João is one of those rare people who is the trio of super talented, humble & incredibly inspiring all at the same time. His long and diverse career in VFX spans a variety of Commercials, TV and Film projects, and has taken him from his home country in Brazil, all the way to Canada, where he now works at Framestore Montréal.
I had the pleasure of working with João at Image Engine, where he shared some valuable lessons, and helped me along my never-ending journey towards becoming a better artist. He was gracious enough to share this insightful interview with me, which I’m excited to share with you!
Note: The following answers have not been edited, to preserve the integrity of João’s responses.
Who was the first person or studio who paid you to do VFX?
First pay stub I got was working as a Video Lab Assistant back in 1998 while I was studying Advertising and Marketing in São Paulo, Brazil. Among my duties, I was responsible for recording and editing all their material and all the conferences the university hosted in their campuses as well as keeping track of all their inventory and maintaining the equipment (cameras, lighting gear, editing suites and etc). I also had to support students on their projects and be the point person to help figure out their scripts and the shooting and post production. It was an incredible rich experience and it definitely helped me understand a lot in regards to how things get done and all the nuances of peoples management.
What piece of knowledge or advice do you wish you had in your early years of working in VFX?
To get yourself involved in a much bigger circle of friendships and relationships. It turns out that we are all a hand shake away from changing our futures and if you expand your connections you definitely get exposed to different people and with that, different projects, different needs and it does truly change your experiences and how much fun you can get while getting involved in side projects. I had been fortunate to meet some great people that lead my life in crazy directions but it took me a long time to open to accept that sometimes you have to let life take you instead of planning every single step.
Tell us about your most productive failure — something that didn’t quite go to plan, perhaps in a negative way, that you ultimately learned from.
I was sent to China to oversee a shoot in my first day at work in a new company and although I was super excited about the whole opportunity I was completely unprepared. No gear (laptop, camera, tripods), no documentation, I was literally thrown into the situation. I had to get the visa and all sorted in 1 day and it was incredible stressful but then I felt I was ready to do it.
Once there, the crew spoke 3 different languages and communication was really slow and again, I could hear my heart beats breaking the silence on set. It ultimately took some time to sink in and the whole thing went ok.
From that experience, I’ve learned that you won’t be fully prepared as things change and evolve in ways not possible anticipated, but you need to be fully aware of your skills and learn as you go. Been helpful in any situation always help you bond with people and you are the one that ultimately learns from the experience the most.
What is the most memorable book, article or TED talk you’ve consumed in the past 12 months (or recent memory), that has made an impact on your life?
I keep watching Amelie (French movie from Jean-Pierre Jeunet) every 2 or 3 months and each time I always find myself looking at life in a different way, always a more curious and naive way which I really like. It puts my whole experience in perspective and makes me want to be a bit more engaging and live everything in a deeper level.
Who inspires you?
The people with whom I share most of my days at work, their backgrounds and how talented they are. I also love to look for inspiration in nature and observing my surroundings, while looking up and ahead we find all sorts of things and many ideas come from simply observation.
We often endure long and hard crunch times in our industry — How do you remain upbeat, positive & productive, and generally maintain a decent quality of life during these times?
Whenever it’s crunch times I focus on what needs to be done and how exciting is to be at the point in the show where things are almost fully ready to go. I usually treat those moments as “little projects within the show” so I can put myself in perspective, run and get to the finish line.
It’s often that during those periods some areas in my life don’t get as much attention as I would like to but I keep focused on what I am doing and ultimately, in how FREAKING AWESOME is the work we do. Any shot can turn into a REEL SHOT, you have to be there for you and focus will help you with it in any circumstance.
Where would you like to see the VFX industry headed in the next 3 to 5 years? How do you envision getting to that point?
The future is so unpredictable, but I see VFX been used more and more in many different areas of entertainment and art. The whole idea of VR been used for training is fantastic, vfx supporting more creative art exhibits and ultimately enhancing our own experience with the world, either by showing us unimaginable images or simple by adding content to things that had none.
Where can people find out more about you and your work?
I’ve joined Framestore and it’s awesome to see their legacy in vfx and how much they helped push VFX forward.