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Spotlight on… Cyrille Bonjean, VFX Supervisor

We put the spotlight on the French and Belgian MPC teams by asking them ten questions about their careers, challenges and projects that have marked their journey in the VFX industry this far. They talk about their accomplishments and give advice to the new generations who would like to embark on the same career path as them.

August 14, 2023

Cyrille Bonjean began his career as a Compositing Artist, then moved on to become a Compositing Supervisor, working on film sets and serving as a stereoscopic consultant.

Today, he is a Visual Effects Supervisor and has contributed to over 70 projects in 12 years. 

My job is divided into four phases and involves overseeing a project from the script stage to the delivery of the visual effects.  

The first phase is the study phase, which includes reading the script and creating a list of possible VFX for the film, as well as determining the methodology to implement these. This is also the research phase where we find references that to match the project.  

With this initial list of VFX and selected references, we meet with the Director and their close team. During this time, we provide cost estimates based on the VFX list that has been specified with the Director and Producers. 

The second phase is the pre-production phase, which often starts with a meeting with the Department Heads to explain and confirm the methodologies. This is also when we finalize the distribution of tasks between departments such as on-set special effects, make-up effects, set decoration, animal trainers, stunts, costumes, and more. I also align my VFX list with the film’s shooting schedule to have a chronological overview of the project, which I then share with our relevant contacts. Additionally, we conduct specific VFX tests with the support of the Cinematographer and Director, as well as creating previsualizations for the more complex scenes. 

The third phase is the actual production phase during which I participate in the shooting the VFX shots. At times, I may be accompanied by my CG Supervisor, Compositing Supervisor, or other technicians and coordinators as needed. The fourth phase is the VFX post-production phase. After reviewing the film based on the edited footage, I update the cost estimates to match the shots that have been sent for VFX creation. My team and I strive to form the best possible team according to our needs. I can rely on the studio and the selected Supervisors from each department, such as CG (assets, rigging, animation, FX, lighting, etc.), Environment, and Compositing. Each supervisor leads their part of the team, and together we create the VFX from the initial assets to final composited shots. My role is to oversee this process from both an artistic and technical point of view, all while continuously exchanging feedback with the Director to best convey their intentions to the team. Once all the shots are presented and approved, it’s time to wrap-up and prepare for the next adventure. Most of the time our projects overlap, so while one project is being manufactured, others are already in the production, pre-production, or study phases.  

This role allows me to have an overview of the entire production process. 

I have many projects that I love for different reasons. I am fortunate to work on various types of films, ranging from intimate art-house films to big action comedies. These collaborations often result in beautiful projects and wonderful encounters. Personally, I have a soft spot for fantasy and monsters. I’ve had the opportunity to work on several films where creatures played significant roles: a werewolf in the Brazilian film Good Manners, for which we won the Best Visual Effects award at the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize; a cave-dwelling monster with strange phallic features in the Argentine film Murder Me, Monster; and recently, a winged man and a chameleon child in Animal Kingdom, which opened the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival

Among these, I am most proud of Animal Kingdom because I find it visually stunning. A beautiful story with captivating performances, all of which are supported by exceptional visual effects. This project is also important to me because it allowed our studio to push our boundaries even further. 

“Give yourself the means to try it if that’s what you desire.” 

When the VFX work well, and we see the visual execution of what we had imagined. 

I believe you only realize that you’ve reached the highlight of your career when you start coming down from it. I’m waiting to see what comes next, so let’s discuss this in a few years’ time! 🙂 

There isn’t one specific shot, but there have been many projects that kept me awake at night! 🙂 

That’s the problem when I create or prepare things—my mind doesn’t witch off. Especially at night. It tries to anticipate all possible scenarios. Among the complex shots I’ve worked on, I remember a shot in the film La Rafle, another in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and some recent shots by my artists in Animal Kingdom. What makes them memorable is that they are very long sequences and they are constructed with complex structures. 

Many filmmakers and artists inspire me, both past and present. They are part of my personal pantheon due to their actions, discoveries, or other contributions. Some of them include Alejandro González Iñárritu, Steven Spielberg, Bong Joon-Ho, Sam Raimi, and artists like Dali, Stan Lee, Banksy, Rémi Brun, and Leonardo da Vinci. 

Daily, I mostly rely on my family and friends who know how to reignite my passion. 

It’s hard to choose because there are many great films with different styles. If I had to pick two, they would be Ron Howard’s Willow and Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite.  

I really like the Harry Potter series, especially the final film. I worked on it, so I have a special attachment to it.  

I also enjoy the X-Men films and superheroes in general. The Lion King and Transformers are also great. Other favourites include The Greatest Showman, Elvis, Animal Kingdom, Olga, Rust and Bone, Costa Brava Lebanon, City Hunter and 1917

Thanks Cyrille! Interested in working with him and our French teams? Apply here.

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