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Visual effects giant Framestore — whose latest work can be seen in Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — has promoted COO Mel Sullivan to CEO, with founding partner and CEO of 26 years William Sargent stepping into a new role as chairman of the Framestore and Company 3 group.
Framestore, the London-headquartered visual effects house whose work on Gravity and Blade Runner 2049 won VFX Oscars, has experienced rapid growth since its acquisition of postproduction giant Company 3, VFX business Method Studios and their sister companies in November of 2020.
As 2022 began, Framestore completed the merging of Method’s feature and TV VFX business into its Framestore VFX business, which now has eight offices across four continents and a headcount of nearly 3,000 artists, producers and technologists. Its recent and upcoming credits include VFX work on aforementioned Madness, along with The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan & Wendy, Wonka and episodic work such as His Dark Materials, Moon Knight, and the upcoming season of The Crown. (The former Method completed VFX work on Top Gun: Maverick.)
With Sullivan’s promotion, global managing director of film Fiona Walkinshaw has been given the newly created role of CEO of film and episodic, while Charles Howell, who was leading the New York office, will serve as president of global advertising and content.
Sullivan began her career in finance and corporate brokerage, before joining Framestore in 1998 when the VFX company was under one roof in London with 150 employees. “We are going to continue to do what is at the heart of our success — work on the most challenging and ambitious creative projects and continue to push boundaries of what new technology can achieve,” she says, noting that this includes refining virtual production pipelines.
She also emphasizes Framestore’s focus on diversity. “We worked hard on our apprenticeships [and] we are committed to trying to increase diversity in the company and the industry as a whole. I think it’s important to see that in terms of leadership. They should be inclusive and relatable.”
Sullivan describes the company as having a “unique mixture of creativity, collaboration and boldness of vision — it sets our work apart and it sets our people apart, and it’s something we’ve been keen to hold onto throughout the integration of studios in Montreal, Vancouver and Melbourne, the growth of our Mumbai studio and the strides we’re making in fields like real-time, machine learning and virtual production.”
In his role, Sargent will focus on identifying new opportunities for Framestore and Company 3, as well as providing support to Framestore’s senior management team, which includes new group CFO Claire Price who joins the team on July 1.
“Framestore has grown and evolved in startling ways since we started the company with five people and a big idea,” says Sargent. “From ad spots and pop promos for David Bowie and Madonna we’ve moved into blockbuster franchises, tentpole episodic productions and landmark theme park installations. In less than five years the company has doubled in size and expanded into three new territories, so it definitely feels like Mel is taking the reins at another pivotal stage of the company’s evolutionary growth. I have absolutely no doubt that under her stewardship we will see the company continue its ambitious trajectory.”
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