Featured Nerd – Director / Producer, James Roberts

Nerdeo: Who are you and what do you do?

I’m one of the world’s many Jameses, and I’m a Director/Producer. I also still frequently roll up my sleeves and get stuck into a nice composite or edit… I guess I’m just a control freak.

Nerdeo: What projects have you worked on? What would you be most famous for?

I’m not sure the word famous is applicable (it definitely isn’t). Although I’ve worked on the VFX for a dozen or so big name droppy CV-padding films such as The Dark Knight, Quantum of Solace and Where The Wild Things Are. That was a great way to kick things off as a wide-eyed Animation graduate.

As for some things I’ve actually Produced or Directed, check out the 2015 Vice documentary Wolf of the West End. I also create weird black comedy films with the uber-talented bastards known as Casual Violence. We’re in the middle of making a trilogy of pitch-black Christmas themed shorts right now. So watch out for Violent Night in or around December 2016.

Nerdeo: You started The Whole Buffalo, soon after quitting Framestore. What direction do you see your own production company heading?

We’re at an exciting crossroads. I’ve recently joined forces with Through The I. In the last few weeks alone I’ve created videos for Weetabix, E4, Argos (which = free Star Wars toys! …for 1 day) and even Michael Portillo. Imagine them all sat around a dinner table.

I’ve always endeavored to gently guide clients towards the most creative, cinematic and daring response to a brief. As a result, many of our TV ads, promos (and even corporate videos) over the years have involved prosthetic makeup, extensive greenscreen and even full CGI environments. I look back on it all as a training ground, preparing our team to move into making series, and ultimately, feature films. That’s now starting to pay off and over the next few months we’ll hopefully be able to announce some exciting broadcast and online projects.


Nerdeo: As a short film and commercials director working on smaller budgets you need a good team and good use of kit. Can you tell us more about your team and the kit you use on shoots?

It’s all about multitasking and pure creativity. Starting off at a place like Framestore leaves a lasting eye for detail (aka pedantry). Editing and composting material that I’ve personally pitched, storyboarded and directed is challenging but highly satisfying when it comes to delivering the finished project. It streamlines the production process (and makes it affordable!) by saving a whole bunch of meetings and emails… since I’d essentially just be talking to myself.

I also make sure I work with artists I’m secretly jealous/in awe of. The most frequent and fruitful collaborations have been with Dan McRae (Music & Sound Design), Jon Bosley (CGI), Monika Bereza (Costumes & Props), Ian Martin (DOP/Camera) and James Hamilton (Writer/Wierdo). At this point we’re like a family… a really odd looking dysfunctional stupid family.

As for kit, the Canon C300 (and now the MkII) has served us well. The obvious and sensible choice is to hire (I only actually own a Go Pro and very modest DSLR kit) as you’ll always need access to the very latest high end toys. Post Production is almost always via Adobe Premiere and After Effects, with Cinema 4D and it’s many plugins picking up the CG slack.

Nerdeo: On a personal note; what projects would you like to create or direct in the near future?

I’ve been nursing several babies with James Hamilton over the last 18 months or so… not actual babies (they already died). All of them are strange and dark, but overflowing with genuine emotion and striking visuals. It seems one of those strange emotional babies may be about to hatch. I don’t want to jinx anything by speaking it’s name.

Twitter: @JamesRobertsVFX
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