2 Cents: MPC London

MPC is one of the biggest players out there. And it shows. The building complex in London’s fancy and busy Soho is huge and modern. The Linux machines don’t leave much to be desired. The leads and supes I had the pleasure to work with on Prometheus were undeniably and unvariably an immensely talented and friendly bunch. The producers and coordinators did a great job in organizing things in a way that gave the artists room to concentrate on their own work, and not having to worry about anything else. The pipeline is perfectly integrated and doesn’t feel like a millstone around your neck. There is an extensive documentation on the company’s history, people and technology, with some great information on where to go and what to do for lunch, after work and on weekends.

The pay is decent, although London will suck it all out of your pockets in no time if you’re not careful. :-) You’re encouraged not to do extensive extra hours, but instead come in on Saturdays. This benefits both your ability to stay focused on your work and your wallet; because extra days are paid, extra hours are not. All in all, I found work hours to be relatively relaxed, given the fact that I started working there right in the two last months. I expected to do about 90 hours a week, instead I don’t think I ever did more than 65. Most days, I would leave the office between 8 and 10pm. I think I only stayed past midnight three or four times, when there were important deadlines the next day.

The few negative points I found, probably come with the size of the company: you don’t work in an office, you work on a floor, together with some 50 other artists. That in itself would not be too bad, but most of them hate the sun, it would seem. So, you won’t see any natural light as soon as you enter the feature film section of the building. For me, that’s a huge downer. Also, from what I heard of people working on other shows, it seems that not all the teams were as organized and peaceful as the Prometheus crew. So, much of what I liked about the atmosphere there seems to be highly dependent on who you’re working with and what you’re working on.

The last thing I want to mention is that, like in most companies nowadays you don’t seem to count too much as an employee. If projects are delayed or cancelled, you will be out in the streets before you can say “But…” In London, that’s not too big a problem because, the next vfx house is probably right next door. But it can be annoying to switch companies three times in two weeks and then end up with the one that threw you out ten days before. This conduct seems to be a necessity arisen from the brutally narrow margins being made in the business and, as I said this is not specific to MPC. But it happened there to a huge number of artists that were let go ahead of time, and I think it’s only fair to mention. Doug Larmour held a thank-you speech and said “I cannot stress enough how much I didn’t want this to happen.”