14 June 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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IFTA Q&A Series: Kev Cahill on VFX
17 Apr 2024 : Luke Shanahan
Kev Cahill
To mark the 21st anniversary of the IFTA awards, we are showcasing Irish talent who are blazing a trail across our industry, working in front of and behind the camera.

Hosted in association with IFTA, this Q&A Series connects with Irish talent who represent a range of disciplines across our industry.

We find out about their approach to craft, working on the projects they’ve been nominated for, and the best piece of advice they’ve been given in their career.

Kev Cahill and Ben Snow are IFTA-nominated for Best VFX for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Cahill’s has previously won an IFTA for Best VFX for The Green Knight. His most recent VFX credits include Kneecap and Foundation. Cahill is also a writer-director with two shorts, More Than God and The Nation Holds Its Breath.

IFTN: How did you first get into VFX professionally?

KEV: “My first exposure to VFX was on the set of Yogi Bear in New Zealand. I was working in Locations at the time. I was fascinated by these weirdos running around with shiny chrome balls, fancy lasers and yogi bear ‘pelts’. I was working with the incredible location manager Niall O'Shea at the time. I asked Niall ‘What are those guys doing?’. Niall told me to shut up and get back to work, which obviously made me more curious. When I got back to Ireland I started applying for jobs in VFX. I worked on Primeval for a few weeks, then Camelot in Ardmore. Following that I travelled to Canada and after a brief stint as a trombone player I got a job on Total Recall.”

IFTN: What have you learned through your experiences that would be of use to aspiring VFX artists?

KEV: “Learn by doing. Try to figure out each step of the process because every part impacts the next. It's often the case that issues faced in the final composite could be fixed with a better approach to how the shot was captured.”

IFTN: Is there one thing about your craft that you would like the public to be more aware of?

KEV: “The art of VFX is combining images to create an illusion, the basics of that hasn't changed since the first shots by Méliès in the 1890s.”

“Technology allows us quicker slicker solutions but using the most up to date technology doesn't always get the best results. It sounds cliché but it really is about finding the style of image that suits the story. VFX can't fix a bad story, but people are becoming more and more aware of that.”

IFTN: Are there any recent films that have really impressed you with their VFX?

KEV: “I thought The Creator did an amazing job. The narrative around it is that they did it with very little spend on VFX which I think is a dangerous narrative. The truth is most of their saving was in how they shot it. It was good planning and execution from start to finish that saved them money, not just cutting down on VFX spend.”

IFTN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

KEV: “At one point I had an offer to work as a junior member of the team on Force Awakens or be the VFX supervisor on a tiny horror film in India. I was working with the legendary Ken Ralston at the time and Ken told me ‘Do the horror, there'll always be a big movie that needs a team member’.”

Bloomsday Film Fest: Director Martin Turk and Line Producer Jeremiah Cullinane discuss Kino Volta
Actors Hannah and Emily Dargan discuss The Watched
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