MILL FILM BOWS
OUT OF EFFECTS BIZ
Copyright 2002 www.variety.com
[ November 19th 2002 ]
special effects facility Mill Film is bowing out
of the feature f/x biz, with "Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets" serving as its swan song.
Mill Film's London-based parent the Mill will
not shutter, but said it will now focus its efforts
exclusively on its growing commercials and advertising
businesses. The Mill originally was founded in
1990, by brothers Ridley and Tony Scott, to create
high-end f/x for commercials and music vids.
Film was spun off in 1997 to create computer-generated
visuals for films. It employed as many as 150
f/x artists, depending on which projects the facility
was working on. "Mill Film has built up a world-class
reputation working on the best feature work around,
but we have decided that after five years and
an Oscar, the time is right for us to leave the
film industry," said Robin Shenfield, CEO of the
Mill. "We will be concentrating all our future
investment and energy on our core advertising
business. This will mean refocusing Mill Film
technology and expertise into high-end and high-definition
doesn't come as much of a surprise to the f/x
community in the U.S. and the U.K. Although its
work was pricy, the Mill evolved into a considerable
presence among f/x studios after its Oscar win
for "Gladiator" in 2001. Shortly after, it landed
big f/x pics "Black Hawk Down," "Cats & Dogs,"
"Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and sequences for both
"Harry Potter" pics, as well as shots for the
latest James Bond actioner, "Die Another Day."
Other credits include "Hannibal," "Pluto Nash,"
"The Avengers," "A Knight's Tale," HBO's "Band
of Brothers" and this summer's "K-19: The Widowmaker."
the company's high overhead and struggle to land
f/x-heavy pics that weren't either shot by the
Scott brothers or lured to the U.K. through tax
incentives -- it hadn't been able to attract another
pic after the latest "Harry Potter" -- proved
a costly hurdle for the f/x arm to overcome. Add
to that the heavy competish from local Soho shops,
including Cinesite Europe, the Moving Picture
Co. and Framestore CFC. "Mill Film has been a
creative and commercial success," Shenfield said.
"However, film is a volatile business that requires
both scale and continuous investment. It is hugely
dependent on U.S. studios bringing work to the
U.K. to take advantage of tax breaks. So we have
decided to focus our energies and future investment
on our core business, advertising."
ad clients include Guinness, Levi's, Mercedes-Benz,
BMW, Nike, Reebok and Pepsi. The Mill had been
planning to expand its commercials biz. It opened
a commercials production office in New York in
July, and now with the company's realignment plans
to expand that office, as well as expanding its
editing and f/x capabilities at its London headquarters.
also includes opening more editing and f/x suites
within London's ad agencies. It already has several
such suites inside Ogilvy & Lowe. It will also
continue to invest and expand its Internet-based
review, approval and media asset archive service,
BEAM.TV, used by a community of post houses, ad
agencies and production companies. Proprietary
technology that Mill Film created for feature
f/x will be moved over to the commercials group,
"where increasingly more complex computer-generated
imagery and high-definition skills are demanded,"
Shenfield said. "We will also continue to invest
in the best technology in order to strengthen
the Mill and take it to new heights of excellence.
The opportunities in advertising are too good
to pass up, and need 100% focus and commitment."