LookFX Folds; Staff and Projects Move to Mass Market VFX (Exclusive)

Noah Movie Darren Aronofsky

Commercials company enters feature vfx fray with defunct firm's staff

Vancouver, Canada — LookFX, a highly regarded small vfx studio with offices in Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver, has closed its doors — but its staff is not disbanding.

The staff of Look has moved en masse to Mass Market, a commercials vfx company that is entering the feature vfx business. Though the Look name has perished, the staff will become Mass Market’s features division. Look’s current projects move with them.

Look officially ceased operations doors Monday and its staff is already at work at Mass Market. LookFX partners Henrik Fett and Mark Driscoll will be co-managing directors of Mass Market’s feature division. They will report to Jay Lichtman, managing director of MassMarket.

“Look has struggled for some time,” LookFX president and co-founder Driscoll told Variety. “We came into 2014 limping significantly from the overages we had on ‘Noah,’ and we were rebuilding, then a show went belly-up on us in New York, a significant installation project.”

As a result, said Driscoll, “Look is not able to survive financially. We came to that realization a few weeks ago, where given all the things we talked about and the regular summer slump of work.

“When it became clear that (LookFX) was going to have to be closed, the opportunity came with (Mass Market) to salvage some of this, an opportunity provide employment and benefits for as many people as we can.”

Almost all Look staffers are moving to Mass Market, with the exception of some who were hired on for specific shows.  Look’s credits include features “Man of Steel,” “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” as well as TV shows “Black Sails” and “Nashville.”

Mass Market’s Lichtman said, “In many ways it is business of usual for the bulk of the LookFX team,” but they will benefit from “a more robust pipeline and financial environment.” Lichtman said bringing Mass Market’s technology with Look’s talent will benefit the artists.

“Look has always enjoyed a great reputation, but that’s almost in spite of the technology they’ve used,” Lichtman said. Mass Market means to “compete with the big boys.”

“We’re swinging for the fences. We plan on investing in in-house bespoke technologies. For us that is the only way for us to compete. I want Look to be renowned for creature work and effects.”

Mass Market has offices in Venice, Calif., New York and Vancouver, Canada. The seven Look staffers in New York and the 10 in Los Angeles have moved into Mass Market’s offices. Look’s Vancouver office will remain intact under the Mass Market banner.

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  1. Capt Crunch says:

    Ooof. Now MassMarket is closed. Less than 1 year later. Rough times. Fuck.

  2. Will Cox says:

    I’m owed money by them and am extremely pissed off.

  3. VFX Refugee says:

    If these guys have saved their butts on the hard work and reputations of the people that are no longer there because they were(and still are) owed MONEY… and DO NOT PAY THEM NOW FOR that work (which obviously has benefited once again, THEM) which is legitimately OWED, THEN WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE THEY!?!? and WHO in the world would want to DO, much less GO into business WITH, people such as this?? Could it be that the new entity didn’t know all of the details of their entire situation? or if so, then what would that say about the integrity of the parties involved?

    The LOOK FX employees were INVESTED in the company by floating it time and time again on the BACKS OF THEIR PAYROLL. So much so that it seems they were taken for granted and a pattern was formed in doing so. Now these same people are owed collectively a lot of money (many after giving notice and resigning) that was LEGALLY DUE ON THEIR LAST DAY.

    Even then in what seems now, true LOOK FX style, they put everyone off with the poor us story and concocted same crazy contracts that effectively was a “payment plan” BY THEIR OWN MAKING (which IF you signed saying you wouldn’t litigate, you would GET A SMALL BONUS!) WHICH THEY NOW HAVE BROKEN AS WELL!!

    So now these same employees, that even in leaving, was trying to be sympathetic and reluctantly went along with their “payment plan”(although I doubt anyone signed it) have been left in the dark waiting for news on what steps are being taken to pay them back only to see this breaking story!?!? Told in such a rejuvenating upbeat spin on this terrible situation? One can only hope that this positive news for them means a lot of people and their families will finally GET what is owed to them. Right???

    But somehow, one cant help but feel like this is just another new scheme for them to try and dodge their responsibilities and debts to a host of ex employees who do not deserve this, if that’s the outcome.

    The silence from them has been deafening and now we know why.While everyone has been waiting on news about their money, it seems they have been digging a tunnel and planning their own escape~

  4. Another Soldier says:

    “The company is now closing up after having a staff of these same 60+ people just 4 months ago, and there’s little chance of us ever being paid back (the majority of employees resigned). The core team that clients loved and those largely responsible for the production of the projects are now gone. 99% of material from Look’s demo reel is by people no longer with the company. The fact that the owners admit they owe us money, yet aren’t willing to work or communicate with us says there’s no plan in place to ensure that they follow through”

    http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/former-lookfx-employees-tell-their-side/

  5. Steven Brooks says:

    We HAVE to do something. We’re losing our industry to other countries, and it’s sickening.

  6. former staff says:

    I just lost all respect for David Cohen. This article is a farce. Look has repeatedly lied to employees and freelancers for over a year. They owe almost a million in back pay and have been putting people off under the guise they were going to pay everyone back in full.

    Look back to that article on Noah a few months back. There was a real article that was going to come out but Driscoll was able to spin it in a postitive light. The reality is that Driscoll and Fett have made failed promises since last November when they began missing payroll while continuing to pay themselves. They are both used car salesman.

    What is shocking is that massmarket and psyop are complicit in the whole thing. They are fully aware that Look is running from debts and screwing a whole group of people out of lost wages. To claim this is the best solution for everyone is a farce.

    This is nothing but a way for them to run from their debts. What this article does not mention is that most former look employees have quit or resigned over the last few months because of the terrible lack of leadership and lack of pay.

    David your journalistic integrity has just been severely damaged. You better work quick to make this right.

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