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June 24
2018

ISSUE

Summer 2018

VES Montreal: Dynamic Canadian Section Riding the VFX Wave

By NAOMI GOLDMAN

Montreal Section Board, from left to right: Jason Quintana, Chris Kazmier, Emma McGuinness, Peter Nofz, Chloe Grysole, David Bitton, Patrick Parenteau, Jean-Paul Rovela, Jerry Tung. Not pictured are Thai Son Doan and Thomas Tannenberger.

Montreal Section Chair Chloe Grysole and Section Co-chair David Bitton at the Fall Cocktail Party at effectsMTL.

Now two decades strong, the Visual Effects Society owes much of its growth and diversification to its global network of Sections that galvanize their regional VFX communities while advancing the reach and reputation of the Society and industry worldwide.

Founded in 2012, the Montreal Section – one of three Canadian Sections, along with Toronto and Vancouver – is in an exciting period of expansion, mirroring the recent explosive growth of its local visual effects and feature animation industry.

“Five years ago, the Montreal visual effects community was a boutique environment,” says Chloe Grysole, VES Montreal Section Chair. “In that short time frame, the local industry has grown enormously to upwards of 3,000 people working in VFX and feature animation, and projections anticipate another 65% growth by 2020. The industry is booming and the buzz is palpable.”

Montreal houses local offices of major multi-national visual effects facilities headquartered in the U.K., including Cinesite, Double Negative, Framestore and MPC, and also has a strong roster of local companies, including Folks VFX, Mels, Raynault VFX and Rodeo FX in addition to American companies like Atomic Fiction and Reel FX.

“We have always fostered a strong tradition of local artistry, but because the industry wasn’t that large, many practitioners pursued their careers elsewhere in the world,” says Grysole. “With our massive growth spurt, it feels like the industry has finally tapped into the creative kernel that has long existed here. Given the caliber of local VFX talent and the added draw of tax incentives, Montreal is benefiting from Vancouver’s success, which has spread across the country.”

This French/English bilingual Section currently boasts approximately 110 members, most doing visual effects work in the film industry on VFX blockbusters or feature animation. An estimated 40% of local VFX practitioners have relocated in Montreal from France or elsewhere in Canada, and also from all over Europe and the U.S., making for an eclectic and rich multicultural community.

The dynamic Section management team, co-led by Grysole and Section Co-chair David Bitton, is focused on membership growth and building a programmatic calendar of educational events around the craft. It currently hosts popular monthly film screenings for its members, due in large part to its partnership with Technicolor.

The Section also hosts two major annual events that serve as opportunities to recruit prospective members and raise the profile of the VES. The Fall Cocktail has become one the Section’s signature events where members, guests, artists and industry influencers convene and socialize. Last year, the Section teamed up with EffectsMTL – the flourishing east coast VFX and feature animation conference – to tap into the diverse audience of attendees for its Fall Cocktail.

Montreal Section members enjoy the Fall Cocktail Party at effectsMTL.

The Montreal holiday Mega Party is another highly anticipated annual event and convenes VFX practitioners from across the region. Thanks to generous support from Rodeo FX, Double Negative and Cinesite, among others, last year’s party drew upwards of 600 people.

“Because we have so many new people coming into the city, we have used our festive holiday gathering to build a sense of community. We are very proud to offer this meet-and-greet for the community at large and welcome anyone working in the industry to join us,” says Grysole.

Montreal Section members and industry guests celebrating at the Annual Holiday Mega Party.

The Section is also looking to replicate successful events put on by other Sections, such as the Regional VES Awards Celebration hosted by the New York section for the past four years. The team is gleaning best practices from some of the more mature Sections, including its sister Canadian Sections, and is excitedly exploring opportunities to highlight Montreal’s artists and innovators.

Grysole comments on Montreal’s watershed moment: “Look at this year with Framestore winning a BAFTA and an Academy Award for its visual effects work on Blade Runner 2049. All of the work was done in Framestore’s Montreal office, shining another light on the talent we have here. Production is booming and we have acclaimed directors from Quebec, including Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée, in hot demand. It’s an exciting time. There is a synergy and momentum going on, and we want to be able to reward and recognize our homegrown talent.”

The Montreal Section is proud to operate in the heart of the city. Beyond the film and gaming industry, Montreal is host to world-renowned music and cultural festivals, has the second largest number of restaurants per capita after New York City, and is noted as one of the most affordable big cities in North America.

Grysole adds, “Culturally speaking, we’re halfway between Europe and North America. The quality of life in our unique creative hub is high, making it a great place to work and play. And our Section has the dedication, the resources and the drive to build a vibrant visual effects community that embraces this amazing culture – and contributes greatly to the growing universe of filmed entertainment coming out of Montreal. The future is bright.”


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