Fuel VFX goes into administration

fuel vfxOne of Australia’s most respected independent visual effects houses has gone into administration.

Staff of Fuel VFX – which employs around 100 people – were given the news yesterday.

The Sydney-based Fuel VFX was set up 12 years ago by VFX supervisors Paul Butterworth, Andrew Hellen, Simon Maddison, Dave Morley and executive producer Jason Bath who had a shared background in film and TV projects. Fuel VFX specialises in computer generated animation, motion design and post production.

The production house has worked on a wide range of projects across film, TV and and commercials. Administrators Jirsch Sutherland are fighting to keep the company as a going concern and work is continuing on existing projects.

Recent film work has included Prometheus, Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol and The Avengers. TV work has included Nine Network’s Tricky Business. Its recent TV commercials have included work on brands including Optus, Wrigley’s, Leggo’s pasta, GE and McDonald’s.

The administrators issued a statement saying: “The company’s directors have advised Jirsch Sutherland that, being independent, the company has struggled to navigate the downturn in work that is affecting many visual effects companies worldwide at the moment. The voluntary administration process has been called on by the directors as a way of preserving and financially restructuring the business.

“In addition to the directors’ financial restructuring attempts, the administrators are seeking expressions of interest in the business and assets of the company as a going concern.”


  1. Josh
    28 Aug 12
    12:25 pm

  2. Sad to hear.

  3. Anne Miles
    28 Aug 12
    12:43 pm

  4. Very sad to hear for a bunch of incredibly talented people. This is something close to many hearts at present and I’m thinking of you all. Let’s hope something good comes of the re-adjustment for all.

  5. Bob
    28 Aug 12
    12:47 pm

  6. Ridley Scott boasted on video about how low they kept the costs on Prometheus.. VFX companies are squeezed. This is the result.
    Impressive company – bad news for Australia and the vfx world

  7. Anonymous
    28 Aug 12
    12:53 pm

  8. This is terrible news – especially given the terrific work they’ve done over the years. If they can’t stay afloat with such strong credentials, what chance does the rest of the industry stand?

  9. Anonymous
    28 Aug 12
    1:48 pm

  10. its a tough market out there for film and vfx thats for sure

  11. Margaret
    28 Aug 12
    1:59 pm

  12. Wow, what a tough call for them to make – best wishes to the Directors and the Administrators for the process that lies ahead. Lets hope that as a team they can draw a good result from the experience and that EOIs to keep this team of highly skilled creative talent working for our industry are abundant and genuine.

  13. AdGrunt
    28 Aug 12
    2:03 pm

  14. Very sad. FIngers crossed for salvation.

    To Bob’s point, I understand it’s the film part that has struggled rather than the ad part.

    [Shakes fist at Ridley]

  15. Anonymous
    28 Aug 12
    2:10 pm

  16. It’s a very sad day for Australian VFX

  17. Anonymous
    28 Aug 12
    2:59 pm

  18. It’s a real shame.

  19. Joseph
    28 Aug 12
    3:26 pm

  20. Sad indeed. Fuel’s work was world class and from all reports they were great to work for.

  21. Anonymous
    28 Aug 12
    3:41 pm

  22. There is no future for an independent VFX houses in Australia. Despite a 30% PDV incentive rebate the strength of the AUD vs USD and high cost of labor equal <5% net margins. No margin for error in a creative, capital intensive business. Say bye, bye to others in the coming months. You need to be global with multiple locations to survive.

  23. elliott yancey
    28 Aug 12
    3:47 pm

  24. Understanding this is a very competitive market, this should have never happen. It is the best interest of the Australian film industry, that Fuel remained competitive. God I wished I had the funds! Fuel has an awesome team, talented and passionate and I seriously dismayed that this has occurred. I do hope there is something good coming out of this.

  25. ex-agency girl
    28 Aug 12
    4:44 pm

  26. I agree with #3 – Bob. Very sad indeed.

  27. Monkeyhut VFX
    28 Aug 12
    4:53 pm

  28. Woah, this is huge news. Good things can come out of tough situations though, so hopefully all will work out in the end.

  29. jean cave
    28 Aug 12
    6:10 pm

  30. Jeez that is really awful. Hope the talented employees find alternative work somewhere . . and’or the company survives.

  31. Golum
    28 Aug 12
    6:13 pm

  32. this is very sad for those who find themselves out of work

    hopefully it’ll serve as a warning to other houses to deliver value for money

    as an advertiser, i’ve never dealt with Fuel VFX , but i have been struck by ambit the invoices have been from other suppliers in this industry, charging ridiculous sums of money for basic administrative and IT tasks and double-dipping in areas like broadband usage

  33. Anonymous
    28 Aug 12
    6:32 pm

  34. It is incredibly sad to see a company like this fall over, but at the same time it is also a stark reflection on our industry as a whole.

