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New Deal Studios is where the line between illusion and reality disappears. Come along for a peek behind the magician’s curtain at one of Hollywood’s top visual effects houses. In this Creative Inspirations documentary, find out how key scenes from Martin Scorsese’s film Shutter Island were created, as well as segments of The Dark Knight and Night at the Museum. Using a combination of models, miniatures, computer graphics, and digital effects, New Deal Studios was designed from the ground up to be a place where effects professionals could do their best work, and where filmmakers could have their visions realized.
(Music playing) Shannon Blake Gans: One of our main focuses here is on creativity, and that creativity can come from any discipline. The image on the screen is our final product and so we approach visual effects from the filmmaker's perspective, and not just technologist, or the artist, or the model maker, or the carpenter, or whatever. The position you have, your part of one big Rube Goldberg experiment essentially.
Matthew Gratzner: If you actually set up a place where you work, where you treat the people as you'd want to be treated, surprisingly, people enjoy coming to work. And funny enough, that does work, and the thing about the film business that we didn't like was that there is definitely a hierarchy, which has to be, you have to have people that run jobs. You have to have producers. You have to have people who are doing some smaller task. But what you don't need is a caste system, and that's kind of I sort of feel the film industry sometimes goes, where you have people that are - the idea of paying your dues is that you've been treated like garbage.
So, now that you have been treated like garbage for a number of years, now you can do that to somebody else. To me, that's not paying your dues. That's actually a very a dysfunctional relationship. So we kind of decided at the studio that, well, because we don't have a big corporation that's backing us, we don't have a board of directors telling us what to do, we'll just run the company as if we ran the company, and we didn't really have to answer to anybody. So essentially, by treating people fairly and treating them as you would want to be treated, we find that people enjoy coming to work. They enjoy doing a good job, and it's a much more healthy working relationship, and healthy environment to work in.
Ian Hunter: People that are working really long hours and you are expecting them to be creative are actually less creative, less efficient, and less safe after too many hours. They literally are getting too tired, and they can't really do their job as well. For us, it's sort of a selfish reason, where we get less productivity if we work people too long. So we want to give people a breather. We want to give them room to rest, and come back, and be fresh and be creative, and do the best work they can.
We encourage getting interns here. We like to get people that are just coming out of school, who are enthusiastic about doing this kind of work. Shannon: When we interview people, partially, its like "Are you nice?" first and then, "Can you do your job?" And because you have to work as part of a team. This is a collaborative industry. It's kind of like, like attracts like. So, you'll attract people who will fit into the culture of the company. When we interview, I want to hear from people what are their goals and their dreams. Everybody - you know, it's Hollywood - everyone has a dream, and they all, often, want to direct or produce and write.
And so, again, the common courtesy and respect is looking for their interest. This is a way station. People come in, they develop skills, and they move on, and we encourage that, and we give 110% to our crew. And we expect 110%. We have all come a long way, like I came from Florida, 3000 miles. People come from all over the world. We have somebody from East Germany that wrote me a letter saying, on handwritten paper I have it, "Please let me come work for you. "I love the film industry. I want to be a model maker," or digital artists that come from Japan and then work their way here on their own, against the will of their parents.
We have a wide range of amazing artists. And so, they come here to be artists and they want to have fun. If you put them into this survival mode and abuse them, how are they going to open up and give to the project creativity? That's the whole point of what we do. But providing that space to open up allows all the employees and artists to give to our projects, and it just looks that much better.
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