ReDefine Centre Stage – Interview with Eric J. Robertson

Get ready to give a standing ovation for our new profile series, ReDefine Centre Stage! In this series, we’ll be shining a light on the spectacular individuals who work across our global studios. Every two weeks, a different team member will take the stage to share their experiences, insights and advice. Today we are chatting with Eric J. Robertson, Executive VP at our Los Angeles studio. 

1. How did you get your start in VFX? What inspired you to choose VFX as a career? 

I began as a Production Assistant right out of college and really excelled at craft service and rental pick ups. Then, I worked as an Assistant Director for nine years prior to working in visual effects. It was challenging and exciting running the set and organizing our days, but I was really looking for an opportunity to be more creative. I wanted to use my talents as a photographer and to also utilize my technical skills on the computer. I worked on several films with significant quantities of visual effects and spent a lot of time learning about the role of visual effects supervisor and producer. While prepping one of the movies, I did a 40 page VFX breakdown before the supervisor began in an effort to showcase my abilities. He wanted to hire me on the spot.

That was 23 years ago and I’ve been blessed with some wonderful opportunities and experiences ever since.

2. What’s the best thing about your current role? 

I really enjoy nurturing talent and helping artists realize their potential. I get to work with so many great teams of VFX artists and direct them to achieving photorealistic and integrated imagery. I also really love helping directors express their vision and tell their stories.

3. Tell us about a career highlight! 

I was supervising Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and had a really fantastic rapport with Adam McKay, the director and Will Ferrell’s partner. We were conceptualizing the RV crash sequence, as well as the shark attack. We started with storyboards and then we animated some previs. After that I shot some stunt tests to show Adam how we could achieve the vision of the sequence. He was thrilled with the results and gave very few notes. On the day we were scheduled to shoot the scenes (on different days), we all showed up and in front of everyone he announced that I would be the director. It was such an honor and both scenes turned out great.

4. Advice for anyone wanting to get into a senior leadership role?

Learn to listen. Practice creativity, ask questions. Be strong and firm but always kind and understanding. Be clear and direct but really engage with your team. Be patient. And if you are working your way up the ladder, just start doing the work that you want to do and become the leader by taking on that responsibility. Show your ability by doing the work and it will be recognized.

5. What is your favourite movie? 

It’s a Wonderful Life by Frank Capra. I’m a sucker for a happy ending and Capra was a genius storyteller.

6. What about your dream project? 

A modern day classic – a really great Christmas movie. I wish I had worked on Elf so whatever the next one of those is…

7. What ReDefine studio would you like to work in for a day?

Any of our Indian studios would be amazing, but Mumbai is number one on my list.

ReDefine is definitely a great place to be. I have enjoyed every single day here, the work is truly rewarding. The teams share a great bond and that’s what makes it a great place to work.

Shilpa Bhanushali Head of Production (Animation)

We have top-of-line professionals who are not only creative, but also fun to work with. It has created a lot of possibilities for reinventing workflows.

François Schneider Global Creative Supervisor, North America

The people who form ReDefine have come from varied experiences and all have the potential to develop and deliver world-class projects.

Viral Thakkar Creative Director and VFX Supervisor India