Amanda, you recently became Managing Partner of UNIT, how did that come about?
My first experience with UNIT was as a client through an animation production company I founded called Luma. We had an excellent experience with UNIT and started working with them more and more closely. Eventually Adam made me an offer for the company and Luma became their animation arm. That was a roaring success and I think he wanted to replicate that across the whole company.
You’ve been in the industry quite a while, what have been your favourite moments?
Gosh yes it’s almost 30 years! There have been loads; from sitting with Piers Brosnan and Dame Judy Dench in Pinewood trying to 3D scan Richard Carlisle’s head for James Bond: The World Is Not Enough, to being cooped up in a transit van with Oasis watching rushes and wondering how on earth we were going to make dozens of CG helicopters and even getting management advice from Richard Branson. Having said that, this is probably one of the most exciting challenges I have ever had. UNIT is quite a big company – 70 plus people and they are a great bunch. Forging the company ahead and seeing just how far we can push the boundaries is going to be a real challenge and one that I’m really looking forward to.
There must have been lots of opportunities for someone with your skill set and experience, why UNIT?
There were a few other offers on the table but there were three reasons that really swung it for me. First, UNIT is an independent company, it’s not owned by a bank or a big corporation. I honestly feel that for a company to really flourish creatively it has to be independent. We don’t have to worry about red tape or what the parent company in some far off boardroom thinks, if we think it a good idea we just do it. Too many good creative companies have been swallowed up by corporations that try to change them or turn them into cash cows. Second, the fact that all the creative disciplines are under one roof makes us a candy store for creatives – it’s just a great way of working. Lastly and most importantly the people, I’ve never worked with such a great bunch of creative and passionate people. I love working with them.
You touched on the fact that UNIT is unique in that it is a facility that accommodates Audio, Grade and VFX under one roof… Why do you think this model works so well?
Quite simply, with all creative disciplines housed under one roof, it makes for a very cohesive way of working. So right at the very beginning everyone can sit round the table; VFX, Sound, Grade, Design alongside the production team and client and work on some great ideas and creative solutions.
It also allows for a faster way of working. We are all on one network and all our departments can work in real time alongside one another. With challenging deadlines these days, this expedites the creative process and facilitates fewer mistakes and opportunities for projects to go off-piste.
Finally and extremely importantly it is all about the Creative itself. We can all work in tandem and in unison to deliver the best creative by fine-tuning the project as a single creative entity.
UNIT has really evolved over the last few years and is it now a credible post-production contender for some of the biggest VFX projects, why do you think that is?
UNIT is probably one of the ‘Best Kept Secret Success’ stories. We have a very lean management structure, just Adam and I at the top. Of course we have very strong line managers in each department but we prefer to spend our cash on the talent. What Adam (our CEO) has achieved with UNIT in a very short space of time given the huge competition and a recession to boot, is quite frankly a remarkable testament to him. Under Adam’s careful financial management and continued reinvestment in constant kit renewal, the business has undergone impressive growth and creative momentum. Adam’s drive and determination, strategic planning and superb level of attention to detail when researching the market and making the right hires, has taken UNIT to this next level of its evolution.
I love the fact UNIT takes on the big guys and wins. Most of our pitches are against the big three and we win most of the time. Quite frankly I am super proud to be a part of UNIT. The talent in the place is remarkable and I want to shout about them from the rooftops and show them off in all their glory.
Where do you want to take UNIT?
I want UNIT to challenge the boundaries creatively. I don’t want to be the biggest but I do want to be the best. What I really love hearing is the clients and the competitors saying “how the hell did they do that!”. That means challenging the VFX norms but also operating in that grey area between technology and creative: Experiential, VR, gaming etc. We have some very exciting ideas and opportunities at the moment that we are keen to capitalise on. It’s the bit of the industry that is the most exhilarating at the moment.
What exciting things do you have in store for UNIT that you can share with us?
We are currently in growth mode so we are hiring at the moment and are focusing on high-end creative talent. We are looking for the best creative and production individuals that share our passion, commitment and love for the industry.
We are also working on building our own proprietary software system for our studio that will be unique to UNIT and enable us to deal with workflow and rendering issues faster. And to top it all, we are working on something very big and exciting at the moment but we can’t talk about it until next month – so watch this space.
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