Logo Rob Buckley – Freelance Journalist and Editor

Negative is positive

Negative is positive

As Polygram Filmed Entertainment's digital film fx subsidiary comes to the end of its launch project Robert Buckley goes in search of its offices on the very edge of London's Soho

It's easy to miss Double Negative. Despite opening its doors for business back in November, it still doesn't have a sign for its office, nor even a logo. Unless you happen to know it's in the Sun Alliance building on Shaftesbury Avenue, you're not going to find it.

Md Matthew Holben hopes that will change now the company is nearing the end of its first job, and it has time for the little niceties of business...

“We had 13 weeks to get everything in place, so it's pretty functional,” he explains. The 10,000 sqft, second-floor offices house 35 full-time staff and 10 freelances, and have 2000 sq ft available for further expansion. Holben looked at a number of buildings, but Soho Square's planning restrictions didn't allow for their tight schedule to establish the company.

Double Negative started when Holben was approached by Polygram Filmed Entertainment. An MPC employee for over 13 years, and one of the founders of its Digital Film subsidiary, Holben says the opportunity “seemed like one of those offers that was too good to refuse – so l didn't.”

Recruiting most of his compositing team from Digital Film, he launched the company on the back of Pitch Black, a Polygram/Working Tile thriller directed by Fugitive- writer David Twohy.

“We had the ideal vehicle to start and build the facility. From there, we can move the company on as a going concern.” Since that launch, however, Seagram has merged Polygram with Universal. “We're very unaffected by the whole thing,” claims Holben. “We run the business at arm's length. We still have to pitch for Polygram work, the same as anybody else.”

Double Negative will specialise merely in 2D and 3D visual effects, he says, taking advantage of other companies' skills as necessary - be it The Mill's motion-control rig or a telecine for rough-cuts. “We want to get involved earlier in the production lifecycle,” explains Holben, “because so many people see visual effects as the last link in the chain. We're always battling against that; visual effects aren't necessarily the expensive bits at the end.”

With its Pitch Black legacy, the company is geared up almost entirely for film. But with the collapse of digital film in London, and work on the current project due to finish by the end of the month, that could change. “Mainly we're aimed at doing film work - but we have a broadcast project that starts shooting in May...” Will they have a sign up by then? “This is a people business. People know the quality of work. That's far more important than the frills of some commercial facilities in town...”

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