The Icelandic outpost of post-production/visual effects company Framestore has now doubled in size since its inception three years ago.
Framestore was set up three years ago as an outpost of the London-based company (which also has another satellite office in New York).
It started with about 12 employees and now has about 25. One key project for the Iceland office has been doing all the VFX for Baltasar Kormakur’s US-set thriller Contraband, which is with Working Title/Universal.
“We worked on about 213 shots, we had a big team on that. We are genearlly a small outfit taking sequences from London or New York, but with Contraband [pictured] we did the complete work on the film here, that’s our first for a major studio and that’s a big step for us,” said Framestore Creative Director Dadi Einarsson [also pictured].
The company is now working on Kormakur’s locally shot drama The Deep (see story here.)
Einarsson spearheaded the launch of the Iceland office; he started working at Framestore UK in 1998. He also worked at The Mill in New York before returning to Framestore in 2006, when he supervised the animation and VFX teams on The Golden Compass.
The Iceland office of Framestore opened just about three months before the economy there crashed, but business is now healthy and growing, he said.
The outfit has worked on about 10 films so far: Salt, Australia, Heartless, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Contraband, Legends of Vahalla: Thor, Where The Wild Things Are, Sherlock Holmes and The Good Heart.
The company also does work with influential local games developer CCP.
The staff is that’s a mix of locally trained artists and those from international backgrounds who come to work in Iceland. The Icelandic office also often sends its team members to work on a job in Framestore’s offices in London and New York.
“It’s great to have offices in three different but interconnected places,” Einarsson says of the logistics. “It works quite well with a triangle of locations.” The branches have the capacity to transfer large files speedily when they need to.
Another big project for the company is local TV show Heimsendir (World’s End), a dark comedy TV series set in a mental institution. Framestore’s contribution includes a CG elephant that one of the patients sees. (Ragnar Ragnar Bragason, who has directed interationally acclaimed film such as Parents and Children, is directing the series.)
Having VFX capability now available locally could also inspire new kinds of projects in Iceland, Einarsson notes. “A lot of the stories here have been very conventional, they havne’t had that VFX services to work on films. Now we can open some doors for them and unshake some creative energy.” Framestore in Iceland can work on stereoscopic 3D, as they are on Legends of Valhalla-Thor.
The country offers a healthy 20% rebate on local spend (which includes post) and with the Icelandic currency down, it’s an attractive time for foreign productions. “I would hope it’s going to get bigger next year, it could get very busy,” adds Einarsson.
Staff could be added in the future, but Einarsson isn’t overly concerned with headcount. “Size isn’t the goal, it’s doing good work and being profitable.”