This is going to be a difficult post for me to write, but I wanted to do it - it seems wrong for recent events to go by without me talking about it, mostly just to pay tribute to a great man.
I remember a few months ago, I was sat in a meeting with Crash Taylor in his studio, and I had a bit of a cold. Anyone who knows me knows that I get sick a lot, so much so that I don't always get sympathy for it anymore. I don't even give myself sympathy. But Carl Cropley arrived at the studio to join in the meeting - and to show us the first sample VFX he'd done for Jar of Angels. I instantly said, "Hi Carl, how are you?" to which he didn't reply, but said, "more importantly, how are you?" Because he'd seen that I was sick on Facebook, and that's the kind of selfless guy that Carl was.
Literally, no one could ever speak of Carl without adding the prefix of 'nice guy'. Any time I put up a new Facebook status, or shared a link to a trailer on Youtube, he would like it and comment on it straight away. He did this for everyone that he worked with, and hardly ever asked us to promote his work in return.
We first met Carl on the Wasteland trailer shoot. It was very last minute, and we were in need of somebody to play a Zombie extra. Chrissa Wadlow (then Maund) said, "someone called Carl Cropley's been leaving us messages on Facebook, saying he wants to work for us. Let's try giving him a ring." So I rang him, he dropped everything and came down from Nottingham there and then. He was so good he even played two Zombies. We covered him in blood and put a prosphetic arrow in his eye (I did accidentally poke said eye a bit) and he didn't complain once.
Here is Carl, as two Zombies, the day that he first came into our lives:
While on set with us, Carl explained that he also did visual FX, under the company name 'Full of Squares', and he sent Tom Wadlow some samples of his work. It was great stuff at bargain prices, so Light Films immediately employed him to do VFX on a lot of their corporate work, and I started recommending him to lots of people I knew. Since then he's designed the logo for a film company I know called Fake Plastic Videos, and - as I said before - I got him work on Jar of Angels, not only tackling our VFX but also as an extra, playing a member of the paparazzi. He even came on location with us during the scene in the woods where Myles finally confronts Wilson. Carl came down to guide us with the VFX that we would need but he also ended up helping out in general, and he got along with everybody really well.
|Some of Carl's VFX work for Jar of Angels, dir. Crash Taylor 2011|
Here is the Jar of Angels trailer, featuring Carl's VFX work. But you won't spot where it is, because it blends so well into our existing footage:
That was the last time I ever heard from him. It wasn't until a couple of days ago that we heard Carl had in fact died.
The Midlands creative scene is in mourning. Every good film crew feels like a family, particularly on independant productions where everyone is so tight-nit and helps each other out. If film crews are families, then it feels as though we have lost an uncle. I can't even begin to imagine how his real family is feeling right now, and my heart goes out to them.
Sometimes, people don't have to come into your life for a very long time, or make a huge noise about themselves, to leave a lasting impact. I didn't get to know Carl very well outside of his work, and I'm not a religious person, but I hope that somehow he's seen all the kind messages and sadness left for him online, and I hope he knows how much we all cared about him.
I have one thing from Carl that I can carry with me on my journeys to remember him by. A few months ago, during the time when I was pretty down about the slow pace of Ashes' funding campaign, Carl sent me a little surprise to cheer me up. He'd made me my very own Triskelle Pictures ident - an animatic of my logo to go before all my films. I hadn't asked him to do it or told him what kind of style I would like for the logo, but he nailed it. Perhaps that shows how well Carl could listen to people's likes and tastes. It is now the last work that Carl will have ever done for me; I may never be able to get hold of his hi-rez copy now, but I don't really care. I'm proud to have it on every one of my films all the same:
And now I suppose there's only one thing left to do, simply because any words I write will not be full tribute to Carl. The only way to truly remember him is through his work, (he was more passionate about pixels than anyone I know), so here is the Full of Squares portfolio, including his samples for Jar of Angels and Ashes:
Goodbye, Carl Cropley. I hope you know how much you meant to all of us.