milat in TV series Wolf Creek.

Kojo’s numbers have increased to 90 across four offices in Australia along with about 30 contractors, with Dale saying its two other core businesses are also staying strong.

Its advertising, marketing and communications team recently won the contract for BMW events nationally, including for famed car brand Mini.

Meanwhile, Kojo sport won the contract to operate lighting, sound and video at the new Perth’s Optus Stadium – it already has the job at Adelaide Oval – and Dale says Kojo will pursue other stadium work during the year.

Kojo also has work with AFL teams Adelaide and Port Adelaide, along with Richmond, Essendon, West Coast and Fremantle.

“We’ve had an incredible year of growth, in the past year, our overall revenue has grown 20% year on year, and staff numbers have grown 12 to 15%,” Dale adds.

Adelaide-based VFX studio Resin is also experiencing growth from the state’s burgeoning creative industries sector.

The company says it has experienced 200% growth in the past financial year.

Resin’s portfolio includes the highly anticipated remake of SA classic, Storm Boy, as well as film Hotel Mumbai, which is set to open the Adelaide Film Festival in October.

The company is also currently working on the first ever Netflix original Australian produced series, Tidelands.

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.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]