Interview With Compositor, Nick Tragenza

Category :BTS
– What is your job title and role in the industry?

I’m currently a digital compositor.

– What projects have you worked on? What would be some of your most well known credits?

Probably far to many to name here! But some well known movies, have been Kingsman: Golden Circle, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Stan and Ollie, Strike Back: Legacy, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Oultlander: series 4, Fortitude: series 2, How To Train Your Dragon: Homecoming, and the recent Worzel Gummidge reboot – among many, many others!

– Could you explain a little about your career journey in the VFX / film industry? 

I actually started in the film industry waaay back in 2000, as a film extra, with every intention of becoming an actor. I did two years of acting training, and landed a variety of small roles opposite some very famous people in some very big productions – both on TV and cinema films (although my best roles were on TV, on the likes of BBC’s drama “Spooks” and ITV’s “Primeval” – and made a few appearances over the years on those, among many others). I also had some blink-and-you’ll-miss-me roles on films like Shaun of the Dead, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and all the Christopher Nolan Batman movies (among others!). Over the years, I have been personally directed with only one or two selected others in certain scenes in movies by the likes of Richard Curtis (Love Actually), Ridley Scott (Robin Hood), and Steven Spielberg (War Horse), among others. Needless to say, none of those shots made the final cut, or I might not be sitting here now…! (hahaha)

I mention this, because in the process of wanting to create a proper showreel and bag a decent agent, and get more prominent roles, a close friend upgraded my PC at the time, complete with some software to achieve this, without having to pay anyone else to do it…! He did this as a return favour for me letting him live at mine rent free on and off over a number of years. Among the software he provided, was After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere Pro and 3ds Max. I got to playing around with those when I wasn’t filming – and found I liked doing that even more than acting…! I dabbled with short scenes and shots, and used to bring the results on my PDA (as it was back then – around 2006) onto whatever film set I was on. It got me noticed! An actor friend of mine – who was also the lead singer for a band at the time, hired me to do the VFX for one of their music videos, and I was hooked! It took me a few more years to build up my skills, working on many independent short and feature length films (many unpaid) for a few years – I didn’t do any official courses as money was extremely tight at the time. I gradually started getting more and more paid jobs, including a couple of documentaries for a historian friend of mine I met during the filming of War Horse. Those productions were used for the History Museum and the National Trust, and things started to build after that.

But once I landed my first BIG gig, I never looked back. I got to work briefly on “Monuments Men” and “Jupiter Ascending” on my first proper contract, but I still had a lot to learn, and the next year or so was a bit up and down, but never boring – and I was not about to give in after all this time, no matter how tough it was!

This might seem strange from someone who has now been around the block more than a few times doing this job, but I love this job more now than I did back then. There’s still a lot to discover and learn, and I learn something new on almost every single job, and I feel that I have grown more with every job, and continue to do so – which is a great feeling!

– How long have you been in the VFX industry?

I was a supporting artiste between 2000-2016. I started dabbling with visual effects around 2005-2006, but didn’t land my first professional gig until 2013, as a Roto Paint/ Prep artist. I didn’t become a full on compositor until around 2014.

– What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Some of my personal fave highlights, would be Kingsman: Golden Circle as I am a big fan of those films, and since I first started out, had always wanted to work at The Senate. Another was working for Fluid Pictures in 2016. Although my stint there was short, they made me feel VERY welcome, and I have never felt so much a valued “family” member as I did during my time there – including a meeting with a director of a BBC documentary we were working on at the time, who asked me for my opinion on the approach for the VFX on a particular shot – and my supervisor agreed with my input. At the time, I felt very much as though I was on the boundary of a junior to mid level comper, but was being treated like a senior or a lead – which was amazing! I also thoroughly enjoyed my numerous stints with Darkside over the years, who are now sadly, no more.

– What’s on the horizon for you?

Who can say?! This job never ceases to amaze me! I have no idea what is coming next, but I do prefer working on the big movies, but with the smaller companies: I feel more at home there. I’m just happy whenever I am working, whether it’s a TV show or a commercial, or a corporate presentation. I do have a couple of personal projects in the pipeline that I do additional work on whenever I have time off, that are intended to push my abilities as a visual effects artist – and not just on a compositing level.
As a freelancer, I think that I would like to be a permanent member of staff for somewhere for at least a year at some point, just to have a little more security for a while.

– What are you currently using Nerdeo for? Tell us about your project.

Nerdeo has been useful a couple of times in filling in the gaps between longer contracts, and has also helped me to hone my skills – and highlight which areas of my home system needed upgrading and improving (!)

– What has your experience as an artist on Nerdeo been like so far? What have you enjoyed the most?

To date, I have only worked for one guy so far…but he must’ve liked my work, cos I ended up doing two projects for him! My experience has been a positive one so far, and I’m glad those jobs came up when they did.

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