James Masino, a visual developer and digital matte painter based in New York City, has joined FutureDude Entertainment as Concept Artist, where his role is to develop production paintings for film and television productions including the upcoming feature film Persephone, in pre-production now.
James is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in Animation and Film & Television, and prior to that he earned an associate degree from Madison (Wisconsin) Area Technical College in Animation and Concept Development. James’ work can be found in films, tabletop games, and advertising content. In fact, one of his memorable projects was turning a TV commercial for an SUV that was shot in August into a realistic winter setting.
Jeffrey Morris, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of FutureDude and Director of Perspehone explained James’ role. “The concept art James is creating is critical for Persephone, which is a realistic science fiction thriller being shot on a virtual set. This means James’ art will serve as the blueprint for visual effects designers, costume designers, lighting teams and other professionals who work together to create an environment that doesn’t exist in reality.” He added, “I was impressed with James from our first meeting, and he is playing an important role in bringing the Persephone story to life.”
As Concept Artist, James works in close collaboration with Jeffrey. Their process usually begins with a discussion and sketches. But because Jeffrey and James’ shared vision is to bring reality to science fiction, that means James conducts additional research on the science before creating the art.
“For example, in one of the scenes in Persephone, a spacecraft called an ‘AstroBug’ crashes into a lake that’s frozen,” James explained. “The environment is super cold, but the lander is hot, so there needs to be both steam and ice breaking. Also, the lander has a big beacon that must refract off the cloud layer, and also create a bloom effect on the water.”
To create complex artwork like this he says his animation background is helpful. “It begins with an understanding of how to draw, but you have to make the perspective work perfectly. You need to understand the full composition and the focal lengths — knowing the camera placement always helps me make it more realistic,” he shared.
While James’ artistic abilities and collaborative style make him a great fit for FutureDude Entertainment, his passion and history of activism around climate change make him a perfect one. It was because of his activism that he connected with Anne Marie Gillen, President of Production for FutureDude, through a networking offshoot of The Climate Reality Project, for creatives interested in telling more — and better — stories about climate change. This topic is woven throughout several of Jeffrey Morris’ projects, and it plays a central role in the Persephone story.
Little did James know that a spontaneous desire to network with like-minded creatives who care about the environment would land him a job like this one. “When people see Persephone, it’s going to feel like NASA meets sci-fi, meets an action movie, with a great message about climate change. I’m so excited to see the full project. And as a sci-fi geek and technical geek, I think people will be blown away.”