Following on from the recent news that Mercury FX are to close, VFX legends The Mill have announced their withdrawal from the TV market, citing a lack of a new Doctor Who commission among their reasons.
The planned closure will result in the loss of 25 jobs including Mill TV’s managing director and executive producer Will Cohen as the unit switches focus away from drama such as Doctor Who and Merlin towards advertising.
The Mill CEO Robin Shenfield:
“While TV vfx have been less volatile than film – last year the US studios spent far less than they did in 2011– TV also seems to have caught the bug and there have been less of those high end commissions and repeat series. We have reluctantly decided that this is a business we do not want to play in any more, although I am immensely proud of what we have achieved.”
On the matter of redundancies, Shenfield said:
“We hope we will be able to re-deploy a number of those people elsewhere in the group and are looking very hard at that.”
The most interesting quote is possible Shenfield’s observation that The Mill is not “negative about film and TV vfx in the UK. I think the work will return in both film and TV. We are just at a point of haitus.” Given other closures in the industry, there is plenty of cause to be negative. Televisual reports that along with Mill TV and Mercury FX’s closure, MPC, Framestore and Double Negative have downsized recently.
Framestore CEO William Sargent has painted a negative picture of the industry.
“We have seven pictures booked over the next 15 months in New York, London and Montreal, but even when supply of VFX work comes back, the demand is going to remain ‘lumpy’ – we have to do more work over a shorter period of time which means taking on more staff for shorter periods. I don’t’ feel that situation is going to go away.”
Bad news all round, we feel.