    I really think it is time for all the ‘post’ houses in town to work together, rather than trying to undercut each other out of a dollar… otherwise it’s simply a race to the bottom.

    We are the only industry that has absolutely no guidelines in place or guild to support/ protect us.

    It’s time for CHANGE.

  35. Martin Walsh
    28 Aug 12
    7:03 pm

  36. This is so sad.

    These guys are awesome and the work they’ve done is fantastic.

    I just loved the alien spaceship navigation controls they did in PROMETHEUS and all their other work.

    Whilst some media and commentators keep raving about the so called ‘success’ of the odd Australian movie every year or so, meanwhile our world class industry keeps struggling just to keep the lights on.

    We need to do more to create a sustainable and vibrant film industry and it’s certainly not doing more of the same.

  37. Anonymous
    28 Aug 12
    10:11 pm

  38. talent is talent … they will all live on, I can guarantee that, maybe not as fuelfx, but they are strong survivors. They got a good run out of a tough industry … I don’t mean to sound harsh, in fact my heart goes out to them all.

    Times are going, if not already gone, for high capital investment in the sort of infrastructure that gets these places going… time to hit the cloud, if you don’t know what I mean, you have some studying to do.

    See you out there guys, times they are a changin’

  39. Pixel Pusher
    29 Aug 12
    1:15 am

  40. Fuel was one of the few companies I held close to my heart. I am so very sad.

    Everyone will attest that the involvement of VFX in movie storytelling has been on the rise for at least the last 10 years. Yes?!?

    Yet the margins for VFX are argued over time and time again…companies are undercutting companies that have already been undercut.

    I know everyone yabs on about how they got it “in camera”…..BRAVO!
    Now take off your hat to the 50 artists who worked day and night to fix the mistakes in the 20 other shots that you’ll never speak of.

    Sadly, it’s the end.

  41. Anonymous
    29 Aug 12
    7:11 am

  42. #13 hit the nail on the head.

    It deeply saddens me to see our local post production industry getting slowly flushed down the toilet. It’s time for reform.

  43. Scott Bradley
    29 Aug 12
    10:13 am

  44. I’d like to add to the many positive comments already made about the team at Fuel. In all my dealings with Jason and Andrew they’ve been fantastic and, of course, Fuel’s work speaks for itself. Good luck guys…I really hope it all sorts out.

  45. CanopyVFX
    29 Aug 12
    11:48 am

  46. Ditto #13 and #15. The industry has been pressing all us Post & VFX Houses down on budget for a good while now. There needs to be a time when this stops. Banding together however is a lot harder when all the Post and VFX houses are being swallowed by Deluxe!

    I believe a proliferation in the DIY post and VFX, stemming from accessible cameras, editing and compositing programs is one major cause. Clients see that ‘anyone’ can own the kit. The problem is, not just anyone can create great work.

    Great work comes from great artists and well managed strong teams and these things cost money. I don’t believe high budget necessarily equals good work (sometimes far from it!), but low budget makes it much much harder.

  47. Anonymous
    29 Aug 12
    1:37 pm

  48. Worst news… Fuel is such an awesome company and I honestly have had the best times working with them in the past. This is really a massive blow to the Australian VFX and Animation industry. #13 is definitely right, it really is time for a change in this ever increasing trend… so sad!

  49. Anonymous
    29 Aug 12
    1:55 pm

  50. Could anyone help with this question, is this financial difficulties Fuel VFX have is something to do with the market or because the high running cost in Australia?

  51. Anne Miles
    29 Aug 12
    2:44 pm

  52. I hope no one answers that question, @anonymous. It is no one’s business other than the Fuel owners and staff. It is so inappropriate to ask in a public setting like this anyway – I guess that’s why you remained anonymous. It can be a result of many causes, some through no fault of theirs even. It is sad for the industry regardless the reason.

  53. Anonymous
    29 Aug 12
    2:53 pm

  54. Both probably, the post budgets have been shrinking, and the cost of labour has been going up as global demand for talented staff increases.

  55. Anonymous
    29 Aug 12
    3:48 pm

  56. Rather than everyone just sitting around casually saying how “sad” it is, while they reach for a box of Kleenex tissues.


    Otherwise there will be a sudden influx of taxi drivers around town.

  57. Anonymous
    29 Aug 12
    3:53 pm

  58. I think your numbering system has gone out of sync??

    Everyone who refers to #13 above is referring to:

    It is incredibly sad to see a company like this fall over, but at the same time it is also a stark reflection on our industry as a whole.

    I really think it is time for all the ‘post’ houses in town to work together, rather than trying to undercut each other out of a dollar… otherwise it’s simply a race to the bottom.

    We are the only industry that has absolutely no guidelines in place or guild to support/ protect us.

