Sean Faden interview: ‘Moon Knight’ visual effects supervisor
“They really do respect and collaborate and include the visual effects team as part of the creative process,” reveals Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Sean Faden (“Mulan”) about the upside of working on a high-profile Marvel Studios project. For our recent webchat, he adds that “it really felt like we were along for the ride the entire time and we were giving our ideas, and sometimes they were bad ones and sometimes they were good ones, but there was always a back and forth and we would kind of all reach the final look of things together.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Moon Knight” was created by Jeremy Slater, based on the Marvel comics featuring the character of the same name. Slater’s vision as head writer was then shepherded during production by Egyptian helmer Mohamed Diab (who directed four of the six episodes) with collaborators Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson directing the second and fourth episodes on the Disney+ limited series, the sixth TV production in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki,” “What If…?” and “Hawkeye.”
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Oscar Isaac stars as Marc Spector (a.k.a. Moon Knight) and Steven Grant (a.k.a. Mr. Knight), two alters of a man with dissociative identity disorder (who we eventually learn is joined by a third alter, the mysterious Jake Lockley). Marc is a ruthless mercenary who becomes Moon Knight, the avatar (i.e. the manifestation of a deity in bodily form on earth) for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, with his alter Steven, a mild-mannered British gift-shop employee who becomes Mr. Knight, Steven’s persona when he is Khonshu’s avatar. The series co-stars May Calamawy as Spector’s estranged wife Layla El-Faouly (who later becomes the Scarlet Scarab), Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke as villain Harrow and Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, the voice of Khonshu. “Moon Knight” premiered March 30 to critical acclaim and strong word-of-mouth, with critics reserving special praise for Isaac and the show’s impressive production values and darker tone.
As expected on a big budget action adventure series like “Moon Knight,” the visual effects play a major role in the look and feel of the show and consequently whether the show successfully sticks the landing, particularly when expectations are so high. While Faden agrees that he had his work cut out for him on this project, he humbly defers to his colleagues and the show’s star when pointing to why the show ended up being such a triumph. “The amount of different artists that actually came together for this project was the highlight. We had really one of the, probably the best production designers I’ve ever worked with, Stefania Cella, and really one of the greatest costume designers with Megan Kasperlik and an awesome cinematography team with between Gregory Middleton and Andrew Droz Palermo. We had a good set of artisans putting their minds together for this for this one,” he says, saving his most effusive praise for Isaac, who routinely wowed cast and crew on set with his uncanny ability to subtly transition between his different alters. “Seeing Oscar Isaac actually create this character from the beginning,” he says, “seeing that evolution and just seeing how much he was keeping in his head and figuring it out; to see it all finished really where it made sense, we were all doing our things to support all the story and support everything, but really just seeing his performance tying it all together was a highlight for me.”