Interview - Shilo


creative production company

Shilo Contacts
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Mid West and West Coast: and
Tell us a bit about yourself…
Shilo is a creative production company representing a group of filmmakers led by directors Jose Gomez and Andre Stringer. We create original and commissioned work with deeply held passions for design-infused storytelling and innovative application of live-action, design, and animation. We have studios in New York and La Jolla, California, where we have the capacity and experience to originate ideas and handle all aspects of production. 

What programs/ plugins/ scripts do you use? 
We use all the standard fare: photoshop, illustrator, after effects, maya, 3d studio max, final cut pro. It's a whole slew of plugins and effects, but we aren't limited to those tools. It's a case by case basis by which we see what fits to get the job done. The magic of the execution comes from constant conversation from our creative team, a process involving intense scrutiny and critiques.

The MTV Burma project received a lot of attention and you won the 2008 London International Awards Gold Statue for Television/Cinema Animation for it. Can you give us an insight on the process, the goals of the project and the difficult parts?
We joined forces with an amazing group of people to create this viral PSA. The original purpose of this film was to raise awareness of the Burmese people's ongoing peaceful protests against their military government's notorious human rights violations. When Cyclone Nargus hit, causing untold loss of life and devastation across the country, we immediately altered the spot to address the immediate need for aid. We hoped to compel the global community to act in the face of this tragedy.

An important goal for each of us, in every project we take on, is getting people to think. With this piece, it is not just a provocation but a call to action.  

Your “AT&T: Piano” clip has a great feedback. What were the challenges on this project? 
This project allowed us to create something that was primarily live action and did not involve CG or VFX.  We love projects like that!

You work with a lot of big advertising agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, Draft/FCB and Ogilvy. Do you find it difficult to work on “somebody else’s vision”?
It might sound cliche but the work that we do is collaborative in the most earnest and honest sense of the word. The agencies come to us with very good ideas and it starts off in a great place. Their ideas are a springboard by which we can jump forth and bring further and further to be the best end product. At the heart, that's the way we see the power of advertising, it's a collaborative process. It has its own challenges but it comes with talent that you have the opportunity to work with and ultimately make something very impactful and something you love. It's a collaboration, evolution and partnership.

What was the most difficult part in the Under Armour, Inc. project?
Luckily with Under Armour, we have a fantastic cooperative relationship. They have a talented in-house agency that we work with intimately. We've established an understanding of their brand and work very collaboratively to push the boundaries of their current audience. But, in regards to difficulty of the project, we always have ambitious goals for these spots. When we shot the live action for the Lindsey Vonn spot, we wanted to get the most effective imagery to tell her story. She is an extremely talented athlete and we wanted the storyline and execution to rise to her level of epic achievement. This spot is almost fantastic with the "cold abuse simulator." We wanted to tell an interpretive story. The challenge was crafting the live-action and CG so that it had a stylized realism that was believable. 
Do you recognize differences between VFX artists, in terms of style? How does your style compare to the best you’ve seen? 
We don't really see ourselves as VFX artists but more as directors with a strong sense of visual style. We collaborate with VFX artists who can harness and hone the authenticity. We do see a wide range of style and were always looking for things that are most visually striking and unique, stuff that really marks our work in the past. We're not concerned with one medium or another, we use them all as brushes of talent.

Which effect do you believe was the most difficult to achieve? (How did you do it?)
The most difficult effect to achieve is absolute awe. We want to stir emotions, tell the intangible tellings of a story, and essentially capture and bottle the magic. It's the intangible quality of a story that makes it great and that's what we strive in doing in all of our projects. 

What is the typical starting point in a VFX project? How long does it usually take?
The starting point in a VFX project is generating ideas. Next is including a script, flushing out the script, doing a treatment and than going into production. Production involves many many layers of storyboarding, previz, motion tests, editorial, rendering, compositing. We have intense critiques with ourselves and our clients at every stage. The entire process can take 2 weeks to 10 years, depending on what we're making.
What’s the one project that you received the most praise for?
Our earliest praise came from the Emmy award-winning main title for Huff, but more recently our drastically different spots like Guinness, Mercenaries II (a video game spot), AT&T and Scion have received a lot of attention for Shilo.

Do you think computer graphics changed visual advertisement and consumer behaviour?
Over the years, the overarching element of technology, like computer graphics, has evolved a more sophisticated audience and the audience itself has evolved more sophisticated computer graphics. It is a cyclical effect. 
What are your company goals?
Keep making better work and telling better stories.
With the market becoming more and more competitive, what do you believe is a must that an artist has in his portfolio or skills?
Good ideas. You gotta bring something to the table that'll make people think.

What is your favourite movie/ commercial?
Ridley Scott's 1984 Apple Macintosh commercial. Its a classic. 

What do you have up your sleeve for future projects?
Things happen more organically at Shilo, we never know what's around the next corner but we always strive to tell better stories every year.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to specialize in special effects?
Persistance, tenacity, and working your ass off. Try try try, and don't give up.