BY HALEIGH FOUTCH | COLLIDER | DECEMBER, 2013 | Original Article
Out on Blu-ray December 17th is Elysium, Neill Blomkamp’s sophomore film about class disparity in a bleak futuristic vision of Earth. While the film boasts an impressive cast including Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Diego Luna, William Fitchner and Alice Braga it’s the tremendous special effects that ended up stealing the show. Elysium was recently named by The Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences alongside films like Pacific Rim and Gravity as one of the ten pictures set to vie for the Best Visual Effects Oscar.
At the recent Autodesk CAVE conference in Las Vegas I had the opportunity to attend a class about Elysium’s impressive effects work and interview the film’s Overall Effects Supervisor Peter Muyzers. As someone who’s always been impressed and intrigued by effects artists it was an exciting opportunity to get an inside look at the intricate process of their work. During the interview he talked about what made Elysium significantly more challenging than District 9, collaborating with Blomkamp, his favorite shot of the film, creating convincing effects on a budget, Blomkamp’s next picture Chappie, and more…
Question: You said in your presentation that Image Engine was established in 1995, were you there at the beginning? What point did you come in?
PETER MUYZERS: No, I joined the company in 2006 when I was brought on board to help build the feature film division. At that point the company was primarily working on television series like Stargate and so on. They had the desire to break into film, but they didn’t know exactly how to do that. My career before was at the moving picture company in the UK, in London, so when I came to Canada I helped kind of build it up.
Is that how you met Neill Blomkamp?
MUYZERS: Yes, shortly after we built this division for feature films we had this idea that we wanted to work on some great films, but we didn’t know what films they were going to be. I was kind of like “build it and they will come” kind of idea where we going to build the studio, we had no clients at the time, and we were hoping that when we could show to potential clients what we were capable of that they would say, “Oh yeah, this is a great studio. Let’s do the work with you guys.” So it was just fortunate that Neill contacted us and said, “Hey I’ve got this project that has multiple shots with Aliens in them and mother ships, is that something you guys can do?” And we’re like “Yeah! We’re ready for that!” So that was like we built it and Neill came. It was perfect timing how he came to image Engine. So we completed that show and were talking already about Elysium.
Can you talk a little bit about working with Neill and what his style is like as a director? What’s he like to collaborate with?
MUYZERS: Neill is a visionary. He really knows what he wants. He knows how to communicate it to everyone on the team; the visual effects, the costume designers, the art department people, the special effects people. He savors that relationship that you create with all these people and then he really wants to stick with that crew all the way through the show and on his next film. he would like to work with the same people on the next project. Maybe some of the people he doesn’t like to work with, they don’t get to work with him again, but for the most part he somehow managed to get this great group of people together from all over the world and trying to recreate that is often very challenging. Because everyone has other projects they’re working on and so on, but Neill is very much the kind of director that says, “I worked with you before, I loved working with you, and I want to work with you again.” Because what happens is you develop that short hand. You can just nod, or gesture or do something and then I can just read him from that and say, “oh, he’s frustrated about something. What’s going on here?” That shorthand is very important. A lot of that just depends on just developing a good relationship with the director. For some reason he seems to get along with myself and the entire team at Image Engine.
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