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Zero VFX's, Meg Bailey began her journey as a production assistant and is now credited with some pretty amazing projects including the visual effects producer for the Denzel Washington and Viola Davis Oscar-nominated film, Fences. She answered a few questions, including how she got her start, what she loves about her job and more. 

PH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Meg Bailey: I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA – with parents that also worked in production. My dad is a sound designer/audio engineer and my stepmom is a casting director. Pennsylvania has a film tax incentive so there is a decent amount of production work that goes on there.

I graduated from Emerson College with a BA in Film and a concentration in postproduction. When I graduated I saw myself ending up in editorial work, but I wasn’t yet familiar with the world of visual effects.

PH: How did you get involved in the VFX industry?

Meg Bailey: I blindly reached out to Brian Drewes when I was freelancing as an assistant editor. I said, “I don’t really know what skills I have that would be useful to you, but I’m looking for work if you need any help.” I was then brought in as a general production and I/O assistant and took more quickly to visual effects than I ever would have imagined.

PH: What are some of the projects you are proudest to have worked on?

Meg Bailey: I am definitely proud of having produced the visual effects for Fences. It was a successful project internally for ZERO, was an incredible client experience, and the film hits a personal note for me, having done justice to the great Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson, in faithfully recreating the 1950s Pittsburgh skyline.

Commercial-wise, I am really proud of the Klondike Space Flavors spots that involved a complex composite of half-melted Klondike bars (using 18 plates of motion capture footage). I always love to work on Ocean Spray campaigns because those spots are so iconic. There was also a SolarCity commercial called Those Who Go Solar, that featured a full CG environment that incorporated nine practical scenes at one time. That was fun.

PH: What does your day-to-day work at ZERO VFX look like?

Meg Bailey: Certainly a lot of juggling, but I am most focused in a fast-paced environment. I split my time between client conversations and directing artists internally, acting as the liaison between the two. On average, I am working on about five different jobs at a time. I am usually involved in some sort of internal project too – aiming to improve pipelines and artist experience.

PH: What is the most challenging project you have worked on at ZERO VFX?

Meg Bailey: There have been many technically challenging projects, but specifically from a management perspective the film Unfinished Business stands out. We were working on the majority of the visual effects shots in Boston but also managing a vendor in Berlin since some of the film was shot in Germany. Our client was in LA so between the two cities I had quite the time difference to accommodate. Communicating edit changes and orchestrating tight deadlines between facilities 3, 6, or 9 hours apart (depending on where you were!) tested my organization and time estimation skills. And my sleep schedule.

PH: What changes do you see coming to the VFX industry in the future?

Meg Bailey: From a commercial standpoint, more and more traditional finishing work tends to be going to in- house post facilities at agencies. I also think that simple paint tasks will need to become more affordable and more easily accessible.

I hope that as filmmakers and creatives become more comfortable with using visual effects as a whole, VFX houses can help to play a greater role in the creative process from the pre- production stage. We almost always achieve the best results on a project when we are able to consult and help to develop ideas from the beginning.

PH: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

Meg Bailey: I worked in the restaurant industry for eight years, so I love food, wine, and cooking. I love watching TV shows and movies and discussing them with my friends and coworkers. I am also a big podcast listener – I usually listen to at least three different podcasts per day. They help me to keep learning!

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