Ian Cope, Producer & Communications Manager

BY: iancope |

CATEGORIES: interview, marketing, news, producer

In his 12-plus years with the company, the young father of two has spread his skills across a number of job titles in production, marketing and sales.

He has seen his responsibilities expand to encompass such disparate activities as developing the global marketing strategy, to managing RSP's ambitious training program for aspiring artists.

Cope's current title is Communications Manager, but "evangelist" might be a more apt term for his role. For an Australian company whose livelihood depends on attracting work from film studios and production companies located half a world away, the business of communication takes on added significance. Having spent years in the trenches as a visual effects producer, Cope has come to believe that in terms of quality, creativity and efficiency, RSP can compete with any visual effects provider in the world. He's made it his mission to make sure that you believe it too.

So, as Communications Manager, what are your responsibilities?
I'm in charge of how the brand is perceived in the market, which includes developing our sales & marketing strategy and the campaigns that demonstrate our work to clients, artists & the industry. I manage our training program with Flinders University and I produce visual effects, most recently for RSP's work on Gravity and The Seventh Son.

What is your objective in marketing RSP?
I ensure that the work of the RSP team is profiled in a way that enhances our exposure to clients, artists and the industry. We create some amazing, beautiful images, and I want to tell the story of how they were made through the creation of engaging content. This is through our main communication conduits, our website, demo reel and social media.
We work with amazing clients on great films, and I want people to understand what it's like to interact with RSP. Where we are different is how we execute the work, and the quality and integrity that we deliver. I want to deliver that message in a memorable way so that when people are planning their next project, they think back to the work that RSP did on a past project and say to themselves, That looked great, I want to work with them!"

Have you always been interested in film?
As a boy, I was a fan of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. I also liked The Blues Brothers and Back to the Future. My family looked after a video store for a couple of months in the mid 80s, and that started my obsession with films. At the same time we got our first home computer, and I was hooked! A trip to Universal Studios exposed me to movie special effects, and I finally saw a career that could combine the two. I continued to tinker with technology, which allowed me to follow the computer graphics trends that led me to the vfx industry.

How did you get started in animation/vfx?
When I was at university, I got a job at a company that sold non-linear editing and 3D animation software and hardware. I built computers from scratch, installed software and trained professionals. I learned 3D Studio Max and taught people how to us it, at one stage I was flown to Fiji to teach the team at Fiji TV how to use their top-end system. (Sadly a couple of weeks later, there was a coup in Fiji and that system was trashed by the Army.) I bought an educational version of Maya and taught myself how to use it. For my final year project, I created a 6-minute animation about a cockroach looking for love. That project allowed me to do a lot of things: modeling, rigging, animation, remote rendering, multiple shaders, editing, sound and even some 3D compositing. It was primitive stuff compared to what we do at RSP, but it gave me a taste for the complexities of the craft.

How did you get connected with RSP?
In 2001 I was teaching animation and effects at a private tertiary college, when I heard that RSP were looking for visual effects compositors for a film. There was an issue where it needed digital negative repair. I worked with a team in a small room doing very basic fixes, involving an entire film scanned at 4K – over one hundred and fifty-odd thousand frames! It was crazy with the technology of the time, but we managed to fix it and the film was released. Even though it was a mundane set of tasks, I was so happy to be working in film!

By the time that finished, RSP had been awarded several sequences for The Core and were expanding their Sydney office. I naturally fell into a visual effects coordinator role. I also had my background in hardware, software, troubleshooting, compositing and editing, and all that got thrown in. Since then, my role has progressed through production, into marketing and back again, including time onset, touring Asia presenting RSP's work, contributing to the early development of cineSync, and more. I've worked directly on over 30 films, and indirectly on many more – and collaborated with some of the Directors and VFX practitioners that were responsible for the movies that I grew up with. It's a long way since that video store, but I still present RSP's work with the same wide-eyed enthusiasm I had back then!