    It’s time for CHANGE.

  59. Anonymous
    30 Aug 12
    4:19 am

  60. I whole heartily agree with the poster that says that we should do something. I think this is a tragedy but I feel that since they have been previously successful with many of there films. It may be possible they could be bought over. But I don’t imagine there quality of work and the projects being the same as what they have produced now. I just hope this won’t close down the company as it would be a shame to see such a big post house in australia collapse.

  61. Anonymous
    30 Aug 12
    11:23 am

  62. We (the post industry) are our own worst enemy. The constant undercutting has got to stop immediately if we are to salvage a sustainable industry for the future.

    Someone mentions above that agencies are getting post houses to undercut a post house that has already undercut their initial quote…

    The next time you hear “our client wants a ‘Gollum’ for 5 bucks”, simply stick to your guns and knock the work back.

    While you may miss out on some immediate work, I promise you this, it will pay off in the long run once clients start to realise that high-end work does cost money. Yeah sure, there will always be someone that would be willing to work out of their bedroom for 5 bucks, but the level of quality would be reflected in their final output.

    Because of the constant undercutting we have all got ourselves into a situation where we desperately need to win the next pitch/ project. We need to reverse the mess we’re all in so we get back to some level of normality.

    It is embarrassing to hear some of the rumours floating around town that a couple of post houses (you know who you are and so do we) are calling agencies to say “we will do the job for whatever budget you can flick us” for Christ sake what sort of a business model is that!!

    It is about time we all stood up and started to act like a bunch of professionals. I do not know of any other industry that is constantly screwed over like we are. Enough is enough.

    This week is a moment in history for the Australian post production industry, lets make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

  63. Stewart MacLennan
    31 Aug 12
    5:43 am

  64. As someone who once at GMD, employed many of the super talented folk at Fuel VFX and had been lucky enough to had been the first chairman of its Board of Management I’m extremely disappointed to hear this news. I really hope a way out and to greater success can be found. I’ve been reading everyone’s messages and observations from afar (in Holland at te moment) with great interest. The challenges as others have well said, are that in an open market the client will always select the company who can do the best job and be the one they can most effectively communicate with, but price will always also be a key factor. And if others can match you on the first two, you have little choice but to squeeze your margin that little bit further. A further slip in the value of the A$ and you can end up subsiding Hollywood without the opportunity to be rewarded if the project is a success. Now my brother is a farmer and for 20 or more years, competition, lack of demand and dreadful seasons – drought, have made his business a heartbreaking one of losses year after year. Farmers have long said they deserve the nation’s support, but no one listens. Why should we subsidise people producing something for which there is no viable market, no matter how hard they work, And my brother and his son work 12 or more hours a day, seven days a week all year round. The parallels for the post-production industry to me are these. Eventually the seasons do turn, from bad to good. Tough markets sort out the stronger players and with a lack of competition and stronger demand, prices the market is forced to pay do increase. What’s happened to the price of roat lamb is a great example of this. And finally adding value to a raw product can make the success or failure difference. In agriculture it might be turning milk into a wonderful cheese, grapes into a premium wine or wool into a lovely fabric. Companies who use their skills in digital design and animation into content; TV, film or games might succeed where others in fee for service struggle. But to do this, they need to be just as good at storytelling, marketing and deal brokering as they are at everything else. Otherwise just like in farming, if you are in the wrong market at the wrong time its going to be very, very hard, no matter how hard you work or how good your product; animation, or agricultural product alike.

  65. Dave Kelly
    3 Sep 12
    9:16 am

  66. Wow. What a week.

    I just wanted to write a quick note of thanks for the overwhelming support we have received from our clients, colleagues, team, family and friends from near and far. I can assure you that everyone at Fuel appreciates the kind messages, phone calls and chocolates!

    A press release alone can’t convey the full picture, and as I’ve said to many of you, I encourage people to call me for a more detailed update on where things are at. We do expect a positive outcome to this situation and hope to share some good news very soon.

    In the meantime, thanks once again. Over the last 12 years, many people have been involved in helping to build this company from a team of 5 to one of the great VFX and post houses, and we believe we still have a lot to give.



  67. Jason Nealon
    3 Sep 12
    8:40 pm

  68. Nice words Dave and good luck to all involved. Its a rough ride ahead but if anyone can get through it… you guys can (get creative!)

  69. Michael Harrison
    17 Sep 12
    8:43 pm

  70. Good luck to all the guys involved at Fuel. I know some of you from old GMD days, so keeping my fingers crossed that there’s a solution coming.

  71. Mike Tosetto
    26 Sep 12
    1:02 pm

  72. Really sad news for such a great studio full of talent. One of my old 3D teachers worked at Fuel for many years so this news really hit home.

    I hope they can stay afloat and continue doing the awesome work they’re renowned for.