Coast VFX specialist working on Hollywood blockbusters

Arts & Culture

Mark Evans has worked on blockbuster movies including King Kong, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Scooby Doo, now, the visual effects specialist calls the Gold Coast home.

Boasting international standard film studios and a great range of natural assets the make exceptional movie locations, the Gold Coast has built a world-wide reputation as an ideal place to make blockbuster movies.

But the Gold Coast now offers even more for moviemakers – and not just for the ones who film here.

Visual effects (VFX) is part and parcel of every movie, even when it doesn’t look like it.

While there are big VFX studios based in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, there is also room for smaller, more flexible satellite facilities that can turn around work quickly and affordably says Mark Evans, who runs Gold Coast-based South Pacific Animators.

After years working away from home for big studios creating VFX for blockbuster movies such as King Kong, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Scooby Doo, Evans returned to the Gold Coast to set up his own studio.

He says like many industries, VFX work has been decentralising for a while.

“There will always be big studios but as long as you have the skills, the right security protocols and access to fast internet speeds you can work from anywhere and create some world-class stuff,” he says.

Evans has clients from around Australia as well as overseas and says big studios often need the flexibility of a smaller studio that can upscale to help out with large productions or if they are looking for a specific skill set.

“There are lot of different disciplines within VFX,” says Evans.

“I do a lot of blood. Blood squibs and wounds for action and war movies (The Water Diviner, Hacksaw Ridge).

“Horror movies are also a lot of fun (Insidious 3), but my favourite is working on story-based films – creating effects that are ‘invisible’. You should be able to be immersed in a film without being slapped in the face by the visual effects you see on the screen.”

Examples of Evans’ invisible work include the digitally created moths (in conjunction with Slate FX) designed for the award-winning eerie drama series The Kettering Incident, and the mice who run all over Liam Hemsworth in the grain silo scene of The Dressmaker.

“The challenge is to maintain realism throughout the process to make people believe it’s there,” says Evans.

There is a lot of emerging VFX talent on the Gold Coast and Evans regularly takes on students.

He says small facilities are great training grounds.

“As a small, flexible studio we also explore new technologies,” he says.

“At the moment we’re playing with a 3D scanner to help create digital doubles and we’re also experimenting with VR (virtual reality).

“VR is a game changer. It’s like the early days of film. We’re inventing new ways to tell stories.

“The reason why people are involved in the VFX industry is because they love film and story. Every actor is a frustrated director or producer. It’s the same with us. Everyone wants to tell their own stories and there are plenty of creatives on the Gold Coast looking to make that kind of home grown contribution.”

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