In the dynamic realm of visual storytelling, Mass FX Media stands as a beacon of innovation and creativity. Comprising a dedicated team of motion design and visual effects specialists, Mass FX Media thrives at the exhilarating intersection of animation and non-fiction.
With a background rooted in the world of documentary filmmaking, this collective creative minds possesses an extraordinary ability to tackle diverse challenges while impeccably representing truth, emotion, and design. Mass FX Media is throwing out today's post-pandemic WFH norm by doubling down on physical office space, and is poised to bring more film/post/VFX work to Colorado. We spoke to Matt and Shawna Schultz, co-founders of Mass FX Media, exclusively to learn more.
PH: Can you share a bit about Mass FX Media?
Matt and Shawna Schultz: We are Matt and Shawna Schultz, the husband-and-wife team that co-founded Mass FX back in 2011. Our backgrounds are in documentary film, and we have the unique skill set of motion design and visual effects. As we’ve grown our company, we have paired those two passions together and now serve documentary films, series and brands by providing authentic storytelling and compelling visuals.
PH: How long has Mass FX Media been around, and what types of projects are you known for?
Matt and Shawna Schultz: Mass FX has been in business for 12 years, and we are most well-known for the motion design packages on high-profile documentary projects, including “The Social Dilemma” (Netflix), “Chasing Coral” (Netflix), “Q: Into the Storm” (Max), “Friends: The Reunion” (Max) and “The Jewel Thief” (Hulu).
We also have the pleasure of partnering with large technology, product and sportswear brands to help tell their companies’ stories and present their products with striking visuals.
PH: Can you dive deeper into some of your animation/visual effects work for documentaries and direct-to-brand motion design projects?
Matt and Shawna Schultz: One of our most notable projects was the graphics package for “The Social Dilemma.” So many aspects of that film were a new and exciting challenge. We believed in the message and the good it would do in the world, and we had so much trust from the producers and director to own the creative lift of the graphics package that we felt an immense amount of pressure to perform better than we ever have.
We were given the challenge of creating an entirely new social media platform that was unlike anything out there, but echoed the truth of what the major platforms and tech companies were doing. We needed to come up with a unique look, design, function and motion vocabulary that would be used and scaled for every scene requiring the faux user interface overlays in the film.
We also had the challenge of coming up with a separate look and feel for the interview portions of the film, which the director wanted to differentiate in design. Matt, as creative director, was able to approach them with two different design languages and equip the team with templates that scaled the production to deliver over 100 shots for the show.
Then, there was the challenge of the visual effects. After getting to imagine an entirely new world where the algorithms lived and operated, we worked with the set designers to mimic their physical sets and connect out to our fully CG world. It was a blast, but also one of the most challenging projects our team has tackled.
PH: Can you talk about the decision to double down on physical office space?
Matt and Shawna Schultz: We believe that the work we create and the work we consume is best shared in the same space with others. The nature of film is a shared experience -- to be in the same room, looking at the same screen, hearing the same sound altogether at once -- and we wanted to embrace that as creators. The creative process is a team sport, and building a functional and comfortable space allows us to foster collaboration and streamline internal reviews and brainstorming sessions. We also value mentorship, and being in-office allows all of our staff members to look over shoulders, share tips and inspire each other as we grow as a team. You never know when creative inspiration will strike, and great ideas aren’t limited to the top of a studio’s hierarchy. Being together means we can tap into the creative potential of everyone on our team and grow as professionals. We also believe it’s healthier for your soul to be with other people, and nerding-out on things you love is a great way to feed those connections.
Additionally, we’ve found that clients and other smaller shops and freelancers have gone remote, and they really value being able to come together for big moments on projects, and we can serve the Colorado creative community with a space that facilitates that. We are happy to share what we’ve built for others to have a space to do their best work and host their clients. We’ve designed the space specifically for rentals in our front lobby for meetings and events. The theater provides a calibrated environment for Dolby Atmos mixing and HDR color correction. Our color suite has been designed for artist and client comfort during supervised sessions. We also have additional edit bays available for teams and filmmakers needing space and a short-term media storage without needing to build this infrastructure for a single project.
PH: How are you bringing more film/post/VFX work to Colorado? What does the job landscape look like right now for these types of roles?
Matt and Shawna Schultz: We are Colorado kids through and through. We love living on the front range and we love helping grow the Colorado film industry. We decided to follow our dreams and passion for doing work at this level and committed to building it here. There are amazing pockets of top-notch talent here in Colorado, and unfortunately many of them need to travel out of state for work. We’re actually teaming up with other creative firms and local filmmakers with a 5-year plan to encourage growth for our industry right here in the state of Colorado. It starts with infrastructure like this, and companies like ours who create the jobs, then more and more talent can stay here and still do their best work.
We hope other studios will follow suit and join us in the pursuit to grow our amazing group of talent while enjoying the culture and environment that Colorado has to offer. We’re just a chill group of people who are very good at what we do, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Life’s too short to work with difficult people and not have mountains out your window.
PH: How do you envision the production industry evolving over the next few years?
Matt and Shawna Schultz: We’re happy to report that we’re leading the charge to grow our industry here. We believe post-production is a great way to grow what Colorado has to offer because so much of it can be done remotely for the coasts and other production hubs, but we are also excited by the news that other studios are looking at building studios and a virtual production stage that could help production grow during the times of year that snow makes the summer shoots more difficult. We hate seeing films that are based in Colorado being shot in California or Canada. The talent is here; we just need to connect the silos and build up our infrastructure, and we’ll be irresistible.
PH: What's in store for Mass FX Media?
Matt and Shawna Schultz: For us, we absolutely love partnering with large brands to unify their videos and answer their needs with our creative capabilities. As a video agency that knows the authentic language of documentary storytelling, we provide a different approach to brand video storytelling—whether it’s scripted or fully animated.
And on the film side, coming alongside filmmakers to help them visualize the invisible, fill in the story holes and elevate the look of the piece is a role we adore. Working on five-to-eight films or series a year is a true honor in so many ways, and we can’t wait to see what the next projects have in store.