Michael Cawood

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Interview with Iskander Mellakh

2014-09-18
By: michaelcawood
Posted in:

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To celebrate'Devils, Angels & Dating' reaching 2 Million views on YouTube, we wanted to check in on our talented team members to see where they are and what they've been up to since they worked on the film. This is a conversation with our long serving Technical Director, and talented all rounder, Iskander Mellakh.

Tell us about your discovery of 'Devils, Angels & Dating', then what you ended up working on during the project.

I found out about Devils Angels and Dating towards the end of my contract on 'Prince Caspian'. Mike was at MPC the same time I was although we never met until I started to help on Devils.

I contacted Mike through the website atdevilsangelsanddating.com, and slowly, once Mike knew where my strengths lay, he passed more of the technical tasks my way good fun! I ended up being credited as a Technical Director on the project, a title I am proud of.

What were your thoughts, hopes and concerns about the project at the time, and how do you feel about it now?

I really didn't have any hopes or concerns, I just really wanted to continue to work in the film and animation industry. My contract at MPC had ended, I didn't have any new jobs coming in and I really didn't want to forget all I had learnt whilst in London.

Devils gave me the opportunity to continue to learn, network, and made sure I did not give up. The animation and VFX industry moves so quickly that you could easily forget things and get left behind if you dont continue to practice even if you are not employed to do what you love you need to practice. It is also a highly volatile and competitive industry, so if VFX is what you want to to never give up!!

Did Devils change the way you approach your career at all?

Devils had a positive and big impact on my career. It didn't change the way I approached my career, but it opened more doors, for which I am really grateful!

Do you know whether anything you did for Devils lead directly to any other opportunities you've had since?

I am sure my work on Devils is still having an effect on the type of work I am getting now. I have recently completed work on Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and Disney's 'Maleficent' back at MPC, I also still work closely with one of the artists that worked on Devils Antonio Milo.

Antonio has hired me to help on multiple projects and has always proved to be a great creative director and compositor. We have worked on projects for Mizuno and are currently finishing up a project for EasyJet.

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I also had the pleasure of working at Ragdoll productions working on 'The Adventures of Abney and Teal'. Chuck (who also worked on Devils), posted a job vacancy on linkedIn, in which I applied for, and then I got the job good fun!

Whathaveyou been up to professionally since your involvement in Devils?

I am currently freelance and work remotely through my company ICM Studios. I setup ICM Studios in 2008 shortly after my first contract at finished at MPC.

Towards the end of 2013 I was hired again by MPC Still just as fun second time around!

I have also worked on a music video at Passion Pictures as well as having a 18 month contract as a 3D Generalist at Ragdoll for the full production of 52 episodes of 'The Adventures of Abney and Teal'.

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Have you worked on any other short films since Devils?

Since Devils I haven't had the chance to help out on any more short films I may do again if I have some spare time, or, I may try to make my own short film mixing live action and vfx where possible!

Are you working on any personal projects?

In my spare time I have been working on a heavy destruction sequence for the past couple of years. Since I am doing everything on it, it seems to be taking ages! I also need a couple more copies of Renderman and a few more render nodes as each frame was taking over an hour with textures assigned etc, or I could cheat it and make the background a matte painting with projections.

I am looking into producing a short, I just need to find the right script for my style, will keep you posted if anything happens!!!

Is there anything you'd like to Promote?

Through ICM Studios I recently helped with the VFX on the comedy drama 'A Touch of Cloth' by Charlie Brooker along side LenscareFX. I did 4 shots on the project producing lightning coming out of New Blood's (Karen Gillan) hands! Floating paper and atmospheric smoke!

ICM Studios were also approached by Black Rock Films to produce VFX for the latest feature film 'Nightmare Hunters'. Between Adam Fenwick and I we completed 16 shots in 4k it was good fun working on plates shot on a Red camera!

A breakdown video of the VFX work that was carried out for 'A Touch of Cloth' can be found below:

and a full write up of the work can be found here: http://www.icmstudios.co.uk/projects/tv/a-touch-of-cloth-lightning-vfx

"Iskander, really was a pleasure to work with. He stuck around longer than pretty much every other team member, which is quite unusual on a volunteer project. He just kept finding interesting challenges to overcome, including things like the automated dynamic follow through on tails, hair and clothes. He's been a strong supporter ever since and had a great attitude. It's key people like that that really pull a project together." - Michael Cawood