Ballina mayor Sharon Cadwallader, Will Gammon founder and CEO Cumulus VFX and The Honourable Benjamin Cameron Franklin MLC Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Regional Youth. (Photo: Natalie Grono)
Cumulus VFX will relocate to a purpose-built facility in Ballina and hire another 50 staff, thanks to a $1 million grant provided via the NSW Government’s Regional Job Creation Fund.
Separately, the company has also announced that it will hire Genevieve Camilleri, nominated for an Oscar earlier this year for her work on Love and Monsters, as VFX supervisor.
The expansion plan follows Cumulus VFX receiving Trusted Partner Network (TPN) accreditation earlier this year, expanding its ability to bid on major international films. It is currently working on a number of projects, including Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, a Netflix production out of the UK, and an IMAX documentary.
CEO and founder Will Gammon says hiring people like Camilleri, the new facility, and the TPN security credentials, all form part of a strategic vision to see the company expand the types of projects it works on. Aussie Broadband has also allowed it to boost its data management capabilities via NBN Enterprise Ethernet.
The studio will move from its current site in the Habitat precinct in Byron Bay to the Ballina facility in early April, with plans to grow from its current level of 25 staff to 75 in the next three years.
“The biggest thing that we hope to gain out of this space that we’re building is to create a relaxed environment and culture for our team to work from,” Gammon tells IF.
Among his hopes are to have a computer-free floor, height adjustable desks for every artist, and the best quality monitors and lighting conditions, as well as remote working capability.
Essentially, he hopes to allow artists to have a balanced, creative lifestyle, while also working on major projects. He praises the state government for supporting a regional business to be able to work on an international scale.
“We want it to be essentially the best place to work in VFX in the world, and I say that quite confidently.
“The new premises, which sits on the banks of the river in Ballina, looks straight out over the water. It’s got a nice big yard out the front; we’re going to have veggie gardens and hammocks and outdoor space for the crew to relax in and get away from their monitors when they need to. It’s very quiet; it’s very scenic. It’s in a regional centre, we don’t have the same traffic issues or noise issues that you have in the city. We’re right on the main street of Ballina as well.”
Camilleri will officially join the company in March, leading a team of 40 VFX artists and driving the team’s expansion with new artist hires in 2022.
Her most recent role was VFX supervisor at Fin Design and Effects, and was previously at Mr. X in Adelaide, where she worked on Love and Monsters. Her body of work includes films Peter Rabbit, Doctor Strange, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road.
“This appointment marks a new phase in my career and I am thrilled to be part of Cumulus and welcomed into the Northern Rivers creative community,” she says.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work on some brilliant projects during my career, but the pipeline of projects and expansion opportunities that Cumulus has in its sights, presents a rare chance to be part of a progressive new industry vision – I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Gammon is also the co-founder of Byron Studios, with the new site for Cumulus VFX only 15 minutes away from the proposed studio site at the Tuckombil Quarry in Alstonville.
He notes the “symbiotic relationship” between the two businesses. “Even just being able to manage the large amount of data that are coming out of the film productions that are happening in the studio.”