When helmer Stephen Sommers decided to segue from big action pics, such as “The Mummy” franchise and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” to the supernatural thriller “Odd Thomas,” based on Dean Koontz’s novel, one of his key goals was to find a vfx house that could bring a unique feel and look to the dark ethereal creatures that haunt the pic’s clairvoyant cook, played by Anton Yelchin.
Sommers chose Paris vfx shop BUF, co-managed by Pierre Buffin and India Osborne, whose track record includes “The Matrix,” “Avatar,” “Arthur,” “Green Lantern,” “Thor,” and Tim Burton’s upcoming “Dark Shadows.”
Indianapolis-born Sommers has a strong European pedigree, having graduated from Spain’s Seville U. followed by a four-year stint touring Europe as an actor and road manager.
“Stephen loves all things French,” says Osborne. “He wanted a different, European sensibility for the creatures.”
BUF developed CGI elements and computer-generated animation for the pic, incorporated them within the live action.
“We’ve produced something that’s never been seen before,” says Osborne. “We’ve generated complex transparencies and reflections, that mean we’re never quite sure what we’re watching — it’s an eerie effect.”
BUF has a 300-strong workforce, with offices in Paris and L.A., and production units about to open in Brussels and Montreal.
The company exclusively uses inhouse software and is known for its path-breaking “haute couture” f/x such as “The Matrix’s” “bullet-time” effect.
Equally important, BUF brought a 20% tax rebate to the vfx segment of the $27 million pic. It was BUF’s fifth project under the TRIP incentive program.
“I loved working with Film France and the Ile de France Film Commission,” Osborne says. “They were very thorough and were rooting for us throughout the process.”
After the film was approved under TRIP, BUF took a further undisclosed equity stake in the film via its financing and production arm, AngeleFine, entitling it to a share in the pic’s worldwide revenues.
“We really believe in this film and think it has major potential,” says Osborne. “No director has ever fought for us as Stephen did.”
Produced by Fusion Films, Future Films and the Sommers Co., “Odd Thomas” is slated for a late 2012 release.
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‘Chinese Zodiac’ | ‘Despicable Me” | ‘Odd Thomas’