Marvel “wants to make movies in L.A.,” asserted the studio’s executive vp of visual effects and postproduction Victoria Alonso, when asked about the recently passed bill to increase tax incentives for filming in California.
“If the government is ready, we are ready,” she said during her keynote at Saturday’s Visual Effects Society Production Summit at the W Hollywood. “We live here; we want to stay here. We will be happy to commute in the horrendous traffic to be home with our families. … They only have a certain amount money. We will apply.”
During the keynote, Alonso also discussed the “Marvel process,” which she described as “ever flowing” with collaboration, starting with story and visual development. The story “starts with the comics and then ideas for how to make it better for the film medium,” she said.
The scale of the work continues to grow. Alonso is currently executive producing Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man. She anticipates topping 3,000 VFX shots for the Avengers sequel, which would make it Marvel’s largest VFX shot count to date. She previously exec produced Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which maxed out at 2,500, and Guardians on the Galaxy, which reached 2,750.
She told The Hollywood Reporter that the Avengers sequel would likely involve working with seven to 12 VFX vendors in five to seven different countries. Alonso noted during her keynote that working in multiple countries can benefit that process, as those in other countries “sometimes have ideas that we don’t have. That’s what we gain by being global.” But she added that it “hurts me that families are displaced.”
During the conversation, the exec also urged VFX vendors to “strive for honesty” during production. “I have a pretty good nose for BS, and when I find it, it’s going to be a bad conversation,” she warned. “Sometimes, vendors cover their butts too much. I don’t want to hear the excuses. If you don’t have enough rendering power, just tell me. There’s no issue that we can’t fix together. Vendors are partners to me. I want to have open communication. The minute there are excuses and lies, it’s over.”
Alonso also advised individuals in the business to “fill the gap; don’t let your ego get in the way. [The Marvel process] is mostly that we forget who we are and focus on the story. Go track, go rig, the journey will get you there.”
She also urged the community to hire more women. “There’s a lot of you boys out there. Where are the girls?” she asked. “You need to get them here. It’s better when it’s 50/50. It’s okay to allow the ladies in; they are talented and bring you balance. We are better as a team if you have balance.”
On the technical front, Marvel has already used immersive sound on numerous films, and Alonso told THR that the studio is also looking at emerging technological capabilities such as high dynamic range. But she admitted that Marvel “likely won’t be the first out of the gate.”
“We are looking for proven systems,” she said. “Are we going to have theaters that can handle these capabilities … or are we doing it for 10 theaters worldwide?”