The Future of Hotspring: Ben Stallard talks about his ambitions for the company15.9.21
We sat down with Ben Stallard, newly appointed Managing Director for Media and Entertainment, to get to know a bit more about the person behind the LinkedIn profile, how he ended up at Hotspring and what’s next for the business.
Tell us a little about you and how you got started in VFX production?
I have spent 25 years in VFX, producing all sorts of Commercials, music videos, title sequences, and motion graphics projects. In my early career, I started as a runner in Soho at MPC, then progressed through scheduling to Production. I then went on to join The Mill in 2008 and became Head of Production in 2010 before taking on a group role in 2016. I left The Mill as Group Production Director and was on the executive board. I am very proud of the companies I have worked for and the talented people I have worked with.
With 25 years of experience in the VFX industry, how have you seen the industry change across the places you’ve worked at?
In the mid-1990s when I had just started working at MPC as a runner on Noel street, it all looked very different. It was the era of big name Directors, huge Productions with budgets to match. Post-production was done by men in white coats, the people at the end of the line who made it happen. The “operators” were the ones driving the kit and the production teams were all about client service.
That’s changed with ‘Operators’ now being rightly called artists and Production being much more involved in the projects from start to finish. This is all thanks to technology, we [producers] can do and add so much to the content now. On the down side, budgets get squeezed continually, so you need to make them go further. Tech got faster and a little cheaper which helps. However, the VFX financial model stayed very much legacy-based, especially when compared to how far the tech has gone since then.
How did you get introduced to the Hotspring Team?
When I left The Mill in 2018 I set up ArtclubVFX to service work from the UK and US in India. Soon after the pandemic started I linked up with Jon and Varun, founders of TraceVFX, once the largest VFX outsource company in India – which they had sold to Technicolor – and they asked me to join them at their startup, Hotspring. It’s the perfect blend of what I have done in the past with what I believe the future in VFX will look like, so I said yes.
Can you tell us about your role at Hotspring?
It was a startup with 5 employees when I joined, so it was all hands on deck. Our focus was all about sales/growth. Everyone did everything. The initial role was doing demos, getting people interested, and onboarding. As we grew, my role also shifted. Moving into other industries, we had to consolidate the M&E area of business which is what my role is now, while the others can expand into other industries. I focus on the core engine of business, VFX across advertising, film, and tv.
What have you learned about Hotspring since starting?
I uncovered this entrepreneurial drive I didn’t know I had after working in a corporate environment for so long. When it is imperative to make the business work, it’s a great motivator. You have to fight for it because no one is coming to rescue you if it doesn’t work. It was a new, refreshing way of working and I’ve been really enjoying it. Although the platform is new, I genuinely believe it adds value and an improvement compared to what was there before.
What’s next for Hotspring?
We have ambitious plans; we’re going to keep growing in VFX and expand to other industries. Our short-term goal is to move into adjacent industries like architectural and gaming asset creation. We can scale but are committed to providing the highest quality we can across everything we do. The whole team is focused on providing quality work for our clients, empowering artists globally, and making the process of getting work done easy, fast, and cost-effective.
Congratulations once again on the promotion, Ben!