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staff profile: John Saleem

BY: Crystel Newman |

CATEGORIES: film, interview, jobs, rspedu, vfx, rising sun pictures, rspvfx

M E E T   J O H N  S A L E E M  -  S E N I O R   M O D E L E R  

John was born in Iraq. Growing up, his father was a traditional oil painting artist (in his spare time), and he was inspired by his father's amazing art work.  Fascinated by how his dad could transform a white canvas into into something spectacular, John would mess around with his dad's paints and brushes in their home studio. 

A few years later, John developed a passion for playing video games, while he also learnt to dabble with Borland c++. He knew back then, he wanted to create characters that were more than just still images in his sketch book. He wanted to combine his flair for creating, and his enjoyment of video games, so he chose his first 3D program to play around with - 3D Studio 4. Watching the making of The Matrix, countless times, where they talked about how they used Maya to create 3D graphics, made John even more obsessed with 3D!

In 2007, his VFX career began when he joined the team at FUEL VFX in Sydney. Since then, John has worked at Iloura, Animal Logic, Fin Design, Flying Bark, Post Modern Sydney, and a few TVC studios in Sydney, before joining the team at Rising Sun Pictures in 2017. 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT RSP? 
We have lots of very talented artists at RSP who deliver high-quality work - no matter how difficult the project might be. Also, RSP deal with many big clients and win lots of great projects that every artist wants to work on.

WHAT MOVIES HAVE YOU WORKED ON?
Thor: Ragnarok, Animal World, Peter Rabbit, Tomb Raider, Gods of Egypt, PAN, The Legend of Tarzan, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards, Underworld: Blood Wars, John Wick Chapter II, Ghostbusters, The Leftovers, Childhood’s End, The Water Diviner, The Pack, Blinky Bill the movie, War World Memorial.

FAVOURITE MOVIE YOU HAVE WORKED ON? 
This is a hard one, I enjoyed modelling Loki character in Thor: Ragnarok, also working on Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastard, and being part of the Emmy award winning team was a great honour.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT WORKING IN THE VFX INDUSTRY? 
In my role, I really enjoy the creation process. Starting a new scene, there is nothing but the grids on the first day of the project, and by the end, is a realistic animated asset. I love showing family and friends our work - they look amazed, and ask, is that really CG? It is very nice to witness the technology evolve over the years, and being part of it.

I also really like the multicultural nature of the VFX industry. We get to work and communicate with people from all over the world, not only share knowledge about the industry itself, but life in general.

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING TASK YOU HAVE FACED?
This one happened in NSW years ago, where I had to be on set for a racing TV commercial.  The producer and I were required to get very close to a very muscular race horse for reference images. That horse had more muscles than the hulk! It wasn’t in a good mood either. I was nervous as I got very close to take close-up pics of hooves while his trainer held him. I remember saying to my producer 'what would happen if the horse decides to get angry and yell “THIS .. IS .. SPARTA!!” and kick me in the chest?!!  Ok, maybe I have watched to many movies! Fortunately for me, the horse behaved, otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here at RSP today!

WHAT CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN THE INDUSTRY?
More VFX studios coming to Australia, more opportunities for everyone.

WHAT INTERESTS YOU?
I like to play heavy, fast riffs on my guitar.
I like driving V8s and fast cars. 
I
 love working out and discovering more about diet and nutrition. 

TELL US ABOUT ADELAIDE?
Moving from Sydney, it was a big change! Adelaide is peaceful and calm for sure, and the beaches are not crowded and fairly close. South Australia has nice roads and coastline - ideal for long drives!

SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT WE DON'T KNOW...
I don't eat seafood! I know, its weird .. I can go to the pub and eat fish and chips with a cold beer, but I cant stand the smell or taste of other seafood stuff lol.

FAVOURITE DRINK
coffee (flat white)

CRAZIEST THING YOU'VE DONE?
Hmmm...I honestly can't decide which one...

SUPERPOWER OF CHOICE, AND WHY?
Wolverine's Regenerative healing power - for faster recovery from workout, means more training!

IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE AT ALL, WHO WOULD IT BE?
James Hetfield from MetallicA … he needs to sign my guitar.

PHOBIA
Giant spiders!

WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS....
Are you referring to the song ?...
I think the world needs to know that we can co-exist and work together, no matter what you believe in, or where you came from.

ADVICE TO ASPIRING ARTISTS
It sounds like a cliche, but it is true, you only fail by not trying, so don't stop trying - work hard on achieving your dreams. I grew up in a war zone watching the making of movies and tutorials in magazines, telling my friends back then “I’ll work in films making visual effects.” This only made them laugh, it sounded so far from reach. I quit my job and spend almost a year doing nothing but practicing 3D on a very old computer. Later, I started freelancing small 2D animation jobs, and in 2007 in Sydney I was offered my first job in the industry. Today I am a senior member of the Rising Sun Pictures team, so yes, never give up -  keep trying!

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