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Production to Post: “We’re Untraditional and We’re Not Tied by Geography”

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Motherland head of post-production Anthony McCaffery on consistency and flexibility in creative, and why the future of VFX is closely tied to production

Production to Post: “We’re Untraditional and We’re Not Tied by Geography”

After two decades of experience at some of the most renowned post houses including The Mill, RayGun, Untold Studios and Brown Bag, Anthony McCaffery found himself drawn to Motherland in October 2021, following the impactful work that caught his eye. 

As head of post-production, Anthony manages and drives the entire post-production arm at Motherland, evolving as technology continues to advance and investing in the talent of the future. In October 2022, the post team won four bronze Sharks for editing - three for RTE at 60 and another for sound support on FBD.

Following LBB’s discussion with head of production, Margaret Levingstone, in this interview, Anthony reveals how Motherland’s model enables a highly streamlined production to post offering, and how the business has embraced technology to provide the ultimate flexible workflow.

LBB> You’ve been at Motherland for over a year now, what was it that initially drew you to the company and how has your role grown since you joined?


Anthony> I was drawn to Motherland by the work they were producing, it stood out in terms of the range and originality. The approach was so different and I wanted to find out more. I had never worked at a production company, so it was a huge opportunity to learn about that side and be part of the in-house post team.

Many parts of my role have changed over that time, remote work for editors and artists is still changing, as is the blend of in-person and remote client reviews. As a team we’re constantly adapting to make sure the client has the best experience and we aim to make that experience as seamless as possible.
 

LBB> You believe that the future of VFX is closely tied to production - why do you think this is and how does the post-production team at Motherland collaborate with the production team?


Anthony> Production is traditionally broken into distinct stages, from pitch to delivery, where often people complete their role and move on. We don’t look at it that way. There’s a consistent creative thread the whole way through each project. 

One benefit of in-house post is that we’re involved right from the pitch phase. The editors and VFX artists are part of that process and contribute, and this means we can react to changes quickly. We’re able to support the director’s vision from the outset. Sometimes that’s as a safety net in case things are difficult on a shoot. More often it’s about giving the director options to enhance what they have shot.


LBB> You also place great importance on flexibility - tell us about Motherland’s post-production offering.


Anthony> The projects we’ve worked on over the last 12 months have varied so much and we’re constantly looking at how we are able to be more flexible in future. We’ve all learnt a lot about working remotely over the last few years and at Motherland we’ve embraced that. We’ve moved away from shipping drives to editors and built a pipeline that allows editors and artists to remotely access our centralised storage and work as if it is local to them. 

We anticipate that by the end of the year we’ll have around 10-12 editors and graphics/VFX artists working on projects in-house and remotely. We’re not tied by geography so we’re able to bring on board specialist talent when needed. This also means the in-house team has flexibility to work from home. That flexibility is an important part of our culture, and the technology we use enables that. We also work with a number of studios to offer remote grading. Having our own suites gives our directors and clients the option to attend virtual sessions together in our building as if they’re in the room with the colourist. 

 

LBB> What are some of the top projects you’ve been working on and what was your experience like on these?


Anthony> One of my favourite projects this year was for Sky’s sponsorship of the Ireland Women's National Team. Creatively it was a challenge in terms of what went into the edit. It was broadcast archive and stock footage, combined with shooting the players and other talent across four days. At one point, we had agency and client in attendance, reviewing different edits in adjoining suites whilst others reviewed in the UK via Zoom. We were grading with Alex Gregory at No. 8 in London, again reviewing in-house and remotely. We handled all of the edit, online and VFX at Motherland, and provided all of the TV and social deliverables through the same team.


Our short film ‘Call Me Mommy’ directed by Tara O’Callaghan won Best Short Documentary at the Galway Film Fleadh this year. It’s a powerful film and it was a huge achievement for the team. I’m not sure anyone else could have produced a film like that, giving the project the resources it needed to take it to that level.

And our Red Breast films featuring Chris O’Dowd were a favourite of mine. They were shot in my first week and I was on set to help with VFX supervision. These were edited and finished in-house. We partnered with an external studio who provided the beautiful bird animation to match-up with what we had shot. It was a great reflection of what’s possible at Motherland, bringing great people together to produce something really entertaining.  


LBB> You have a disruptive vision for the future or production. How do you hope to evolve the department over the next few years?


Anthony> Motherland is very much about looking at things differently and moving away from how work has traditionally been produced. For me, the technology side of post will continue to develop and change: remote workflows, automation of tasks and better collaboration will change how we work.That’s also about getting out of the way of the talent and allowing them to do their best work. 

I think the biggest disruption will come from the talent we have, in particular the next generation. We see that investment in the future as a key part of what has made Motherland so successful. We’re going to keep changing by continuing to do that.

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Motherland, Fri, 21 Oct 2022 10:27:00 GMT