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Framestore Consolidates Film and TV Divisions

BAFTA winner James Whitlam will head episodic work as the company brings both departments under one banner, one pipeline, and a new leadership structure.

Framestore, the Oscar and BAFTA Award-winning visual effects company, is consolidating its film and TV divisions to better handle growth demands for episodic production.

The company has announced that both departments will be brought under one banner, one pipeline, and a new leadership structure to better provide studios, producers, directors, and showrunners a single point of contact to a full suite of concept to final frame services.

The company’s episodic work will be headed by recent BAFTA winner James Whitlam, who takes on the new role of Managing Director, Episodic. He will work alongside Michelle Martin, Head of Business Development, Episodic, and report to Fiona Walkinshaw, Framestore’s Global Managing Director, Film. As they expand Framestore’s episodic offerings, Whitlam and Martin will work closely with the company’s studios in London, Montreal, the U.S. and India, giving clients access to Framestore’s global talent pool as well as a wide range of national and regional tax incentives. 

Framestore also announced two key hires to its episodic division. VFX Supervisor Sean Mathiesen joins from Double Negative, where he oversaw the entire 4,000-shot production of the critically-acclaimed Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Andy Scrase returns to Framestore as VFX Supervisor after a stint of on-set supervision for Britannia. As well as working on shows such as His Dark Materials and The Crown for Framestore, Scrase previously worked at One Of Us and Double Negative on shows including Aladdin, A Private War, Pacific Rim: Uprising and Mission: Impossible - Fallout. He’s currently working as On-set Supervisor for Netflix’s 1899; Framestore is providing previs, virtual production, and VFX production on the show.

Walkinshaw said, “You hear a lot about how the demand for content is changing and how the lines between film and episodic are blurring, but for us there are two key constants: great storytelling and the need for compelling, note-perfect VFX to support it. Shows like His Dark Materials are reshaping the industry in terms of scope and scale, but for us the drivers and demands remain the same - we want our work to help immerse audiences in whichever stories our clients are bringing to life.” 

“James is the perfect person to drive this change forward,” she added. “He has extensive experience steering ambitious, distinctive cross-site projects for Framestore including two BAFTA-winning seasons of the His Dark Materials, Paddington 2 and Oscar-nominated work on Christopher Robin and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. We’re currently teeing up a raft of exciting, high-end episodic titles for the world’s biggest studios, and we couldn’t be happier that he’s on board to lead the way.”

Whitlaw said, “From fantasy and sci-fi to historical drama it’s no secret that we’re seeing real appetite and ambition for long-form entertainment. Framestore’s mix of craft, creativity and technical skill put us in the perfect place to deliver this work, but what really gives us the edge is our deep understanding of the storytelling process. Experiences like working side by side with award-winning showrunners or being intrinsic members of the creative team on shows like His Dark Materials mean we’re able to work in absolute lockstep with the best directors, DPs, production designers and editors out there, advising on creative approach from concept to final pixel and, ultimately, ensuring they get the absolute most from their budget when bringing their stories to life.”

The move follows the launch of Framestore Pre-production Services (FPS), a division specializing in previs, techvis, postvis, and virtual production.

Source: Framestore

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.