The Molecule provides VFX for OWN’s Highly Anticipated New Series ”Queen Sugar”
The Molecule’s Senior VFX Producer Lauren Ellis describes her experience on set for OWN’s upcoming series “Queen Sugar” as diverse, supportive, and high caliber.
Based on the book of the same name, “Queen Sugar” focuses on three siblings who manage their family’s sugar cane farm in Louisiana after a family crisis bands them together. Executive Producer, Writer, and Director Ava DuVernay has been in production on the series throughout this year. The Molecule has been working on the Visual Effects and Motion Graphics in our LA studio since April.
“It has been my most encouraging and growth-inducing experience to date for me as a VFX Producer – in the best possible way! The bar is high but you’re not alone in making sure you meet it. The honesty and transparency is refreshing and there is no covering of your behind only. Everyone covers everyone.”
One of the most unique elements of DuVernay’s hand-selected crew is that the group is mostly female. “Statistics on women in film and television are grim,” notes Lauren. “By bringing in an impressive list of direct-hers (as she calls them), Ava is not only showing that women are capable of taking on these roles but that it’s not very hard to find them!”
“It’s an all-female directing team for a show on the only African-American Woman-owned network,” Lauren continues. “Her inclusive message is resounding through the industry.”
Although “Queen Sugar” seems like a show that wouldn’t need extensive VFX work, Lauren notes that there are many kinds of visual effects – not all are of the Jurassic World variety. “The most common effects are the ones you don’t notice: monitor burn-ins, removal of environmental elements, split screens, etc.” She continues, “Nearly everything we watch every day has been touched by a VFX team.”
Throughout the production, Lauren advised the production team on how to prevent VFX work later on. She recalls, “they shot in this gorgeous home in the hills but there were endless amounts of reflections. Calling out where the crew should move and how they should blend in helped to keep costs down.”
This is why a skilled VFX producer is an integral part of the production team; little fixes can add up to a large chunk of a team’s budget in post, but a VFX producer can help prevent those overlooked aspects. The result is that more of a team’s budget can be put toward creative aspects of the show instead of fixing tiny imperfections like crew reflections.
“Queen Sugar” is slated to make its debut on OWN in a two-night event on September 6 and 7. As anticipation continues to build ahead of the premiere, Lauren offers a couple key reasons why you should mark your calendar: “Tune in to support history and, of course, a fantastic story. Tune in to make sure this isn’t the only opportunity we’re given to support female voices.”