Over the summer, DGC National, in partnership with DGC Ontario, PIXOMONDO, and William F. Whites, hosted the Virtual Production Workshop for DGC Directors. 

Eight DGC Directors participated in this workshop to bring their short film pitches to life: Nika Belianina, Nikki Cole, Charles Uwagbai, Dale Hildebrand, Simone Stock, Stephanie Morgenstern, Alison Reid, and Sid Zanforlin. Observation of the workshop was open to any Member who wanted to experience the magic of Virtual Production in action. 

Director participants were given a week of prep, a day of joint prep, two hours of shoot time, and a full, professional crew with wardrobe, makeup, and props to shoot their short film against one of three different environment backdrops available on Pixomondo’s Volume Wall: a Parisian skyline, a snowy landscape, and an ancient castle. 

“We want to be at the forefront of the technology this industry offers,” says DGC Ontario Director Member and Directors Caucus Representative Lisa Rose Snow, who was also on the jury of DGC Ontario Directors who selected the 8 films. “Our goal is for Members to be confident enough to tackle this new technology and get hands-on, world-class training and experience.”

Below, the participating Directors share their experiences, what they valued most about the workshop, and where they see Virtual Production going next.

All photos: credit to Elaine Fancy


Paradox – Directed by Nika Belianina
Catherine in Love – Directed by Nikila Cole
The Hawk – Directed by Alison Reid
The Heart of Ravenscrag – Directed by Dale Hildebrand
Alone – Directed by Charles Uwagbai
Moments Away – Directed by Stephanie Morgenstern
Meta Mom – Simone Stock
Black Paris – Sid Zanforlin

Director Dale Hildebrand on the set of his short film The Heart of Ravenscrag

Director Dale Hildebrand: “There was a great sense of camaraderie shared amongst all the partners and unions. And as Directors, very seldom, if ever, do we get to truly cheer each other on – support each other, learn from each other, problem-solve together, and strive for the betterment of ourselves and our industry. What an incredible initiative and group of people – I am eternally grateful.”

Director Nikila Cole on the set of her short film Catherine in Love

Director Nikila Cole: “This truly was a unique opportunity to learn an entirely new language and skill set in the company of so much amazing talent at all levels. It was a wild and crazy ride that I’ll never forget, and am so deeply grateful to have been part of the inaugural ‘Unicorn’ Team, thanks to you.”

Director Sid Zanforlin on the set of his short film Black Paris

Director Sid Zanforlin: “It truly was a very special workshop which will stay with me for a very long time. New skills, new friends and new inspiration that will only lead to great projects.”

Director Stephanie Morgenstern on the set of her short film Moments Away

Director Stephanie Morgenstern: “What a revolutionary time it’s been, seeing how this virtual world works.  And it feels like we’re just getting started! On top of all the ‘work’ learning, it’s been a privilege to get to meet and struggle in the trenches alongside seven other directors. We felt a serious bond of creativity and solidarity that’s going to last far beyond this workshop.”

Director Alison Reid on the set of her short film The Hawk

Director Alison Reid: “It was a real privilege to be one of the recipients of such vast resources – both in terms of the technology and also in terms of the massive efforts and expertise so many poured into this program. The DGC has always had fantastic initiatives, and this one really took that to a whole new level!”

Director Nika Belianina on the set of her short film Paradox

Director Nika Belianina: What an honour it was to work with this cutting-edge technology alongside other Directors with very distinct voices and styles! And to have a top-notch union crew to help us make eight movies in two days is the icing on the cake. I learned so much during the last few weeks and strongly believe that workshops like this are paramount to the success of our Directors and the industry as a whole. Not only are we learning the newest technology and making ourselves more employable, but we’re also building a stronger cross-departmental/union community, thanks to the incredible work of Kim and Kent Robinson of Propagation Media and Production Designer/Producer Matt Middleton. I hope more opportunities like this will be available to our DGC Directors in the future, now that we were super lucky to have paved the road for it.

The volume wall in action.

For even more features on Virtual Production, check out our Wider Lens podcast episode Fix it in Prep: Previsualizing With Virtual Production and our interview roundtable with some of the DGC Ontario Creatives behind the amazing, VP-heavy Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

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