Matt Kasmir interview: ‘The Midnight Sky’ visual effects
“It’s quite a process to be nominated,” admits Oscar nominated visual effects supervisor Matt Kasmir about the nerve-wracking build-up to the Oscar nominations announcement. Last month, after ten films made it to the rigorous VFX “bakeoff” process, all members of the motion picture academy’s visual effects branch are invited to view video presentations for the shortlisted films, where five films are cut and the remaining five become Oscar-nominated.
Kasmir acknowledges that while “it’s a huge amount of effort, you have to edit a reel, there are rules,” it is all worth it on the morning of the announcement. “Just to be nominated is such an accolade, it’s hugely exciting,” he says. He now enjoys his first ever nod, alongside his colleagues Chris Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins. Watch our exclusive video interview with Kasmir above.
“The Midnight Sky” is based on the Lily Brooks-Dalton novel “Good Morning, Midnight,” directed by leading man George Clooney, who plays Augustine Lofthouse, a lonely scientist secluded in an isolated Arctic base. The contemplative sci-fi drama takes place in 2049, three weeks after an unnamed apocalyptic “event” has decimated Earth, in which Augustine has remained on his ruined homeworld to warn a returning spaceship not to return home after its two-year mission.
Kasmir believes the Netflix space drama made the final cut because the effects work had a significantly “filmic presence” on set, providing more tactile and physical effects that ultimately enhance the film’s narrative. “We used LED volumes instead of compositing shots, rosco back projection instead of blue screens,” he says. These techniques often compliment the film’s other creative department heads, rather than dominate them, Kasmir explains.
“A lot of the Academy, they appreciate filmmaking. Rightly or wrongly, VFX has a slightly bad reputation for walking on set and maybe taking over too many disciplines because we do transcend and we do cross. We can be in charge of costume or we can definitely tread on or cross the production design barrier and cinematography. There’s an element of allowing the other departments back into the world of visual effects rather than excluding them and I think that’s what sets us apart.”