“In film, there’s an awful lot of project management—it’s just called production. Although it’s
definitely project management, the job I do, helping
create the visual effects, is normally called visual-effects producer.
When I left university, I came to London and
worked as a runner, which is basically someone who
makes the tea, fetches things and, if they’re lucky,
The people working on the visual-effects component of a big visual-
effects film can be as much as 50 percent of the entire budget of a film.
It’s the largest single expense after the actors and directors. On a big
visual-effects film, the visual-effects crew approaches two-thirds of the
credit list, so it’s also the most labor-intensive part of the filmmaking
process. For instance, I worked on Iron Man 3, and the total number
of visual-effects contributors was nearly 600 people on a credit list of
800. The work is very detailed and very specialized, and in the scheme
of making a film it takes a long time. Film tends to get shot in 12 to 24
weeks, but visual effects can often take 40 or 50 weeks.
All of that—the budget, the people, the schedule—has to be managed.
Typically, a single visual-effects shot goes through between five and
15 pairs of hands as it travels from one end of the visual-effects pipeline
to the other. The project managers, or producers, manage the passing of
the work from one pair of hands to the next.
The single-most important part of a film producer’s job is managing
the creative component while trying to make a commercially successful product. The hardest thing is balancing the desire to do really great
work with the need to do it on an incredibly tight margin, because the
resources available to us are not endless, although the requests for creative often are.
Although visual-effects companies generally don’t have producers
who come from an academic project management background, as an
industry I think we could only benefit from hiring more people with
formal project management training.”