Hartwick’s Fox’s fox in f/x henhouse

Event films have studios streamlining effects process

Greenlighting an ever-growing number of effects-heavy pics, 20th Century Fox has tapped Joe Hartwick to oversee a new visual effects department at the studio.

Hartwick, who also serves as Fox’s prexy of physical production, will essentially coordinate the visual effects needs of all Fox films and serve as a liaison for the effects facilities working on them.

Like most studios, Fox outsources effects work needed for its pics to vendors, with some, like last year’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “X2: X-Men United,” employing a dozen or more vendors on a single film.

This year, Fox is readying to roll out the effects-heavy “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Garfield,” “I, Robot,” and “Alien vs. Predator.”

Creation of the department comes as Fox has been trying to figure out a more efficient way to manage its effects spending and post process.

“Event films, which can have anywhere from hundreds to thousands of visual effects shots, are changing the landscape of filmmaking,” Hartwick said. “Effects-heavy ‘wow’ scenes traditionally were shot last; now, we’re revamping how we schedule and produce these scenes and how we interface with the production, post-production and marketing groups.”

Reporting to Hartwick is Rich Thorne, senior VP, visual effects, who has been overseeing f/x at Fox for the past eight years.

Additionally, Robin Griffin and Karen Murphy have joined the department as vice presidents.

Griffin is producing effects on Fox’s upcoming “The Kingdom of Heaven” and “Fat Albert,” among others.

Murphy is the visual effects producer on the upcoming “Taxi” and “The Flight of the Phoenix.” She previously worked on “Titanic,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”