Jay Worth Q&A: ‘The Magicians’ visual effects
“It’s definitely a visual effects-driven show,” says Jay Worth about the SyFy drama “The Magicians,” on which he took over as visual effects supervisor for the second season that is presently airing. “The Magicians” did not submit at the Emmys for Best Special Visual Effects last year, but Worth reveals in his interview with Gold Derby (watch above) that they have their eye on the prize this year.
Do not be surprised if Worth adds another nomination to his tally for “The Magicians.” A five-time Emmy nominee, going back to “Lost” in 2006, Worth has been recognized three times for programs that were otherwise shut out, first for “Fringe” in 2009, then “Almost Human” in 2014. His Best Supporting Special Visual Effects nomination for “11.22.63” just last year actually represented the first Primetime Emmy nomination ever for a Hulu series. He explains, “In our industry, the thing I’m proud of is that we’ve been able to get nominated for different shows and different types of shows, so that’s been a fun thing over the years just to find those different stories that get to be told and to be able to get recognized in various categories for various series has been a huge honor.”
Ostensibly for its dragons, “Game of Thrones” has won the effects Emmy the last five years, but an extended hiatus means that it will be sitting out this year. Worth mentions, “There will be hopefully dragons in there again this year; there just won’t be ‘Game of Thrones’ dragons,” as he will be submitting work from last week’s episode of “The Magicians” titled “The Rattening,” which features the first dragon of the series. “That one episode […] had the dragon, as well as the ‘shade hole’ and a few other things,” Worth explains before lamenting, “One of the challenging things about submissions is it’d be great if we could take kind of the best from the whole season and put the rainbow bridge in from the beginning and the baby cacodemon and these different things, so its always a little bit hard.”
Worth could score up to four nominations this year, as he also supervised effects on the short-lived “Roadies,” took over on “Wayward Pines” for its second season, which shoots in Vancouver like “The Magicians” and finally, the debut season of “Westworld” earned him his seventh nomination from the Visual Effects Society.
Following his break as the visual effects coordinator for “Alias” in 2005, Worth has worked on a dozen other aired shows also from J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions. “It was actually only my second non-Bad Robot show,” Worth reveals about “The Magicians,” the first being “Wayward Pines.” Bad Robot has increasingly shifted to film with the “Mission: Impossible,” “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” franchises, but Worth has stayed in television to minimize traveling away from his family; he only worked on Bad Robot’s first blockbuster “Cloverfield” in 2008. He opens up, “As I saw them moving away from broadcast and out of the normal pilot-series cycle, I saw that there was going to be a need to branch out a little bit.”
Regarding unique challenges presented by “The Magicians,” Worth says, “We had a lot of fun figuring out well how can we make the magic really connect with what the [characters] are doing?” The first season was set primarily at the fictional Brakebills University for magic, but the second season has largely relocated to the fantasy world of Fillory. “We redesigned Fillory quite a bit [and] saw the castle a lot more this season,” says Worth, who ironically makes it his mission to keep things grounded: “I look at VFX as really good seasoning; I don’t really like the projects where VFX is the cake […] If it doesn’t have a texture to it that feels like it’s based in reality, I think it falls apart.”