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Leo Neelands

Compositor (Freelance)

I was inspired by my favourite childhood films ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘ET’, ‘Tron’, ‘Bladerunner’, and ‘Indiana Jones’. The visuals in these films were magic, and I wanted to be part of that. I genuinely look forward to going to work every day.

‘The Hobbit’ was incredible to work on. Weta Digital is an amazing company, with some of the cleverest people in the world working there, as well as some of the nicest. I loved it!


‘This is Spinal Tap’ is full of some of the best lines ever. My favourite would be; “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” A friend at FuelVFX, reminded me of the line a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been chuckling to myself ever since.


VFX loving Leo Neelands has traversed the globe on a ship built of his much sought after VFX expertise. From MPC to Cinesite, Fuel VFX to Weta Digital. He truly has a number of serious motion pictures under his belt. It only takes one glance at his IMDB profile to see that his back catalogue is nothing short of impressive. We recently caught up with escapee Leo, to find out about his journey into this realm.

In 2005, after a number of years working as a Drug & Alcohol Worker, a career change beckoned, and the creative platform that was VFX was calling his name. After undertaking a HND course at South Nottingham College, his skills were recognised by a tutor there, who advised him to make his way down to London. Some industry based friends coerced him into furthering his skills, eventually streamlining them at Escape Studios.


Be brave - I was terrified when I started at Escape. I was a yokel from the midlands moving to the hub of the film industry. I wasn't confident that I was going to be able to meet the standard required, but Escape was a great place to be; very relaxed and fun which put me at ease, but also very focused on the industry and on gaining employment. It felt like a serious course and was an inspiring place to be. It made me want to learn more and work harder. I don't remember thinking or talking of much else but VFX for a couple of months... in hindsight, I may have been a little boring to be around in that period!

Enjoy your career - I've met a lot of lifelong friends through this industry, so I am rather lucky to have lots of fun in and out of work with them. Myself and Jon Van Hoey Smith, (a compositor from MPC) started a band a couple of years ago, after realising we tapped our angle poised desk lamps with our wacom pens in a pleasing way whenever a ska tune came on.

Don’t expect family and friends to understand - I would tell them about the 700gb per frame deep rgba file I had to grapple with on The Hobbit. It was a scary monster of a thing to deal with, where in technology is moving faster than the hardware capabilities.  In response, they would look at me with empty expressions, and ask me what the cider was like in New Zealand… it was great by the way!