INSIDE Flipbook is our web series promoting the talented individuals that make the studio so great. From artists to producers, every member of the team brings a unique personality and skillset.
In this edition, we spoke with Flipbook Studio’s Head of TV & Film, David Cordon.
Since starting your career after university, you’ve taken a slightly unconventional route into VFX. Can you explain your route into the industry and how you became passionate about it?
Well, the truth is I started my career a long time before I went to complete my education. I started working at the age of 16, when I left my mum’s home to explore the world. I finished my studies in 2008, I was 26 then, and I managed to work for a while in a lab with a brilliant team, performing organoleptic analysis for over 150 vineyards in Spain as well as cloning spirits. It was an exciting job. But then the recession hit Spain, with science getting the hardest blow.
I packed my things and went to live in Ghana indefinitely, where I was teaching science and sports in a rural village called Tafo. I still think of it as one of the best decisions I have ever made, for all I’ve learned from it changed me and shaped me into who I am today.
When I returned from Ghana, I got involved with music, music took me into video (shorts, promos, features), and one day somehow, out of the blue, I was having an interview with one of the biggest studios in the industry to be part of one of the most iconic shows ever done.
The truth is, I never planned for VFX to be a career path for me, it happened by accident. But ultimately, I fell in love with the industry, and here I am.
What interested you in joining Flipbook Studio, and how have you found your experience so far?
I have worked for a few studios since I started. Every time I embarked into a new adventure, it was never the company that attracted me, it was always the person who was hiring me for a specific project and the vision that this person had for the role and myself inside the company. I am a person who needs challenges and constant stimulation. I love learning and evolving, and it’s an integral part of who I am. So, when I met Andrew and he told me about him and Ben, about their past and what their ambitions for the future were, I was in.
My experience so far has been absolutely great. I’m learning a lot about the industry, and from a point of view that I hadn’t seen before. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with companies, like NextGen and Speakers for School, that are doing fantastic things, helping people who don’t have direct access to the industry. But one of the most exciting things about the job is the potential I have to contribute to the shaping of the studio as a whole, which is beyond satisfying. But it’s early days, and there’s still a lot more work ahead of me. The way I see it, this is where my actual career in the industry starts.
What’s a typical day like as Head of TV & Film?
Well, this is the best part. There is no such thing as a “typical day” in my routine. Every day is quite different from another, and I love that.
Because we are a small facility, my role, as well as the role of other colleagues inside the company like Andrew, Ben or Jo, is slightly more dynamic – it covers a wider spectrum and it has an extra element of freedom and self-judgement.
I am responsible for leading the expansion of our TV and film division, which means targeting potential strategic signing, looking after business development, finding ways for Flipbook to contribute to the industry, finding ways for strengthening the presence of companies outside London in the industry through collaborations and making sure our growth strategy is sustainable and responsible. So, you throw all these ingredients in a bowl and you’ll get a different salad each day.
What are your thoughts on the future of TV in 2021? Will virtual production take off as a widespread solution?
It was a tough year last year, not only in our industry but for humanity as a whole. We all felt vulnerable and a lot of us have faced uncertainty and insecurity in ways we have not done before, so I think 2021 will serve us all to look at things very differently at many levels.
The future of TV is an active ongoing transformation and it’s truly an inspiring and very exciting time to be working in the industry. I remember attending BAFTA talks a couple of years ago and hearing a lot of producers talking about transitioning from film into TV and how digital platforms would start ruling the industry. I hope the future of TV continues to bring in more and more diverse and inclusive content, and that it provides inspiration, heroes and role models to new generations all across the globe.
Virtual production is certainly a game-changer. I think “taking off as a widespread solution” will depend on how quickly and effectively its technology evolves. It’s a brilliant directing tool that provides directors with an unprecedented level of flexibility and creativity to fulfil their vision, particularly during the visualisation of the scene beforehand. However, when capturing real-time projects using LED, I still feel the current technology has some way to go, especially since there will still be a considerable degree of post-work required that increases the overall cost. To become a widespread solution it will need to become affordable to smaller productions, which I am sure will happen sooner than later.
Do you have a favourite Flipbook Studio project?
There are quite a few Flipbook projects I like. It will be difficult to stick to only one because we do a lot of innovative projects for games and advertising that are unconventional and beautiful in their own ways.
I really liked what we did for the Harrison Spink advert, particularly because we did the shooting too, and it’s just cute. I liked the Bleeding Edge trailer because it meant pretty much doing a short film using Unreal Engine, and the final result was spectacular. And I liked what we did for the All-Stars NHL tournament ‘Reebok Stars Shine Brighter’ because it was cleverly designed using groundbreaking technology that, at the time, hadn’t been used in that way before. So, a lot to choose from.
Where do you see the future for Flipbook Studio?
Right where it is, in Manchester!
For me, it’s important to remember that the only reason we are able to think of a future and talk of an expansion is that we have an excellent history – there are a lot of things we’ve been doing well as a company, and we will need to keep doing them while searching for ways to do them even better.
My personal ambition is to take our 40 capacity studio and bring it to a 200 capacity in a period of 3-5 years, with everything that is involved. We will still very much identify ourselves as a multi-disciplinary VFX boutique, but with a heavier presence in TV & Film.