/News 31.08.23


Aussie horror feature Talk To Me is currently lighting up cinema screens around the world, and clocking up some serious numbers at the global box office as the film blows away all expectations.

Directed by twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou, and produced by Sam Jennings and Kristina Ceyton from Causeway Films, Talk to Me was filmed entirely in Adelaide, South Australia. Ausfilm Platinum member KOJO was both the post production and VFX studio behind the film, having joined early on and taken an equity investment position in the project.

KOJO and the film’s producer Causeway Films have partnered numerous times over the past decade, since first collaborating on Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook in 2014. Other projects KOJO has completed for Causeway Films include The Nightingale, You Won’t Alone and Of An Age.

KOJO’s Executive Director of Post & VFX, Marty Pepper led the KOJO team on Talk To Me and set about building a deep creative relationship with first time feature filmmakers Danny and Michael, seeking to create an immersive world that absorbed the audience deeper into the film through the colour palette and strategic use of visual effects.

Marty Pepper led the KOJO team on Talk To Me

“A huge part of my career has been spent working with new creative talent, I love their enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge. It’s always a real high energy collaboration and working with Danny and Michael was no exception. Their twin energy and filmmaking drive was off the charts, combining this with the creative strength of producer Sam Jennings and cinematographer Aaron McLisky ACS, we were able to fully explore the world of colour and VFX on Talk To Me.”

Marty Pepper, Executive Director of Post & VFX, KOJO
Possession scenes required heavy VFX work by KOJO

With over one hundred DI colour credits, Pepper has honed his craft and extensive knowledge of colour science over the past 40 years to become one of Australia’s most respected practitioners.

KOJO’s team explained their main focus of the colour methodology was to “keep it authentic” – aiming for the look to be “not too stylised, but in keeping with the genre”.

The camera looks were created in pre-production by Pepper and McLisky, taking into account all design and costume elements. Care was taken to allow plenty of control when shooting exterior day or night, which had to be balanced against the film’s dark interior scenes.

While initially working with a fairly standard colour grade (Rec 709), for fun a Kodak 2383 derived print look was created by Pepper, which very quickly became the creators’ preferred look for the film. The final graded movie ended very close to that look Pepper had created months earlier, but with greater narrative finesse.

“Marty [Pepper] is a true filmmaker, the quality of his work as both the VFX Supervisor and Colourist on Talk To Me was an essential part of the outcome. Not only is his technical expertise second to none, he creatively collaborates at every stage of production, and goes above and beyond to deliver at a level that surpasses expectations. Marty is an exceptional partner to Causeway Films and the directors we work with.”

Sam Jennings, Producer Causeway Films

The KOJO team say they found Danny and Michael made the process of planning the film’s VFX easy, thanks to the directing duo’s experience creating impressive effects on tight budgets for previous shortform projects.

Starting in pre-production, each VFX scene was carefully planned between different departments to make sure each beat was covered, including many scenes requiring invisible digital augmentation of stunts and prosthetics, alongside the more VFX-heavy horror scenes.

The attention to detail appears to have paid off for KOJO, with the film being picked up by A24 at Sundance and going on to be a critical and commercial hit globally. So much so, a sequel has already been announced.

“I’m truly blown away by the public response,” says Marty Pepper. “I’m also incredibly proud of the recognition our KOJO team is receiving for our creative contribution to the project from filmmakers and studios globally.”