Many of the entertainment blockbusters of the modern era share a secret ingredient.
From the ground-breaking de-ageing effects of The Irishman to Marvel's Black Widow, via the unique and iconic look of WandaVision, a post house based in Dublin has been pulling in the attention of some of entertainment’s most revered directors and studios. Often quietly going about its business since 1985, the past 36 years have witnessed Screen Scene evolve into a world class post-production powerhouse. With dedicated teams in Picture & Sound for Commercials, Broadcast, Film & Drama & VFX (SSVFX), the Screen Scene group caters for all aspects of the media industry.
“We have always put creativity first, and 30 years in the commercials game has given us the creative tools to expand our horizons into the film and drama medium”, says Screen Scene’s managing director, Jake Walshe. “When we launched our dedicated VFX department - SSVFX - this enabled us to speak to an international audience and show them what we were capable of”.
Happily for the company, Screen Scene’s work is currently being put in front of an awful lot of eyeballs. Reflecting on the studio’s meteoric rise, creative director Hubert Montag highlights the importance of the studio’s work on Netflix’s The Irishman - Martin Scorsese’s epic crime drama starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino - which drew international plaudits.
“I think our VFX journey began on the very first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones”, notes Hubert. “That was the catalyst for a lot of what followed, and you can probably trace the thread from that to our work on The Irishman.”
Above: The de-ageing VFX in The Irishman is widely regarded as best-in-class, and saw the film nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 2020 Oscars.
Building off the success of projects like The Irishman, SSVFX have built up an enviable reel of feature work on the silver screen and streaming platforms alike.
The studio has had a hand in box-office big hitters such as Captain Marvel and Disney’s Cruella, Respect (the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic from MGM), alongside Netflix’s Shadow and Bone and HBO’s the Nevers, Sean Penn’s upcoming feature drama Flag Day, black comedy hit The Favourite, and many others. It’s fair to say, then, that Screen Scene has been on a roll for some time - and there’s little sign of slowing down.
In a symbol of the studio’s fast-moving success, SSSVFX has set up shop in two new locations in the past year - LA and London. “We’re finding that all aspects of post-production are in high demand at the moment, because of a pent-up production process that has accrued over the course of the pandemic”, says Jake. “We have developed a seamless remote workflow which has enabled us to work with international clients across VFX, Commercials, Film & Drama”.
Above: Screen Scene provided state-of-the-art VFX for Disney Plus’s wildly successful WandaVision.
Another example of Screen Scene’s momentum is the recent installation of an Atmos stage for sound mixing at the company’s Dublin HQ. “It’s taking us to another level in sound design, and the kind of work we are able to create”, says Jake. “And it doesn’t just have to be limited to longer form content. Our view is that there’s an emerging space for that kind of creative soundscape in branded content, as well”.
Happily, the company’s world-class pedigree in VFX and sound design isn't just reserved for Hollywood directors - they have also been racking up work and accolades in the commercial space. The studio’s sound designer Will Farrell, for example, was integral to the success of the Cannes Grand Prix-winning campaign JFK Unsilenced. The campaign took the world by storm in 2019 when the agency used AI to recreate the speech JFK would have made if he had not been assassinated.
“I think what’s exciting for us looking forward”, says Hubert, “is that the demand for cinematic, world class VFX and sound in commercials is only growing. I think the level of quality people expect from commercials now is high enough that there’s absolutely a place for bringing in that cinematic flair”.
That reputation for quality can be seen through campaigns such as the now-iconic Christmas at Woodie’s at Christmas - a film made in Dublin which went viral far beyond Ireland’s borders. The company’s love of craft also shines through a series of spots from last year for the Irish National Lottery, in which we see a humble lottery ticket artfully transform into a series of vibrant and exocit origami sets.
Above: Screen Scene and Rothco’s heartwarming spot for DIY and homeware chain Woodie’s proved popular with international audiences last Christmas
There’s plenty about Screen Scene that subverts expectations. You might not expect a post house which retains a boutique feel to be behind Oscar nominees and Marvel box office smashes. You might also be surprised to find such a company has its HQ nestled in Dublin. But times, and expectations, are changing.
“One thing that 30 years of experience will give you is perspective”, says Jake. “The pandemic has made the world a smaller place and technology has helped bridge that gap, beyond that as a collective we’re excited about the collaborations and doors that can open for us in the future.”