Innovation in the Faroese Film industry: The team of Tectonic VFX, their scope of work and plans ahead.Shehan Andrew Bandara, Jóhannus E. Johansen and Hans Kristian Eyðunsson Hansen explain how important Visual Effects are for films, and how Tectonic VFX can support intl. Film productions.
Tectonic VFX is the first and only production company for Visual Effects in the Faroe Islands — adding to the previous interview with Tina Wagner from the Filmhusid. Andrew, one of the co-founders, is a born Sri Lankan, got married in the Faroe Islands, studied at Vinnuháskulin (in Faroese and with books in Danish language!) and got friends with Jóhannus, who returned from his Vancouver film school in Canada and following work in Canada and Dubai. Jóhannus is an expert on visual effects, which is a job for artists that involves creativity and a free mind.
It is challenging to cover both, the business side and the creative aspects. Work processes in the VFX (Visual effects) business can be overwhelming. This is what Andrew is good at — so both decided to start their production company, VFX Tectonic with Jóhannus to look after the creative effects and Andrew to run the business and process planning with the clients, and workflow management of artists.
What exactly do you do at Tectonic VFX?
VFX has a super broad spectrum — it is like a cake that comes in different forms, tastes, colours. As many — not always recognizable — parts of a film production need visual effects, it is important that producers work closely together with the VFX team. That might not be obvious to all producers, nor to the decision makers in funding policy who support international co-operations with film productions.
We are locals with an extra wide lens through an immigrant — Andrew. We offer pre-visualizations, on-set supervision and all necessary work with high-end software for 3D modeling, rigging, animation and compositing and all else required to create the visual effects. Visual Effects (commonly shortened to VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shoot.
As there is a foreground and a background in combining film images, VFX is operating in both the background and foreground, and they are an essential part of the production. Production is often defined including actors and directors, but forgets that visual effects are of equal importance for the production process. Tectonic is a supervising visual effects company. If brought in from the beginning, we help save much time and money in foreseeing needed effects that can be considered during the production as practical effects and don’t need to be created as post-production extras, which costs much time and even more money as this time needs to be paid for.
As the technology in VFX has much advanced, the new era of VFX (such as Virtual Productions) is n o t post-production only.
We work with both green and blue screens and can process (set-extensions) any photos, videos etc. And yes, LED screens are the latest in presenting (in virtual productions), however, their main advantage is that the director, actor/s or presenter/s in the foreground can see real time what is up on the background. So we can produce any effects on any background.
Often the clients and producers don’t exactly know or can not foresee where they might need visual effects in the process, such as enhanced practical effects (extent sets, add explosions, fog, augment skies etc.). If scenarios are getting too dangerous for the actors such as gunfire, explosions and dangerous stunts, they can be simulated in VFX.
A simple example: in post-production it is discovered that a bucket of water, pouring down at some stage, is needed. If that is already considered through supervising the production process, it is a minor detail. If added in post-production, it can take up to 1-2 weeks (depending on the complexity of the shot) to catch the scene properly…. Particularly in lower budget production of Indi films, it is even more important to have the VFX people included in the team and to plan as diligently as possible.
As Andrew puts it:
You have three options from which you can choose but two: fast, cheap, good. Fast and good can’t be cheap. Fast and cheap can’t be good. And good it must be!
Has the film industry in the Faroe Islands enough potential for a visual effects producer to sustain?
Not yet at this stage. We cannot depend on the film industry here alone. We need to collaborate with international productions — that is why we are interested in networking opportunities and collaboration with the community and Filmhusid. As Tina i Dali Wagner says in the last interview — we want to help to create a Faroese DNA for film productions.
It needs to show in international films, that the Faroe Islands have co-produced. If visual effects are not acknowledged as being part of the production, we cannot apply for funds for such collaborations and hence will not be mentioned as a creative nation. Also, we are often not permitted to use the most exciting recent projects that we work with, to market ourselves, due to obligation of confidentiality. That is difficult for us — we know we have awesome and cool content but cannot use it.
Some of our work you can find displayed here: https://www.tectonic.fo/portfolio.
If the film fairy allows you to have a wish free for your dream production — what would that be:
Andrew: I wished our film funding would accept the visual effects as a major part of film-making, and look beyond the traditional division in preproduction, production and post-production, as this does not apply any more. A film needs VFX producers and supervisors to decide for VFX. Animation and creating effects are essential parts.
Jóhannus: I wished we’d have more international productions and all these films show the Made in the Faroe Islands, listing all supporting VFX producers/supervisors (like us) and we have a crew of 20 to manage all these productions.
Hans Kristian: I would wish we are able to create an animated film about the Faroe Islands to show all that we can deliver!
Visual Effects are an important part of the story-telling of a film and are part of the film-making. We believe in co-productions and help out wherever we can. In return, we would need more support and understanding for our work! We believe in the film brand “Made in the Faroe Islands”, the Filmhusid and Tina have made a whole difference to the film industry here. Films need to be planned really well from pre- to post-production — that will improve the quality and reduce the costs.