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June 06
2024

ISSUE

Summer 2024

VES France Revisited: Thriving VFX Hub in the City of Lights

By NAOMI GOLDMAN

VES France hosts a festive Section BBQ and recruitment party while floating along the Seine River.

VES France hosts a festive Section BBQ and recruitment party while floating along the Seine River.

VES France hosts a festive Section BBQ and recruitment party while floating along the Seine River.

VES France hostsa festive Section BBQ and recruitment party while floating along the Seine River.

VES France holds its 2024 VES Awards nominations event.

The Visual Effects Society’s worldwide presence gets stronger every year – and so much of that is because of our regional VFX communities and their work to advance the Society and bring people together. Since it was established as the 13th Section in 2018, VES France has grown into a vibrant regional community, now boasting more than 200 members.

“The arts are an integral part of the French culture, cinema in particular, and I’m proud that the region is also becoming a hub for visual effects,” said Sophie Leclerc, Co-Chair of the VES France Section and Executive Producer at Rodeo FX Paris. “We are experiencing this growth because of the presence of a very talented pool of VFX artists in France and across Europe and many extremely good VFX and animation schools building new artists, and also due to enticing tax rebates for foreign productions either filmed in France or VFX-only projects.”

“Amid the recent [actors and writers] strikes, a lot of French talent working abroad decided to come home to France,” said Sebastián Eyherabide, Co-Chair of the VES France Section and VFX Executive Producer at Mathematic Studio. “Because we have a strong local industry, whether advertising or fictional cinema, we are not feeling the slowdown as much as some other places.”

The hub of visual effects work in Paris continues to develop, thanks to schools in both the north and south of France. Several cities are establishing branches of VFX and animation companies, including Montpellier and Valence. “The cost of life is cheaper outside of Paris, and because the remote or hybrid work model that was integrated into our lives during COVID is sticking, that revolution is allowing our industry to expand across the region,” said Eyherabide.

In concert with the growth of the local VFX industry, interest in the VES as a professional organization dedicated to practitioners has also increased. The Section’s membership includes 2D and 3D artists, designers and producers, many of whom have built strong ties working for different companies across France. While the Section had a majority of members working in advertising at its inception, there has been a surge of people from film, episodic and animation in the last 3-4 years. Both Co-Chairs stated that it is a priority goal to recruit more women and diversify their membership, with Leclerc noting, “we hope to reach gender parity in the next few years.”

VES France hosts a robust roster of film screenings and Q&As for members and guests, thanks to the TSF Group, which holds the events in their projection room in the La Plaine Saint-Denis business district. The Section hosts regular pub nights and an annual BBQ to bring together existing and prospective members. This past Fall, they combined the BBQ and recruiting drive at a festive event on a glowing, chartered boat on the Seine River – which is still getting rave reviews. The Section held a celebratory gathering for the first World VFX Day in December, when it presented awards to Head of Studio Paris at Rodeo FX/VFX Supervisor Franck Lambertz, CEO and Founder of Happy Flamingos Studio/VFX Supervisor Josselin Mahot and Vice President France VFX/VFX Supervisor-Producer Roxane Fechner. The group also hosted a recent outing to view a special exhibition of filmmaker James Cameron’s work at La Cinémathèque Française.

“It’s nice to have a community where tech and artistry meet. To be around people with the same passions and interest in a professional field that is always changing and expanding – it’s fantastic to be able to grow together.”

—Sophie Leclerc, Co-Chair, VES France

Every year, VES France is a proud sponsor of the Paris Images Digital Summit (PIDS), an event created by the Centre des arts d’Enghien-les-Bains and dedicated to visual effects, where the creative, technical and economic issues of the constantly changing sector intersect.

“Each year before the PIDS masterclass – which was last taught by award-winning VFX Supervisor Guillaume Rocheron – we have the opportunity to talk about the VES to this large group of VFX professionals and students,” said Eyherabide. “This is always a great opportunity for us to raise awareness about the VES and continue to enrich our community. We want to sponsor more events to heighten our profile with the future goal of ‘when you think about VFX in France, you think about the VES.’”

VES France has a highly engaged membership and group of leaders who contribute to many programs and events. The Section has shot three video interviews for the VES Luminaries Series with VFX Supervisors Christian Guillon, Rodolphe Chabrier and Eve Ramboz. Section Board of Managers member Alain Boutillier worked on a resource project outlining the definitions of VFX jobs (in French and English), as a tool to help increase understanding and respect for the craft and build bridges with directors, cinematographers and other allied professionals. The Section also hosted an in-person VES Awards nominations event, which further cemented camaraderie among the members.

“I’m really attached to the VES Awards,” said Eyherabide. “It is a privileged and intimate moment to see the breakdowns of the work and understand that even big companies and experienced artists have those challenges to find solutions and innovate in every domain.”

Said Leclerc, “It’s nice to have a community where tech and artistry meet. To be around people with the same passions and interest in a professional field that is always changing and expanding – it’s fantastic to be able to grow together.”

“I still consider us a young Section, and I’m happy that we are getting recognized by our peers for all that we are doing to enhance our community” Eyherabide added. “Across COVID, strikes and the AI revolution, the VES fills a space and connects people to talk and share support and ideas so that no one feels isolated. It is a beautiful dynamic that I’m proud to be a part of.”

VES Celebrates the first annual World VFX Day and presents awards to industry leaders Franck Lambertz, Josselin Mahot and Roxane Fechner.

VES Celebrates the first annual World VFX Day and presents awards to industry leaders Franck Lambertz, Josselin Mahot and Roxane Fechner.

VES France leaders Quentin Martin and Sophie Leclerc present to VFX professionals and students at the Paris Images Digital Summit.

VES France leaders Quentin Martin and Sophie Leclerc present to VFX professionals and students at the Paris Images Digital Summit.



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