I am a visual effects designer for film and television. Although filmmaking is collaborative by nature, most of the work I do alone or in really small teams.
How can I as an individualist maker design and organize collaboration that respects individual makership (authorship, style, way of working) within a shared design vision?
This question is a two-headed monster in that it looks for the bridge between the hyper-individual (the fingerprint), and the group.
My research thus follows these two trails, and in my various practical efforts I attempt to bring those together.
In the last 10 years the projects I have worked on have gradually grown in complexity and scale. Over time I have built a network of freelancers that I can delegate work to. But the collaboration has predominantly been very linear: I brief the teammembers on what I need, and after some back and forth I receive the end result. There are a couple of reasons why I want to move away from this hierarchical pattern: first is that this way of approaching team members is not making optimal use of the specific talents and skills of the teammembers. I’m merely asking them to do what I would have done myself if I had the time. A second reason is that this hierarchical model does not scale well: since all communication flows through me, when the team grows I will spend all my time being the conduit between the director and the teammember. This is a scary thought when I really want to be working hands-on.
Parallel to this challenge of facilitating creative processes in teams is the observation that the visual effects industry has become dominated by corporate culture, where vfx studios become interchangeable assets to investment companies. It has become the norm that multiple, if not dozens, of visual effects companies work on one single film so the work has to be indistinguishable from one another. This leads to a market where the lowest bidder gets the job. Instead I want to explore how individual style, fingerprint can play a role in digital visual effects.
As I am in preparation for a new sciencefiction feature film I am using this context to do various experiments with a small team of collaborators. My participants are the teammembers that will work with me on this film. But also the director, cinematographer, editor and other crew that will come onboard during the project. Throughout the project I hope to develop some tools that suit my specific needs.
To provide theoretical context for these experiments, and to sharpen my thinking on the subject I am reading books and essays on the subject of craft, authorship, but also reading up on design thinking and looking into proven team management models such as Agile/Scrum.