Union’s Beautifully Subtle VFX for Martin McDonagh’s Award Winning The Banshees of Inisherin
Following on from their work with Martin McDonagh on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the Union team were reunited with the acclaimed writer/director for his latest film, The Banshees of Inisherin, produced by Blueprint Pictures for Searchlight and Film 4.
This melancholy tale is a beautiful balance of both tragedy and comedy set in the remotest of 1920s Ireland. Reuniting Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, the two stars of McDonagh’s 2008 debut feature In Bruges, it’s an end-of-friendship breakup movie that swings between the hilarious, the horrifying and the heartbreaking.
The multi award winning film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four BAFTAs, including Outstanding British Film and Original Screenplay. It was awarded three Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay, premiered at TIFF and was selected for the BFI London Film Festival.
The Banshees of Inisherin follows two men who’ve been friends for years and are going through a crisis that results in missing fingers. This along with 1920s digital matte painting environment work, CG objects and elements work required the Union team to create technically challenging and complex VFX.
As sole VFX vendor on this feature Union collaborated closely with McDonagh with Simon Hughes as their VFX Supervisor. Union came on board very early in the process and was on set for the shoot in Ireland in the middle of the pandemic.
The team had their work cut out with the missing finger VFX. Hughes explained, "The biggest challenge was creating the CG stumps of Brendan Gleeson’s fingers alongside the intricate movement and animation required. We had to make a CG version of the hand and work on the many complex hand movements involved to make it look realistic”.
Other visual effects included CG fire, an impressive lightning storm, a CG church bell and the beautiful period matte painting that establishes the remote landscape in the film's opening scene.
Hughes went on to say. “The show doubled in size from our original award and had a very tight turnaround time, but working with a seasoned director like Martin, who we already had such a great relationship with, meant it was a total pleasure from beginning to end. The VFX are invisible, as they should be and the film itself is a masterpiece.”
Director, Martin McDonagh commented: "I've worked with Union on two films now, Three Billboards and The Banshees of Inisherin, and have always found them to be brilliantly artistic collaborators, and a lot of fun!”