The Flemish Masters were centre-stage at TV Drama Vision, the international conference and marketplace for drama series at the Göteborg Film Festival in January. Speakers from across the sector reflected on the region’s rich creative talent, and outlined the contribution Flanders can make to international co-productions, both on-screen and behind the scenes.

Jules Debrock, the managing director of Flow Postproduction, told the audience in Göteborg about his company’s work in visual postproduction, from on-set dailies to visual effects, animation and title design, and on through to delivery of the final product to cinemas and streamers.

Our focus now is more and more in visual effects, because this is an attractive area for co-productions.

Jules Debrock, Flow Postproduction

Demystifying VFX

This is where Flow feels it can play a useful role demystifying the technology and helping their partners get the most out of what VFX can offer. “Producers and directors are sometimes a little scared of visual effects, and they see it as a big drain on their budgets,” he said. So, Flow tries to change that perception, advising them on what will work for them.

“We are bombarded with visual effects in all these superhero movies, which sometimes go over the top,” Debrock said. “We try to find a balance that adds the necessary production values without going over the top, and without involving big budgets.”

VFX can also save money, for example replacing messy physical blood effects that require wardrobe and sets to be cleaned after each take. “Now these things are produced entirely through visual effects. It’s just a couple of clicks and it is done.”

Wide range

Flow works on a wide range of project budgets, from €1,000 short films up to international series with budgets over €1 million. These projects are often, but not always, supported by the Belgian Tax Shelter.

We also have US projects coming to us without Tax Shelter money attached, just because they like working with us.

Jules Debrock, managing director Flow

The financial aspects of each project are handled by an in-house producer, while a visual effects supervisor deals with the work on-screen. “We try to decouple the two roles, so that the visual effects supervisor can concentrate on the artistic goals of the project and not have the money always in the back of their minds,” Debrock said.

Flow has also worked a lot with on Nordic co-productions, such as Black Sands, Fractures, and Summerlight, and then comes the night. “It’s always a joy to work together, because they have a high-end focus and they are very professional,” Debrock said. “And while it’s a different culture, we always connect quite well.”