Oscar-winning independent U.K. visual effects house secures investment from the Business Growth Fund to grow the company, with increased focus in the feature film market.
BGF (Business Growth Fund) has invested an initial £2m in Oscar-winning Milk Visual Effects, an independent visual effects company that creates innovative and complex visual effects for television and feature films. Milk will use the funding to expand its studios, invest in new technical equipment and R&D and hire the best industry talent, significantly increasing its capacity to work with the world’s leading feature film, high-end television and digital content producers, such as Warner Bros., the BBC and Netflix.
Milk was founded by five VFX supervisors and producers in 2013, including current CEO Will Cohen, and now employs 150 staff across its sites in London and Cardiff. The studio has won multiple awards for its creative work, including three consecutive BAFTA Television Craft awards for Doctor Who (2014, 2015) and critically acclaimed BBC drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2016). In 2016, Milk won an Emmy for work on the BBC drama Sherlock, and co-founder Sara Bennett won an Oscar for her work on the film Ex-Machina in the Best VFX Category.
Another recent highlight for Milk is its work on the Warner Bros. film Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016), for which it created a number of visual effects sequences. Milk’s credits also include Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise and Free Fire, The Martian (20th Century Fox), The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate/Summit), Poltergeist (Fox/MGM), Everest (Universal) and Brett Ratner’s Hercules (Paramount/MGM).
The investment will accelerate Milk's ambitious growth plan and allow the continual development of its innovative work streams for the production of visual effects and formats. Milk is currently in production on projects including Alex Garland’s forthcoming feature Annihilation (DNA/Paramount), Kingsman 2 (Lionsgate) and Doctor Who series 10 for television. The business is well placed to take advantage of the recent increase in demand for high quality creative content being driven by companies such as Amazon and Netflix.
In addition to the funding, BGF also introduced Will Cohen and his management team to former Pinewood Group CEO Ivan Dunleavy, who will join Milk VFX as the non-executive chairman. With 17 years’ experience managing the growth of iconic filmmaking company Pinewood as CEO, Dunleavy’s experience is a strong match for Milk’s ambitions.
BGF is the U.K.’s most active investor in growing businesses in the U.K. and Ireland. An established, independent company, BGF has £2.5bn to make long-term equity investments in early-stage, established and listed companies.
Cohen explained: “Our new partnership with BGF and the appointment of Ivan Dunleavy as chairman will help us to deliver the most challenging and creative visual effects work for the global feature film, high end television and emerging digital content markets. We look forward to building on our success over the last four years -- which is testament to the dedication and expertise of our team at Milk. It’s a wonderful way to begin our fifth year in business.”
Ivan Dunleavy said: "The team at Milk, led by Will Cohen, has done a fantastic job at building the business and establishing its credentials in the globally competitive VFX marketplace. I look forward to working with them and BGF in realizing the next stage of our exciting plan to develop the Milk brand even further, at a time when audiences on all channels and platforms expect quality creative content."
Gavin Petken, regional director at BGF, added: “We are delighted to back Milk in their quest to create an independent visual effects business of scale. Will and the team have an outstanding reputation for delivering innovative, ground breaking visual effects and have cultivated valuable and strategic commercial relationships. They have scaled the business well, and we are excited to see our investment help accelerate their growth even further.”
Chris Hodges, George Tsangarides and Thomas McDonnell led the investment for BGF.