What do the movies The Hobbit, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Pacific Rim, The Jungle Book have in common? Well, they are all heavy in Visual Effects. Though there‘s been a new appreciation for practical effects, we have to agree that none of those movies could have been made a few decades ago, when CGI barely existed outside of 8 bits video games and fancy music videos.
Those movies also have something else in common: behind the scenes, they all count on the hard work of lots of talented visual effects workers. Among them is Angelo White, who has just finished, Sorice, a short concept film that has caught the attention of Hollywood.
The Fiction Anthology (TFA): When did you start working in the movie business?
TFA: VFX workers are like an invisible force behind the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Do you think that Hollywood should do a better job recognizing the contribution from VFX artist as an important part of the crew?
Angelo White: Even though we follow the vision of VFX supervisors/directors, we still give everything to make the images look awesome. Blockbusters nowadays are mostly heavily VFX driven, so it rests on artists like us to make them work. Sometimes it does feel like they don’t appreciate what we do, like putting us at the end of the credits or not even including our names. But things are changing. You’re starting to see movies with a long list of credits for VFX artists.
TFA: Do you consider yourself more of a director or a VFX artist?
Angelo White: This is a tough question. I always dreamed of being a director. My first step was working for the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, but when I was a VFX artist for those movies, I always thought, man, what if the shot was like this, what if the story was told in another way? I wanted to create my own vision and share that with the world. I‘m a director who‘s trained in VFX / world building. To direct the films I wanted to make, I had to learn how to create those worlds first. I am now ready for the next step, to start directing VFX heavy features.
Angelo White: VFX artist know what is visually possible, they know how the process works. They don’t just create stories—they create worlds. Coming from a VFX background, it’s their natural habitat to create stories from out of this world.
TFA: What do you think is the most important artistic skill that a VFX artist brings to directing? And in terms of production?
Angelo White: I think it’s great to be a director with VFX experience. You can save money by making the right decisions, and realize that sometimes not everything has to be VFX. Sometimes we need old school practical effects. If you know the process of VFX as a director, you know what to keep in mind while shooting and you can work more efficiently.
If there’s one thing that speaks loudly in this industry, it’s money. While you won‘t learn everything there is to know about the filmmaking process in VFX, you‘ll learn a great deal about how shots are organized.
TFA: Where did the concept for your short film, Sorice, come from?
Angelo White: First it was just a simple idea. I gained so much experience in the VFX industry and I wanted to add that to a vision that I had, about a girl with a dark mysterious past. I developed the story more and it became a something unique along the way. With help of my producer H1, it all came together in this piece.
TFA: What was the biggest challenge in the shooting process? And in postproduction?
Angelo White: Saving up money to finance my own shorts was difficult: what do we shoot and what do we sacrifice due to budget? I wanted to create so much but had to limit the film to what I can afford. My main goal was to make it look like it had high production value.
I created the short on a Macbook Pro, on 3K resolution. Imagine rendering 3D footage on 3K resolution on a Macbook Pro! That didn’t work, so I saved money by using an online Renderfarm, which was really a risk because you didn’t know if there were errors until you received the final render.
TFA: How did Hollywood contact you after the short?
Angelo White: I dropped a teaser after 3 months of shooting, and was contacted by a Motion Picture Scout from CAA (Creative Artists Agency). He asked me to send him the short when it was finished. When I sent him the movie, he was so blown away that he asked me to come to LA. He set me up with producers from Original Film (Fast and Furious, Passengers), the manager of Cloverfield, and the production company of Watchmen and Hellboy. The producer on my short, H1, who is also one of the creators of True Skin, (a short who got a series deal with Amazon) also helped me with contacts in Hollywood.
TFA: What are the next steps for you?
Angelo White: I am wrapping up the Sorice script with a talented writer, Jason Erickson, and started developing the script for another horror short, Mother of Children. I will release this a week after Sorice. I have also planned to do another Sci–fi short this summer.
TFA: As a filmmaker, what are your influences?
Angelo White: Directors like Denis Villeneuve, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese really inspired me to become a director. The way they use camera movements to tell a story and build tension really amaze me. Art, in general, inspires me, and there is a story behind every piece of art.
TFA: Any words for your fellow indie filmmakers?Angelo White: Tell your story and don‘t sit on your ideas. Go out and start filming. Create what you have in mind and share it with the world!
TFA: What about for fans of the genre?
Angelo White: My genre isn‘t just sci-fi. My genre is the worlds in my mind. I plan on creating these worlds and have fun doing so. I hope fans enjoy the films that come out of my imagination.
Sorice will be available to watch in The Fiction Anthology really soon. Stay tune!!