FatBelly VFX founder Shannan Louis | STASH MAGAZINE

FatBelly VFX Launches in Vancouver

From the release:

Vancouver, BC – When Shannan Louis launched FatBelly VFX earlier this year, she did not expect COVID to completely rattle the world as we know it, yet she was uniquely prepared.

Louis is no stranger to working on visually breathtaking, cutting-edge projects, having ran studios such as CoSA VFX and Psyop Film and Television, a premier visual effects company with offices in Los Angeles and New York, working on projects that include the action-thriller The Accountant starring Ben Affleck, and popular series “The Walking Dead,” “Lemony Snicket – A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and “The X Files.”

With FatBelly VFX, she was aiming to create a studio that would break the industry mold by taking a holistic approach that aims to foster an environment that empowers its team, as well as build social consciousness and a culture of giving back.

Since launching, FatBelly has already been hard at work on projects such as season 2 of “Another Life” for Netflix, with more in the pipeline.

The visual effects industry is particularly known for grueling schedules and high burn-out rates. Instead, her studio, which is headquartered in Downtown Vancouver, would be set up to allow more opportunities for remote work, giving parents a chance to work from home either permanently or just a few days per week. “When kids are home sick from schools, it means that parents don’t need to take sick days,” explains Louis, “they can work from home while keeping an eye on their kids.”

This greater flexibility also means that women, who’d often be forced to leave the industry after having children, could remain engaged. “We need to be adaptable and open to new ways,” she says. A hybrid between in-person work and team culture building, combined with flexible remote working is the way forward.

To make this process streamlined had meant that FatBelly would need to use scalable, highly secure, and current technological solutions such as the cloud-based, Arch Platform Technologies.

Louis’ vision for FatBelly is to create a company culture that empowers and engages its employees, as well as gives back to their community. “It’s a smart business move too,” she says, “By creating an environment where people can do their best work, it means that employees are happy and clients are satisfied. It’s a win/win.”

With FatBelly VFX, Louis has also been keen to elevate women working within VFX into creative positions. “In Vancouver, there’s only a small handful of female VFX supervisors,” she says, “It’s a male-dominated industry and in order for it to change we have to create opportunities for women to have equality.” To further that goal, FatBelly is committed to engaging with female artists early on in their careers to present them with opportunities as positions open up.

The studio also has partnered with Lost Boys School of VFX to allow their students to undertake an 8 week practicum with the studio. FatBelly, however, is committed to working with talented artists of any gender or race.

To honor its community and promote a culture of giving back, each calendar year, FatBelly picks a different charitable organization to raise funds for internally and also make a donation on behalf of the company at the end of the year. For 2020, the recipient will be the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

FatBelly also implements various in-house initiatives. This year, the team has chosen to learn sign language as a way to continue breaking down barriers for people with disabilities.

“It’s so easy to get very focused on VFX and forget about the world around us,” explains Louis, “It’s such an all-encompassing industry that it’s important for us to remember about other people and also remain connected to our community, which is why I implemented the above initiatives.”

A “FatBelly” means that people are well taken care of, both inside and outside the studio. “As a business owner and human, I feel that it’s my responsibility to give back to the community around me. I want others to benefit and have ‘FatBellies’ too.”

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