“It is important to work on projects that are exciting to you but it is more important to join a company with good people. The advice I’d give is to really focus on finding a team that supports you and allows you to grow and expand.”
Chris Blasko joined DNEG in December 2019 as VFX Producer and worked on projects such as No Time to Die, Greyhound and Borderlands. He took on the Executive Producer role in February 2022 before being promoted to Head of Production for DNEG Montreal in July. Read on to hear about his experiences working both client-side and vendor-side roles, his jaunt into the world of virtual reality, and what he loves most about his new leadership position.
Hi Chris! What brought you into the world of VFX?
I certainly was always intrigued by film production. I grew up in New York and moved to California with the dream of getting involved in the industry – I drove out in my car and I didn’t really know what was coming next. I was young and unfocussed but I started looking at all different facets of the industry. Visual effects was an interest of mine and it presented a unique opportunity to start working in film. It ended up shaping my career. I spent a total of 16 years in California.
How did you get from there to your current role at DNEG?
It was a long road to end up where I really wanted to be. I started at Sony Pictures Imageworks. That was my first introduction to VFX production and I spent a few years there. I then got the bug to go to Europe so I found an opportunity at MPC in London. After a year in London, I missed California so I moved back wanting to grow in VFX. I went client-side and worked as a coordinator and production manager for three different client-side projects, including ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’, ‘The Lone Ranger’ and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ I was lucky to travel and get all the on-set experience I could have really asked for during this time.
From there, I was really interested in trying something new and virtual reality was an interesting prospect, and kind of tangentially related to VFX. I got the opportunity to work as a Post Supervisor in Austin, Texas for a budding VR company. It was a great experience to take the technical aspects of creating work in visual effects and to apply it to something a little bit different.
After a few years, I missed visual effects and I was ready to jump into a really exciting vendor-side job but in the many years since I had been vendor-side, everything had changed. LA was not the place to be anymore, Canada was. After meeting with DNEG, my wife, daughter and I were super happy to move up to Montreal to work with the team.
Everything has come full circle. I tried a lot of different things along the way and this is truly where I want to be.
What is your day-to-day like as the Head of Production?
I’d say reviewing and updating processes is a really important part of my job. It is what I start out each morning wanting to do but it sometimes ends up falling a bit behind because of other demands. I always keep that first and foremost as a priority. A lot of my day also consists of helping shows and the site team navigate deadlines. I do that by aiding in decision-making. From where resources go to other crewing decisions to render farm share, I look at solutions to help meet the demand of the moment. There’s a lot of time spent trying to navigate the impact of what-if, and determine if any given decision is in the best interest of the collective team.
What do you like the most about your job?
I really love being at DNEG. In this position specifically, I get to actually affect some positive change and I get to help ensure everyone else also has that same positive experience. I also like to iron out some of the wrinkles that I endured in the past, and work with our Production team to figure out what wrinkles they’re experiencing and to help sort those out.
I want to show everyone that this is a great place to be and I feel I can do that by making their jobs easier and making them feel heard. I also want to inspire people, and for them to know that there is opportunity here. If you care about this place and really see yourself here, there is opportunity for you to sit in my seat one day and to smooth out the wrinkles you’ve endured yourself along the way.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
It is important to work on projects that are exciting to you – whether it’s the biggest movie of the year or a property you’re personally passionate about – but it is more important to join a company with good people. The advice I’d give is to really focus on finding a team that supports you, keeps your best interests in mind, and allows you to grow and expand.
Time for some rapid fire questions – What’s one thing that is always on your desk when you work?
An old school calculator. In production, you’re always running the numbers.
What’s your ‘special power’ at work?
Cracking jokes during meetings. Humour and levity is important.
What are you most looking forward to every day?
1:1 meetings with producers. I’m involved with their shows on a day-to-day basis and I’m always up to speed on the progres of their specific projects but in these meetings we get to talk more about the company overall, their growth and what comes next.
Finish this sentence: DNEG is…
A VFX studio that continues to innovate by adding new levels of support and structure on a global level. We’re always making changes and implementing processes that better our team.
To find out about VFX at DNEG, click here. And if you are interested in joining DNEG’s Oscar-winning team, stay tuned for our next ‘FOCUS’ and click here to find out more about our open positions across our studios in North America, Europe and India.