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As the VFX industry awaits the results of Rhythm & Hues’ bankruptcy auction — where parties met until 2 a.m. PDT and a decision was expected this morning — London-headquartered The Mill revealed that it plans to close its TV visual effects unit, with a possible loss of 25 jobs.
The Mill CEO Robin Shenfield said in a statement that Mill TV — whose credits include Doctor Who, Merlin and Sherlock for the BBC — has weathered losses in 2012 and that red ink has accelerated in the first quarter of 2013. The facility will continue to focus on its commercial business in the U.S. and U.K.
According to the statement, “Mill TV has suffered a number of setbacks such as failing to join the roster on Starz/BBC production of DaVinci’s Demons and the cancellation of Sky’s Sinbad sequel. Going forward, broadcasters are commissioning less high-end VFX driven drama series this year, with Merlin discontinued and the BBC not commissioning a Doctor Who series this year.”
“I’m not feeling negative about film and TV VFX in the U.K. I think the work will return in both film and TV. We are just at a point of hiatus,” Shenfield said in the statement. “While TV VFX has been less volatile than film — last year the U.S. studios spent far less than they did in 2011 — TV also seems to have caught the bug, and there have been less of those high-end commissions and repeat series.
“We have reluctantly decided that this is a business we do not want to play in any more, although I am immensely proud of what we have achieved and we hope we will be able to redeploy a number of those people elsewhere in the group and are looking very hard at that.”
The Mill is planning to close the Mill TV unit at the end of April following a consultation period. The move will see the departure of senior staffers such as Mill TV’s managing director and executive producer Will Cohen.
The division has produced visual effects for television projects including Elizabeth and Longford for the U.K.’s Channel 4. It also supported some recent feature work that included the Oscar nominee Snow White and the Huntsman.
The Mill — which also maintains bases in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York — has been providing visual effects and postproduction for more than 20 years. Services include design, animation, digital content creation, versioning and distribution.
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Tracee Ellis Ross