“It is a great honor to be amongst a group of people, the five nominated movies, because my hope is that my peers that voted to put us in that list appreciated that we used visual effects slightly differently,” visual effect supervisor Guillaume Rocheron admits about his second career nomination for “1917.’ “[It is a] a cinematic experience that is very different from anything else that you’ve seen.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Rocheron above.
Rocheron is nominated alongside Greg Butler and Dominic Tuohy for their acclaimed visual effects work on the war epic. He is a previous winner for “Life of Pi” in 2012, which he shared with Bill Westenhofer, Erik De Boer and Donald Elliott.
“1917” is Sam Mendes‘ acclaimed war epic in which two soldiers (Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay) are sent on a mission to deliver a life-saving message across the trenches of World War I France to prevent their countrymen from stepping into a trap. The film has won high praise from critics and fans as an astonishing technical achievement, including how the film is shot to look like one continuous take, immersing its audience in relentless and often breathtaking action as we follow the men as they race across enemy territory in what feels like real time. The film is flying high after an already successful awards season with ten Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture, Best Director (Mendes) and Best Original Screenplay (Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns).
Rocheron was thrilled to be invited back to the Oscars for a film that he says is “a very different use of visual effects,” adding that “visual effects always innovate and bring new ways to tell stories and so many movies rely on visual effects now to create things that are not from this planet or create events that are exceptional or ‘unfilmable’,” he explains. “‘1917’ is a bit different from all these movies. It’s a movie about World War One, so the visual effects are not really here to create spectacle and it’s not a movie about the explosions or the action.”
Mendes, together with iconic cinematographer Roger Deakins and film editor Lee Smith delivered a technically astounding achievement in creating a film that appears as one continuous take over the entire length of the film. And yet, without the work of Rocheron and his team, the effect would not have appeared as seamless and organic as it does.
“Visual effects is obviously the work we do on the computer in post-production, but it is also the work that the special effects team does on set. I think people really appreciated the balance of trying to shoot as much as we could practically with some very challenging practical effects,” Rocheron explains. “We’ve attempted something that hasn’t been done before in this form; creating a one-shot movie in an exterior world that never repeats. It’s a journey that goes from A to B and it never stops,” he says. “For us, the idea was to be completely invisible, which was the greatest challenge for us. When you do a one-shot movie, you don’t want anything to distract the audience in to thinking they’ve been tricked, blending each sequence seamlessly into each other.”
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