Raging fires, planets comprised of lemons and unspeakable creatures from the depths of the underworld are all made a reality by Dylan Fuimo.
The Montclair State University sophomore has become something of a celebrity among fellow film students. Fuimo, a 20-year-old film and television major, has been making a buzz with their proficiency in visual effects (VFX).
For those unaware, VFX is the process of digitally manipulating images for film. The use of green screens and computer-generated imagery (CGI) are both under the umbrella of VFX.
The work of a visual effects artist is one of dedication and endurance, often taking weeks or months to create a shot that only appears for a minute or less. Recently the desire for VFX artists in the film industry has ballooned, in part due to visual spectacles like “Avatar” and Marvel films dominating the box office.
A report by the group Vantage Market Research found that “The global VFX Market was valued at USD 26.3 billion in 2021 and is all set to surpass USD 48.9 billion by 2028,” an almost two-fold increase to the industry.
Of Fuimo’s staggering 167 published videos, over 100 of them include some degree of VFX work. Yet if you would have told them four years ago that this was their passion, they would’ve thought you were sorely mistaken.
“Originally I wanted to go to college for fashion,” Fuimo said. “I had a bunch of ideas, shoes you could swap out the soles for and other things, and those [clothing] ideas made me want to go into fashion. But then when I was touring Montclair [State], I went to a little seminar about film, and when I got out I just turned around, looked my parents in the eyes and said, ‘I don’t want to do fashion. I want to do filmmaking.’”
After the revelation, Fuimo began regularly attending their high school’s audiovisual (A.V.) club and taking all the film classes offered. Eventually, the date for the A.V. club’s film festival grew close, and Fuimo was hungry to participate.
Driven and determined, Fuimo set to work creating their VFX.
“A lot of it was trial and error,” Fuimo said. “Watching tutorials here and there, then taking the principles for that tutorial and applying it to a bunch of aspects.”
It was love at first sight, and soon they found themself spiraling down the VFX rabbit hole.
This enthusiasm continued up to college when Fuimo could finally join the school that sent them on the path of film. As they became acclimated to the School of Communication and Media, their VFX prowess became noticed by fellow students.
“I’ll just approach [friends], set my computer down, turn it around and go ‘I have a new video to show you,'” Fuimo said. “Because of that, my friends are always recommending me to different people for their films. They’re like, ‘I know this guy, they’re really good at VFX. Here’s their information, message them, ask them about it.’”
Tom Coraggio, a senior filmmaking major who frequently collaborates with Fuimo, described their work as “phenomenal.”
“I’ve seen a variety of VFX they’ve created including time travel, magic card tricks and even TV show [character] animations,” Coraggio said. “Not only does their work show their prowess, but they can create the footage at an extremely fast rate.”
Montclair State film professor Chris Arnold, who taught Fuimo in the Filmmaking I course, commented on their work as well.
“[It is] probably the most impressive visual effects I have ever seen from an undergraduate,” Arnold said. “No doubt Fuimo has a bright future in the industry.”
Fuimo doesn’t intend to just stop at student films though, as they’re currently involved in paid collaborations and even contracted on a music video.
“The way I think of VFX is this: what I get is a hamburger, bun, patty, bun,” Fuimo said, stacking up their hands. “That’s everyone else’s work: the filming, casting, scoring. What I do is I add the cheese, tomato, lettuce, mayo and ketchup. You can have a regular burger, but it’s not going to be as good.”