PK 051: VFX Supervisor Mat McCosker on Why Collaboration is The Key to Creativity

PK 051: VFX Supervisor Mat McCosker on Why Collaboration is The Key to Creativity 2 051 mat mcosker podcast 01

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VFX Supervisor Mat McCosker is a great believer in collaborating with other like-minded artists

The key thing is to find like-minded artists to work with. You have to enjoy their company, and the strength of a community lies in having mutual respect for each other.

You could say VFX supervisor Mat McCosker caught the creative bug early. After all, he was going to life drawing classes aged six and making animations by Year 3.

But, although things have moved on a little from Plasticine models and Super 8 film on reels, one thing remains the same for him: that collaboration is the key to creativity.

So where did it all start for this Sydney-based artist?

He says: “My mom was an art teacher, so I’d often go along to her life drawing classes as a child. However, it was a Year 3 science project that really started the ball rolling.

“Some friends and I decided to make a stop-motion animation about the eyeball for this project using Plasticine and Super 8 film.

“The ‘eyeball’ kept melting under the lights and the film took six weeks to come back from the developers in Melbourne, but by the time we screened our animation to the school, that was it – I’d got the bug!”

But how does a Year 3 student even get started with animation? Wasn’t there a lot to learn first?

“We just dived right in,” laughs Mat. “I’d seen Star Wars, so I knew it was possible to do these things. Plus, there was something mysterious about waiting for the film to be developed – you never knew exactly what you’d end up with!”

And that’s when Mat McCosker learned a key rule of creativity – of not being too precious or being afraid of making mistakes.

He says: “I read a great quote recently from Pixar’s Andrew Stanton that said: ‘Make mistakes, but make them really quickly.’ That’s something I totally agree with.”

Mat McCosker on his Daily Role as a VFX Supervisor

Mat explains: “Although I’ve worked as a compositor on films (creating the final image from layers of previously constructed footage), I mainly work on TV commercials at the moment. The VFX supervisor’s job is to keep the ball rolling for the director, and give the whole VFX team an idea of how the shot should look.

“In TV work, the VFX supervisor is like the voice of the director for the VFX team. It’s your job to make the creative vision come to life and possibly even educate the director if he hasn’t had much VFX experience. But, to be honest, just getting along with people is the most important part of the role.”

And getting along with people is a key element in Mat’s entire art career.

Mat McCosker And His Creative Collective

Mat is also part of a creative collective in Sydney, where between 10 and 12 like-minded creatives (each with their own business identities) share a warehouse space in which to work.

This warehouse is used for photo-shoots, fashion shoots, green screen VFX work, performances, events, and much more.

They even have post-production facilities on-site, giving the collective even greater flexibility when it comes to taking on different projects.

Mat says: “There’s strength in numbers, and being part of a collective means the overheads are kept low. We can still take on bigger jobs, and I’m excited by the prospect of artists from all over the world working remotely with us as freelancers. It’s great to see artists come together collectively!”

So how do you start a creative collective of your own?

Mat thinks it’s really very simple. He says: “The key thing is to find like-minded artists to work with. You have to enjoy their company, and the strength of a community lies in having mutual respect for each other.”

This idea of community is also something that’s informed Mat’s teaching career. Since 2001, he’s looked after the 3D department at the Australian Film and TV School, and he’s also worked with the International Screen Academy – a Sydney-based film school for actors and film-makers.

And his advice for anyone looking to go into a creative career?

“There’s lots of luck involved, but I’d say having an understanding of yourself and your creativity is the most important thing.

“Basically, collaborate as much as you can! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the stuff out there, but the simple act of showing your work to other people reveals a lot about yourself.

“Most schools are fantastic, but the relationships you form with other artists while you’re there are probably more important in the long run than the work you do there.”

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid to just dive right into a project!
  • Why collaboration is the key to creativity
  • How to set up your own creative collective
  • Why building relationships with people is every bit as important as the art you produce

People on this Episode:


Mentioned in the episode:

Mat’s Website:

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