Maxime Cazaly

What course did you study?

Visual Effects Production

How did studying at Escape Studios help you into the world of VFX?

Escape gave me a solid foundation in the VFX workflow. It made me a GOOD generalist. Having a good understanding of what people do in a VFX company is really useful once you get there.

What are you working on at the moment?

Since I left Escape, I worked on 47 Ronin, Robocop, Dracula Untold, Edge of Tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending, Paddington, Legend of Tarzan and recently had the chance to work on Fantastics Beasts And Where To Find Them, and especially the Niffler! In Montreal, our small Creature FX team did all the Niffler shots. It turned out that the Niffler is actually everyone's favourite character! I'm very very proud of the work we did on that project, it looks good, people love it and the production went pretty smoothly. What more to ask for?

On Niffler, I developed the muscles and skin, to give him this little "jiggly" effect. Once the development was done, we did all the shots, tweaking the muscles, skin and more importantly the feathers. We had a few very challenging shots, such as the slow motion shots with Niffler losing all of his stolen jewellery. I spent a lot of time working on the bank vault sequence. At some point, Newt manage to grab Niffler and shake him to drop all the stolen money. That very shot when Newt put his hands on him took a good while to do. Interactions between actors and CG is always a challenge, especially when the Niffler placeholder on set doesn't really match the final shape of the CG character. Massive team effort from all departments to get this one to work!

Overall, I'm extremely glad to have worked on that project, it was difficult, but fun. I love a good challenge! Having everyone telling how much they loved the Niffler is also a HUGE compliment for the quality of our work.

Image Courtesy of Framestore and Warner Bros

What's your favourite movie and why?

If I have to pick only one, I'd say 12 Angry Men. It's a classic, and there is so many good things about it. The scenario/script are amazing, and the cinematography is extremely clever.

What lessons have you learnt during your time studying and your time working in VFX?

The VFX industry is a very competitive industry. It's the same when you are studying. Back when I was at Escape Studios, the industry wasn't in good shape, low recruitments, high number of juniors on the market. You have to be smart in your decisions, what you're going to put your efforts in. If you want to make it, you have to not only work hard, but smart. That's how I got my job, by focussing on tracking/matchmoving instead of more generalistic projects like a lot of my classmates.

Once you're in the industry, if you work hard and have a good attitude, that's most of the work done. It's a ton of fun, you get to work on amazing projects, I love it.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Image Courtesy of Framestore and Warner Bros

What were you doing before starting your course at Escape Studios?

I studied for 3 years in a French Graphic Design school, doing fine arts, 2D work (for print and web) and a bit of 3D/VFX, but pretty basic, nowhere near what Escape Studios provide. Once I finished that course, I decided that I wanted to work in film, so I moved to New Zealand for 7 months to do some backpacking and learn English. After my 7 month there, I moved to london and started my course in the summer.

How quickly after completing your course did you secure your first job?

Only took me a few weeks! I had a very solid plan to get a job, and took the right decisions. At the time (in 2012), the job market wasn't ideal in VFX. Companies where downsizing, mostly because the Harry Potter series finished, and there were less to do in general. Considering that environment, I decided to focus on Camera Tracking/Matchmoving for my reel, do it fast, simple, but good. That's really important, in the industry, we prefer simple demoreels with excellent attention to detail than crazy projects with tons of problems in them. 

Once I finished my course, I started to make my demoreel, using the work I did during the course, and adding a few more shots of camera tracking. Went in London to shoot some stuff around with my inexpensive DSLR and get myself some original material. Worked on that reel for a few weeks, and sent it EVERYWHERE. I forgot how may companies I applied to, but it was crazy. Framestore got back to me a few weeks later asking me if I wanted to work on 47 Ronin. I said yes, and that was the beginning of my career. For the anecdote, I was chilling with Noor Valibhoy, a fellow Escape Studios student who's now working at ILM Singapore, when I got my answer from Framestore. That was a moment of pure joy!

If you had to sum up your time at Escape Studios in one word, what would it be and why?

Intense. Escape was tough. I wanted to make the BEST out of it. So I worked all the time. All day at Escape until 10pm, then I would come back home and continue working for a few more hours. I loved every single minutes of it.

What is your advice for those considering entering the industry?

My best advice for students is to work hard, work as hard as you can, and when you’re finished doing that, work hard some more. Dedicate yourself entirely to whatever you’re doing. Being able to take criticism is extremely important as well; some people are a bit defensive when someone else criticises their work. Accept and embrace the critiques, because your work is going to be criticised on a daily basis in the industry. Probably the most important piece of advice though, is to love what you do. This isn’t an easy job, there is no place for lazy people, but if you are passionate about VFX, you will love every second of it.

Escape gave me a solid foundation in the VFX workflow. It made me a GOOD generalist. Having a good understanding of what people do in a VFX company is really useful once you get there.

Maxime Cazaly, Former Escapee