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August 04
2020

Harnessing Passion for the Craft: Greg Anderson

Insights from Greg Anderson’s Ask Me Anything: VFX Pros Tell All webcast held in December 2019.

Acclaimed Visual Effects Supervisor Greg Anderson has been working in film, commercials and episodic TV for two decades. Greg has brought his VFX artistry and expertise to blockbusters, including X2: X-Men United, The Matrix Revolutions, Spider-Man and The Day After Tomorrow, and the critically lauded Netflix series When They See Us. The Star Wars lover, self-described ‘comic book head’ and MIT alumna with a background in design and computation, runs the New York operation of award-winning visual effects studio FuseFX.

VFX is often described as magic and it’s a misnomer. The so-called people behind the scenes are highly educated , immensely talented artists and technicians. It takes a high level of skill and acumen for technology to bring believable imagery to the screen. Visual effects are a challenging and time­ intensive undertaking , but it’s a privilege , and we do it for the love of the craft. And that passion absolutely translates into what ends up on the screen.

In my experience, I stumbled upon VFX. I’m one of very few African American senior visual effects supervisors and had no idea this field was even an option. It starts with knowing in high school that these kinds of career options are available to you. I spend a lot of time talking with high school and grade school students about what I do and how I got here because young people need to see people who look like them and come from the same background. If I can inspire the next generation who didn’t think they could pursue this line of work, I have a responsibility to do that.

Greg Anderson, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor and Head of Studio, New York, FuseFX

“It’s important for young people to see people that look like them and come from the same background.”

Working on WHEN THEY SEE US with Ava DuVernay was personal. Growing up in Ferguson, (Missouri) I vividly remember the Central Park Five events that took place in 1989…I felt it could have been me. I was compelled to work on this project because of my race, my gender and because it is a story that needed to be told . I love working on stories about superheroes and imaginary characters, but this was an opportunity to participate in bringing new awareness to these events and these people. I brought my passion and my VFX skills to create that era-specific environment in New York because I wanted to draw people into that time and space and feel the story.

In my role as head of studio, I ultimately want to hire the best person for the job, but I also see things through the lens of an African American man…so I created an environment that is diverse and open to new voices. Everyone brings their own personal stories to a project , and I believe that cultivating different perspectives allows us to learn from each other culturally and artistically – and benefits the art that we create together. I’m still learning something new every day about visual effects and its role in storytelling, and I love that constant evolution and collaboration.

Watch the whole discussion with Greg Anderson below:

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