"After 15 years in Hollywood, I don't feel intimidated by any project"
Marco Checa Garcia is a Montreal based Visual Effects Artist who started his career 15 years ago working in some of the most prestigious VFX studios around the world, working in more than 40 feature films. His credits as VFX artist include Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows like "Game of Thrones", "Life of Pi", "Iron Man 3", "Tron Legacy", "Thor", "District 9" and many others.
His work as Director includes music videos with an extreme and innovate visual style and the short film "2BR02B: To Be or Naught To Be", based in the classic sci-fi Kurt Vonnegut's story. This short film had a quite successful international film festival run, winning more than twenty awards, including Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi and Best Actor (Mackenzie Gray).
We asked Marco to join us for an interview, and met a passionate artist who is a huge fan of Sci-Fi films, and no matter how big his next project will be- he never feels intimidated ("I'm used to stress").
Marco Checa Garcia
Let's talk about your background. Where did you grow up, how did you get into films and specifically the visual-effects world?
I'm originally from Spain and after finishing my film school studies I started my career as a documentaries editor. Then I became more and more intrigued with VFX and I was very lucky because after moving to London I found a work as VFX Artist pretty quickly.
When did you move to Montreal, and why?
I moved to Montreal one year ago after living seven years in Vancouver. We missed living in a more European city, also closer to Spain, so Montreal was an obvious choice.
2BR02B: To Be or Naught To Be - Teaser
Who are some of the filmmakers that inspired your work, and how?
The most influential filmmakers for me are Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott, but obviously the Ridley Scott of Alien and Blade runner, I'm not enjoying too much his latest films...:)
Another filmmaker I feel passionate about is Denis Villeneuve. I think he is a true artist but he knows how to adapt his films to also be successful in the box office. And he is from Montreal...:)
Tell us about your work as a VFX artist and supervisor for the most prestigious VFX studios in the world. You've worked on over 40 features, and your credits include "Game of Thrones", "Life of Pi", "Iron Man 3", "Tron Legacy", "Thor" and "District 9", to name a few... What are some of your responsibilities as a senior compositor and senior VFX artist, and what are the challenges you have to deal with on a daily basis?
Being a Senior VFX Artist it's very demanding nowadays because you have to take care of the most difficult and challenging work. Sometimes spending many weeks working in a single shot. For example I worked in the film Alice Through the Looking Glass for one year and I finsihed 20 shots only, my whole work in the film was less than three minutes after one year of hard work. In some of these senior shots there are dozens of artists working on it at the same time. My work is to assemble all the CG pieces and real image and make everything look photorealistic, you need to be an artistic person with a good eye for color, composition, etc.
Do you ever feel intimated by an upcoming project? How do you approach such project?
I don't feel intimidated because I've been working in the same kind of projects for more than 15 years now. In 2015 I worked in four or five high budget Hollywood films so for me is the norm, I'm used to stress... :)
What drove you to tell the story of 2BR02B, which is based on the classic sci-fi Kurt Vonnegut's story?
I'm a huge fan of science fiction and I knew about Vonnegut's short stories. For some reason there are almost no film adaptations of his literature. My producer Derek discovered that 2BR02B was open domain, that means anybody can make a film adaptation. Then we decided to go ahead.
Creating a film like 2BR02B requires a lot of moving parts, talent, and budget. Luckily, you've had some rock-star names involved in the film. How did you recruit this amazing cast and crew?
The short film was shot in Vancouver and luckily is one of the places in the world with more film production in this moment, so we were surrounded by talent. We sent the script to a few well known talented local artists and luckily they loved the project and decided to do it. Melissa, Mackenzie, Tyler, Jason, Artin... all of them are doing really well so that's always good publicity for the film.
What was the biggest challenge creating 2BR02B?
The biggest challenge was, without any doubt, shooting a 15 minutes script in one location only. Apart from a few shots in the morgue at the beginning the whole film happens in one location only: the hospital waiting room, so planning the camera movements with all the actors moving around and talking to each other was really challenging.
How was it received? What were some of the reactions from audiences?
If was received really well, the short film screened in almost 30 film festivals around the world, including big names like Hollyshorts in L.A, Lund, the Boston Sci-Fi festival and many others. Also we got several awards and really good reviews from film critics after all those screenings.
The movie presents a very strong, unique innovate visual style - and that can be said about much of your work, including the music videos you directed. Do you feel working on music videos is in any way different than working on a narrative film / tv show?
I think that music videos have their own kind of visual narrative, it also needs to match the music rhythm and mood. Music videos are very interesting from a Director's point of view because most of the time the artists are willing to innovate, to try new things. Nobody wants a conservative music video showing things that have been shown a thousand times before. The big difference with short films are obviously the dialogues, in a short you need actors able to perform in a dramatic and convincing way while in music videos you only need actors visually expressive.
According to IMDb, you're currently in pre-production for the next project, the drama "Eleven Day of Hell". What can you tell us about it, and what projects are you currently working on?
Right now I'm working in the film adaptation of the classic comic book from the 80's "Druuna: Morbus Gravis". We own the rights to do it and hopefully after the script is finished we can start the film adaptation. "Eleven Days of Hell" is just a collaboration for the moment.
What is the best movie of 2017, in your opinion?
Best 2017 film, no doubt, is Blade Runner 2049. But the best show I have seen is not a film, is a TV show: The Handmaid's Tale. It also has many similarities with 2BR02B so I absolutely loved it. It's very clear that nowadays all the talent is migrating to TV projects and films are getting the leftovers. Who knows, maybe in ten years time nobody will go to the movie theatre anymore and we all will stay at home watching Netflix in our brand new 4K screens and 6.1 surround sound.
Is there anything you wish to add?
I hope everybody enjoys 2BR02B: To Be or Naught To Be and thanks a lot for supporting short films.