Category Archives: VFX Artists

Sought After Film Editor Andres Vergara Lends His Talents to “Stray Dog”

Andres Vergara
Film editor and VFX artist Andres Vergara

Over the past few years Andres Vergara has worked as an editor and VFX artist on some of the biggest films alongside some of the industry’s biggest names.

A citizen of both Canada and Mexico, Vergara moved to Vancouver in his youth to pursue his career as an editor and visual effects artist in the film industry. Today he has edited and produced visual effects for films featuring Academy Award winners Denzel Washington (Safehouse), Liam Neeson (Battleship) and Mickey Rourke (Immortals).

As a VFX artist, Vergara has also been tapped to lend his expertise to blockbuster titles such as Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and the 2011 prequel/reboot of John Carpenter’s classic sci-fi/horror masterpiece The Thing.

Although Vergara has clearly become a sought after talent for big budget feature films, his latest project, Stray Dog, took him back to the format that originally established his presence in the industry – documentary film.

Stray Dog is a “portrait of the life” of Vietnam veteran Ron “Stray Dog Hall, and was recently shown at the New York Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. The film won Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards as well.

“The documentary makes a strong social commentary on America, and modern society, without the need to explain or narrate things to viewers,” Vergara said. “Rather, the film lets audiences draw their own conclusions about the events and gives viewers a unique opportunity to find their own angle on it.”

Vergara worked hand-in-hand with Stray Dog director Debra Granik to select shots, edit sequences and classify scenes from the hours of footage shot in Branson, Missouri and Mexico City.

“Granik was very clear on what she was trying to find, and she communicated her vision and ideas in a way that was profound enough for me to understand the core idea of the documentary,” Vergara said.

For Vergara, editing has been an especially gratifying experience.

“To me, the privilege of being the first viewer of a project, while also making substantial decisions with the director on which scenes have to stay or go, is a hugely rewarding process to be a part of,” Vergara said.

But the talented editor hasn’t married himself to a single genre. Instead, he’s fluidly moved between non-fiction (documentary) and fiction throughout his career, which has allowed him to diversify his talents and excel far beyond those who play it safe and remain in the same genre.

“My experience in both genre’s has constantly proven to me that there is a big reward, and competitive edge, to know the rules of both games, which has lead me to exciting projects and opportunities,” Vergara said.

One of those exciting projects was the gritty, action-packed film Safehouse. Directed by multi-award winning director Daniel Espinosa who is known for the films Easy Money and Child 44 (Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace), Safehouse was set in Cape Town, South Africa, and starred two-time Oscar Award winner Denzel Washington (American Gangster, The Book of Eli, Training Day) and Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Smokin’ Aces).

As a lead VFX artist for Safehouse, Vergara seamlessly added a full crowd of people into a partially empty South African soccer stadium. He used real footage instead of CGI, which added a level of excitement and a layer of realism to the sequence that CGI could not have accomplished in such a seamless manner.

Vergara also worked as a lead VFX artist on the CGI-heavy blockbuster film Immortals. Based on Greek-mythology, Immortals was directed by iconic Indian director Tarsem Singh (The Cell, Mirror Mirror, The Fall) and starred Academy Award winner Mickey Rourke and Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Stardust).

Shot almost entirely on green screen, Immortals took full advantage of Vergara’s talents as a VFX artist to achieve the overall stunning look audiences experienced on the screen.

But Vergara’s favorite project so far has been Stray Dog.

“The narrative of the film was structured unlike few, if any, other documentaries ever done,” Vergara said.

Andres Vergara’s refined talents as an editor and VFX artist promise to keep him successfully working in the industry for years to come; and, thanks to his ability to handle diverse projects with ease, his career will continue to be one that is assuredly dynamic in scope.

Making It Reel!  

          ImageThe true mark of a movie’s success is making its audience forget that they’re watching a movie. As we’re brought back in time to say World War II, or to outer space, for a span of time in a theater or a living room we’re supposed to forget about everything else. That is dependent on the kind of visual effects in the movie. And that is where Nikola Todorovic comes in.

  Originally from Serbia, Mr. Todorovic grew up working in his Uncle’s video-rental store in the summers, which ignited his passion for film. Once Nikola arrived in Hollywood, he quickly found work as a visual effects artist, impressing and dazzling his coworkers with his talent.

 For his work on the upcoming film Little Boy, which stars Academy Award nominees Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson, Nikolai was tasked with helping create visual effects that would illuminate the journey of the main character, a 12 year old boy, as he undertakes the seemingly impossible task of bringing his father back from the Second World War.

One of Nikola’s most important tasks, for four final shots in the film, was to recreate a sunset that would take your breath away. Nikola rose to the occasion, and then some, by creating over thirty-five different possible shots for the director to choose from. The film’s producer was so impressed he believed that without Nikola’s work the film would not have been believable.

For the film When Kings Battle, Nikola supervised the filming when it was done with green screens, and then in post-production he was able to recreate a world that transported the movie’s audience to the ancient ages. The film is about an emperor who becomes obsessed with a woman who already has a husband, and it nearly brings his empire to ruin. The film was honored with an array of awards, and had its premiere at the historical Grauman Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The film’s director, John Bucher, was so taken by Nikola’s work he plans to work with him on all of his future projects. Nikola’s work on the film was so incredible that he gained the respect of the Hollyshorts Festival, whose organizers invited him back as a jury member for the festival’s future editions.

Movies are an escape, especially the kinds of movies that bring you to a different time – whether it’s in the past, or in the future. But the success of these movies almost completely depends on their visual effects, and Nikola Todorovic is the guy whose shoulders you want to be leaning on if you’re making a movie about World War Two, ancient Egypt or any other subject intended to transport the audience.