Discover how Dave Sadler-Coppard went from animation student to VFX Supervisor before he turned 25.
How did you come to join Outpost VFX?
I studied animation at university for three years and I ended up applying for the BFX competition in Bournemouth with three other people. We sort of ran out of things to do at the end of university – there weren’t really many jobs, we didn’t really have anything else to do with our summer, so we just decided to go for it and see what happened.
We did quite a nice short film and then I ended up meeting Duncan in the pub afterwards where we celebrated the films, and he said, ‘do you want a job?’ pretty much. He said, ‘we have some After Effects animation that needs to be done now and we’re in Bournemouth, so you don’t need to go anywhere’ and I said yes. That was it, I was away.
What size was the company when you started?
I believe I joined when there were eight or nine people, so pretty small. I worked in the cottage, I was one of the first in there.
What was the first big project you tackled?
What really gave me insight into how visual effects worked was a series of jobs that we did for More Than insurance. It wasn’t really a big job but it was one of those jobs that I sort of creatively led by myself with a couple of other people here and there helping me. We did five adverts for them over the course of a couple of years. It was pretty stressful at times because it was extremely demanding, but it really gave me good insight into how the industry is run, and helped me to prepare for working with tricky clients and to tight deadlines. That was my first taste of how this industry works.
iBoy is where you really made a name for yourself. How did you end up as VFX Supervisor?
The director came down to go through some concept work for the day and I was running around on 47 Meters Down at the time. Duncan was with the director as I walked past and he kind of collared me and went ‘Dave! Do you want to supervise iBoy?’ so I said ‘yeah that sounds good’. This meant on-set supervision, running the creative, working with client feedback and all that stuff, and I got to manage the whole project by myself which was a lot of fun. I’m really glad I did it.
Do you think it’s important that artists step up and demonstrate leadership qualities?
I think so, it really does open the door to many more things in your career. For me it’s not just about sitting behind a desk – that’s fun, but this path means going out to meet clients, helping to bring business in and see the on-set side of the industry. I find it immensely rewarding – it is tough, it’s hard work to get into that, but I think it’s worth it and it opens the door to many things down the line.
And you were only 24 at the time, weren’t you?
I was 24. It was very young but I’m still doing it now and it was definitely worth it.
It sounds like you’ve developed a good reputation as well.
Yeah, Wigwam wants to work with me again in the future so that’s great. I get to develop my skills, but Outpost gets to develop from these relationships as well.
What is it about Outpost VFX that fulfils you the most?
There have been times when Outpost has been stressful, but it’s been immensely rewarding and immensely fun so I guess that’s the sign of a good job when it tests you like that. It’s a great environment – it’s open and flexible. I don’t like overly strict rules as I can’t be creative in those circumstances. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing right now and I’m really, really happy – like I said, it tests you but it’s so rewarding.
Are you excited about the future of the company and where it’s going?
Yeah, we’re taking on a lot of big projects and big ideas; it’s very different to how it was when we all started out in the cottage with just eight of us. I think Outpost is turning into a sort of new company if you like – it’s changing but we still want to keep that openness and that creative atmosphere. I think that’s important, and the bigger we get the more work we get, which is good. The hard work we all put in at the beginning is paying off now so I’m happy about that. If I get to do more supervising stuff then great! It’s going in a good direction.
What would you look for in someone who wants to join our team?
The juniors that come here that I work with best are the people that are friendly and open, they’re enthusiastic, they don’t give you reasons why they can’t do things they just try and figure it out, which is the best attitude to work with. Even if the work isn’t quite up to scratch they still have that attitude, which is really important. How they approach problems is quite important, as well as open-mindedness, friendliness and a good attitude.