The SyFy Channel has a long history producing VFX heavy Shark Week films, and 2018 was no exception. One of those films released was the SyFy original Megalodon (not to be confused with The Meg (2018))
We had the pleasure to talk with Matt Dean, a VFX artist who knows a thing or two about the industry, and how you can succeed yourself! Let’s dive in.
Hey Matt, can you tell us a little about who you are and the work you do?
I am a producer and filmmaker with 25 years of experience in film, television and education. I own Matt Dean Films Inc – a Production and Distribution Company that works on everything from documentary series like “Creators of Tomorrow” for Redbull TV, to feature films like “Two Jacks” with Sienna Miller and Danny Huston and made for TV movies for Syfy Channel like “Megalodon” with Michael Madsen.
What software do you use most often?
We use a wide range of software, some in house and others with our freelancers who are based around the world. Maya, Cinema 4D, Lightwave, After Effects, Houdini, Premiere, Nuke, DaVinci, and we are just starting to get into Fusion.
“Megalodon” recently premiered on the SyFy Channel, was that the first SyFy original you worked on?
Megalodon was our first project working with “The Asylum” for Syfy Channel. The Asylum then asked us to help with some of the remaining Effects on “6-headed Shark” which also aired that week. Prior to that, we’ve worked on shows for the History Channel, Discovery Channel and a number of feature films.
Which ProductionCrate effects did you use in “Megalodon” ?
You’ve been in the industry for a long time, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is in the quality of VFX required for a decreasing budget. We just don’t have time or budget to build everything from scratch anymore which is where it helps to have sites like footageCrate.com
A lot of ProductionCrate members are looking to get started in filmmaking and VFX, any suggestions on where to begin?
As to getting into filmmaking, That’s a REALLY big question. Do you want to be a professional producer, director DP, actor, VFX artist? Each has a very different path in filmmaking. For people wanting to make their own films – First, they should get the book “Success in Film” by world-renowned producer Julia Verdin and myself. (yes, it’s a shameful plug but it really is a good book) – Success in Film is a guidebook for figuring out WHY you want to make a film before you learn the HOW you make a film. EVERYBODY wants to make a movie and frankly, anyone can with just a cellphone. Achieving success in filmmaking is however much, much harder. In the book, we laid out the basics that anyone can follow on any scale of film, large budget or small, while keeping a balanced approach to what they expect to get out of the film.
you have to have a long-term plan if you’re going to make it in the film industry.
It can take several years to build up the connections and a team of people to create success for yourself. Whatever career you want to take on (Matte Painter, Make-up artist, set construction, prop master, etc…) it can take years of experience to get to a place where you’re making a living from the industry. There are thousands of people every year who try to make it in the film industry only to give up and return home a short time later. Find one area to focus on, read everything you can on it, and work for free if you have to until you can build up your resume and have a great demo reel.
Getting into professional VFX work is not very difficult if you are willing to put in the hours it takes to learn the techniques.
Every piece of VFX software that is used by the pros is accessible to the masses along with hundreds of hours of tutorials. Your software and career choices are numerous so it’s good to focus on a single technique and software that will get you hired rather than just fooling around with the free ones. If you want to try 3D modelling and design, start with software like Maya or Cinema 4D. Want to try water, hair and cloth FX? – Houdini is the gold standard. For compositing, you can start with software like Fusion (which is Free) and After Effects ($20+ per month), but the main one used by the big studios is Nuke which is a lot more expensive at $5-10k. (There are however 30-day free trial versions of Nuke) Compositors, rotoscope artists and 3D modelers are in high demand with all of the big budget VFX films being made by the studios. There’s no excuse for not learning one of these arts with so much available at your fingertips.
Thanks for sharing the demo video, do you have any other projects in the pipeline you could tell us about?
We just added a distribution branch to the company so we are focusing on finding new films to add to our line up as well as prepare for The American Film Market (AFM) this November. We just released two Documentaries “Leaving My Father’s Faith” and “The Old Man and the Sea: Return to Cuba”. We are also developing a TV series based on our award-winning short film “Dicky Sledgehammer” which we hope to have in production in the first quarter of next year.
People can keep up with what we are doing on our main website – mattdeanfilms.com