/News 15.04.21


MR. X Adelaide’s new Head of Production Thandiwe Philips chats about her experience in the industry and what sets Australia apart in the global VFX market.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background in VFX?

My name is Thandiwe, which is a more common name in Zimbabwe, where I was born, than in Australia where I was raised. I come from an artist background myself, having completed a Masters in Digital Media (3D Modeling and Animation) from UNSW in Sydney. However, my passion is for production, so I started in the industry ten years ago as a production assistant and worked my way up from there.

What are some of your most memorable projects and why?

Every show I’ve worked on has brought with it new knowledge and valuable relationships, however the one which has been the most formative was probably Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), on which I had in-house clients and oversaw 2200 shots completing across 6x facilities globally. Through that show I forged lasting bonds with my client and internal production teams (we still maintain a WhatsApp group to this day to remain in touch!), learned a great deal, and earned my first VFX Producer credit.

What excites you about working in VFX and in your current role as Head of Production at MR. X?

The agility of VFX is something I find invigorating – no two shows are alike, no two facilities are the same, and we constantly have to break and remake our pipeline. Every day has something new to offer so I’m constantly learning. However my favourite aspect of VFX, and the reason I gravitated towards production in particular, is that the net result at the end is always greater than the sum of its parts. In my role as Head of Production with MR. X I have the opportunity to expand my scope of view to encompass the full body of work passing through our facility and see it grow, morph, evolve into something unique to each storytellers vision. It’s an exciting time and place to be.

Thandiwe Philips. Image courtesy of MR. X

What makes working in the VFX industry in Australia special to you?

It’s been thrilling to see the Australian film industry expanding as it has the last few years. As an Australian myself, I studied, trained, and begun my career here, then to gain access to the kind of projects I wanted to be involved in I moved to London for a time. It’s great to see those self-same types of projects gracing our shores now, supporting both our local talent and drawing global creatives to this incredible country of ours.

Any guiding principles you live by when leading a team?

In leading a team, I feel it’s important not to let stratification of seniority stop collaboration. As a Producer, I still tried to meet and share a pint with as many of the crew as I could have access to, not just because there’s so many interesting people in our industry but to gain access to a wide gamut of knowledge and ideas. I’m a firm proponent of asking questions often, to all the passionate and driven people we work alongside. My technical understanding has made me an invaluable partner to supervisors and clients, and it’s in no small part due to all the people who taught me something new along the way.

Any words of wisdom?

A piece of advice I offer to my team which I feel applies to everyone coming up in the industry – each of us as individuals has a unique set of skills and point of view to contribute, so don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. The smartest idea in the room should always win, and the more you pipe up the better you’ll get at throwing your hat in the ring.

Find out more about: