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Published on March 29th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Now The Mill Calls It A Day

Following on from the recent news that Mercury FX are to close, VFX legends The Mill have announced their withdrawal from the TV market, citing a lack of a new Doctor Who commission among their reasons.


The planned closure will result in the loss of 25 jobs including Mill TV’s managing director and executive producer Will Cohen as the unit switches focus away from drama such as Doctor Who and Merlin towards advertising.

The Mill CEO Robin Shenfield:

“While TV vfx have been less volatile than film – last year the US studios spent far less than they did in 2011– TV also seems to have caught the bug and there have been less of those high end commissions and repeat series. We have reluctantly decided that this is a business we do not want to play in any more, although I am immensely proud of what we have achieved.”

On the matter of redundancies, Shenfield said:

“We hope we will be able to re-deploy a number of those people elsewhere in the group and are looking very hard at that.”

The most interesting quote is possible Shenfield’s observation that The Mill is not “negative about film and TV vfx in the UK. I think the work will return in both film and TV. We are just at a point of haitus.” Given other closures in the industry, there is plenty of cause to be negative. Televisual reports that along with Mill TV and Mercury FX’s closure, MPC, Framestore and Double Negative have downsized recently.

Framestore CEO William Sargent has painted a negative picture of the industry.

“We have seven pictures booked over the next 15 months in New York, London and Montreal, but even when supply of VFX work comes back, the demand is going to remain ‘lumpy’ – we have to do more work over a shorter period of time which means taking on more staff for shorter periods. I don’t’ feel that situation is going to go away.”

Bad news all round, we feel.


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

5 Responses to Now The Mill Calls It A Day

  1. Sad to read this. I had no idea the VFX industry was hurting so badly until that one guy got cut off with the Jaws theme during his Oscar speech when he plead for Hollywood’s help on behalf of his company.

    So who’s doing Who’s visual effects now? I highly doubt the production crew are keen to revert back to the wobbly backdrops of yesteryear.

    • Apparently it is a very competitive industry,with prices driven down considerably over the past five years…

      Shouldn’t be tough for BBC Wales to find a new contractor.

  2. avatar Bob James says:

    Hasn’t Millennium FX been doing the CGI throughout this latest run, anyway?

    • avatar Trinity* says:

      No they do some of the Special (physical) effects. Mill.Tv does the Visual (CGI) effects

  3. avatar Bradondo says:

    The VFX industry has been driven into the ground by Hollywood studios demanding more for less then sometimes not even paying for what they’ve gotten. It’s not merely a matter of competition driving prices down–the demand should have balnced thay out. It’s primarily because of predatory practices by the studios. It’s a classic David vs. Goliath situation. The studios can demand whatever price they like, then they take their time paying the bills until the VFX companies go under. The VFX companies wouldn’t have the resources to fight for payment in court against the the studios anyway, but when they’re being deliberately cash starved they often have no choice but rto shut down. That said the BBC does pay its bills, but a company like The Mill can’t stay in business doing just TV, especially with shows reducing their VFX budgets due to global financial issues. The BBC might be better off putting some of the these former Mill people on the payroll and doing this stuff in house.

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