Montreal visual effects producers celebrate ‘Blade Runner 2049’ win

TORONTO — Visual effects producer Adam O’Brien-Locke wasn’t going to let another potential “La La Land” mix-up dampen his neighbourhood Oscar party in Montreal.

When “Blade Runner 2049” was announced as the winner in the visual effects category on Sunday night, O’Brien-Locke said he paused for a moment to make sure it wasn’t a mistake.

“I was worried maybe they got the name wrong like they did last year,” he said in a phone interview Monday, pointing to the mistake that briefly kept “Moonlight” from winning best picture in 2017.

“I was happy to find out it was, in fact, ‘Blade Runner 2049.’”

O’Brien-Locke is part of a group of 80 people at Montreal effects studio RodeoFX who played a major role in crafting the imagery of Quebec director Denis Villeneuve’s vivid sci-fi fantasy.

Many of the film’s establishing shots and backgrounds, including the memorable Coca-Cola can hologram, were created by his team.

But he isn’t technically an Oscar winner, since only studio supervisors are named in the nominations. The award went to visual effects supervisors John Nelson, Paul Lambert, and Richard R. Hoover, plus special effects supervisor Gerd Nefzer.

During the acceptance speech, Hoover thanked his “friends in Montreal,” many who work alongside him at Framestore, another local effects company that oversaw “Blade Runner 2049.”

Framestore was responsible for the film’s stunning opening sequence where Ryan Gosling’s police vehicle speeds across a skyline of hundreds of solar panels, among several of the shots in Las Vegas.

“Merci beaucoup, this is for you,” Hoover said as he clutched the Oscar statue.

Sabrina Gagnon, one of the visual effects producers at Framestore, said the moment led to an explosion of excitement among the couple of hundred employees gathered at a Montreal bar.

“We started to scream like crazy, everyone was hugging each other,” she said.

“To know that it’s possible and accessible, it’s hard to believe we actually did it, we actually won. Even today we’re talking about how we can’t believe we actually won.”

O’Brien-Locke said the televised Oscar moment also gave him a sense of pride in everything RodeoFX accomplished on the film.

“There were a lot of people that contributed visual effects … and put their heart onto the screen,” he said.

Even though he wasn’t invited to the Hollywood ceremony, O’Brien-Locke said Sunday was still a memorable night spent with his family and friends, and a hearty serving of pulled pork and snacks.

“Sure there’s snow on the ground, and I was probably in sweatpants and not a tuxedo,” he said.

“But we were still able to make it our own party, and our own celebration, here in Canada.”

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