There's opportunity at every corner in the Great India Bazaar. Charles Darby, among a select few globally who can create matte paintings in a digital format, will agree. A matte painting is a landscape that filmmakers use to replicate a real environment whose construction would not be feasible. Unsurprisingly, then, Darby has played key roles in visual extravaganzas like Titanic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix.
So, what does somebody who has worked on Hollywood blockbusters for 15 years do next? Darby, for one, thought it was time to turn entrepreneur and have his own set-up. And what better place than India, where talent is world-class and priced more competitively than in most developed economies.
In 2007, Darby moved from Los Angeles to Mumbai and set up Eyeqube Studios, in association with Eros International plc, which aims to become a "Hollywood-style" effects hot shop. Other than the availability of talent - Darby has a 200-strong team - there is another big advantage of moving to India. "Decisionmaking is quick, which allows me to focus on the job of creating things," he says. Eyeqube's first project was the film Aladdin, on which 180 employees worked. "Ninety-nine per cent of people in my company are Indian artists, but what is different is the culture we have created," explains Darby.
Darby, who likes his chicken tikkas and dals from Kolkata, does get put off by the traffic and pollution, but that is unlikely to upset his plans for Eyeqube. "I have a life in India and Europe that allows me an opportunity to work on both Western and Indian productions." Lights, camera…