Media Industries: Roles and Practice (FXHome)

Media Industries: Roles and Practice

FXHome are a visual effects software developing company situated in Norfolk. Their software is aimed at film makers wanting to produce visual effects for their productions. They also produce short films and sequences to coincide with their software. FXHome started when managing director Joshua Davies created visual effects software for his step-brother who was studying Film and English at UEA. FXHome has been going for more than ten years now. HitFilm is their latest piece of software.

Joshua explained that even though there are reasons they should be located somewhere else such as London or  Los Angeles, they stayed in Norwich is mainly due to most of the company consisting of UEA graduates, who generally like to stay and work in Norwich. Also, Norwich is a cheaper place to run a company. Joshua expressed how he thinks that FXHome would have died if they started in London. ­­­­­Travelling overseas is still import for the company, as managing director Joshua has to travel to the United States  to network with companies such as Sony who bundle their software and Corridor Digital who have produced short films to coincide with HitFilm. With the power of the internet  they can network with companies online; although time difference is sometimes an issue. Simon Jones, communications manager who deals with the social network side of the company and general marketing expressed how even though they are based in Norfolk they are not perceived as a local company as none of their business is in Norfolk and mainly based in the States.

The community that use their software is very important to the FXHome team. Simon explained how when the company first started a lot of their users were young teenager film makers who are now in their twenties and have made a place for themselves in the film industry. FXHome have kept in contact with them and have now have their own network of filmmakers who they can work with on their own projects. Independent film makers can show their work on the FXHome forums and get feedback on their films and network with other film makers all over the world. An example of this is Corridor Digital, now well-known film makers on YouTube. The two guys of Corridor Digital started off using FXHome software when they were thirteen years old and have significantly progressed. They recently did a film to coincide with HitFilm called Prism, executively produced by Joshua Davies. Prism promotes the HitFilm software and currently has over 1,500,000 views on YouTube.

The team at HitFilm have shot films in Norfolk to coincide with software as well. This is their way of marketing the software as their marketing budget is quite low compared to some other software companies. In the summer of 2011 they shot a short Batman-inspired fan film titled Knightfall directed by Joshua Davies­­. The film was not well received on YouTube comments, mostly from angry fans of the source material. Despite having a lot of hits the video was the least liked film from the company by viewers. The film did not finish as planned due to scheduling conflicts and lighting issues on the day of shooting. It was made on a low budget and filmed all in one day but was made with software tutorials in mind and was used to show users how to use HitFilm and what the software’s visual effects were capable of and to drive people towards the product.

In early 2012 they released a Deus-Ex film based on the video game called Extraction Protocol directed by Simon Jones. Production was a lot more successful this time around and so was the feedback. Simon explained that it was going out to a different crowd than Knightfall and that films based on this particular game are rare so it was an original production.

­Joshua Davies explained that when they were first producing content on a low budget it was a lot easier to get locations. It was as simple as going to the UEA and asking to shoot in certain rooms and areas but now, ten years on, issues such as  permissions, insurance, health and safety, times and dates is a lot more strict making it hard for any zero budget film maker. It is also difficult to shoot with anything that looks like a weapon as there are very strict laws on this in the United Kingdom.

For their short film Fracture they had to put people in hotels, had catering on set, a professional cast and crew and it all cost the company between ten and twenty thousand pounds. A lot of their budget is not shown on screen and goes into the backend, administration part of the production.  But crews of their films are normally made up of their established contacts who are all local. Their films are produced using DSLR or Sony FS100 cameras with several lenses and camera dollies, tripods etc..

Joshua explained that working on the films is a brilliant experience. Although stressful because the films are normally ambitious and time is short. He often finds himself sleeping in the corner of sets.  Simon expressed how he loved how intense a set can be because of the time restrictions but this makes it essential to have good people working on the film.  Joshua and Simon both want the production to be a pleasant experience and fun for the crew.  When developing the software or producing a film they want there to be a sense of ownership in the company; so that everybody has bit of the product that they worked on and can be proud of.

The team are quite open to talk about competition. Often asked how their product compares to Adobe after Effects they will discuss the advantages of their product compared to their competition but will happily admit that there competition has advantages too.

Joshua and Simon explained that in a few years time they see that their software will have grown but want to resist becoming a massive, faceless company. They want the view count on their films to grow massively on YouTube and stay honest to their customers and audience. For their productions they want to continue working with local people and commission them to produce content for their software. They feel they are still learning as a small team of film makers and enjoy every minute of it.

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