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Visual effects company gets BGF funding to expand studio

Investment news
21.06.2017.

BGF has invested an initial £2m in Milk Visual Effects, an Oscar winning independent visual effects (VFX) company which creates innovative and complex visual effects for high-end television and feature films. Milk will use the funding to expand its studios; invest in new technical equipment and R&D and hire the best industry talent, significantly increasing its capacity to work with the world’s leading feature film, high-end television and digital content producers such as Warner Bros., the BBC and Netflix.

Milk was founded by five VFX supervisors and producers in 2013, including current CEO and visual effects industry leader Will Cohen, and now employs 150 staff across its sites in London and Cardiff. The studio has won multiple awards for its creative work, including three consecutive BAFTA Television Craft awards for Doctor Who (in 2014 and 2015) and critically acclaimed BBC drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (in 2016). Milk won an Emmy in 2016 for work on the BBC drama Sherlock, and in 2016 co-founder Sara Bennett won an Oscar for her work on the film Ex-Machina in the Best VFX Category.

Other recent highlights for Milk include work on the film Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (2016) where it created a number of visual effects sequences for Warner Bros’. Milk’s credits also include Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise and Free Fire; The Martian (20th Century Fox); The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Lionsgate/Summit); Poltergeist (Fox/MGM); Everest (Universal); Brett Ratner’s Hercules (Paramount MGM); Dracula Untold (Universal); 47 Ronin (Universal), Thunderbirds Are Go (ITV), and The Last Dragonslayer (Sky).

The investment will assist Milk to accelerate its ambitious growth plan and to continue the development of its innovative work streams for the production of visual effects and formats.

Milk is currently in production on projects including Alex Garland’s forthcoming feature Annihilation (DNA/Paramount), Kingsman 2 (Lionsgate), and Electric Dreams (Channel 4/Left Bank/Sony) and Doctor Who series 10 for television.

The business is well placed to take advantage of the recent increase in demand for high quality creative content being driven by companies such as Amazon and Netflix.

In addition to the funding, BGF also introduced Will Cohen and his management team to Ivan Dunleavy, the former CEO of Pinewood Group, who will join Milk VFX as the non-executive chairman. With 17 years’ experience as Pinewood CEO, and successfully managed growth of this iconic filmmaking company, Dunleavy’s experience is a strong match for Milk’s ambition and future growth plans.

BGF in the UK’s most active investor in growing businesses in the UK and Ireland. An established, independent company, BGF has £2.5bn to make long-term equity investments in early-stage, established and listed companies.

Milk’s CEO, Will Cohen, explained: “Our new partnership with BGF and the appointment of Ivan Dunleavy as chairman will help us to deliver the most challenging and creative visual effects work for the global feature film, high end television and emerging digital content markets. We look forward to building on our success over the last four years – which is testament to the dedication and expertise of our team at Milk. It’s a wonderful way to begin our fifth year in business.”

Ivan Dunleavy said: “The team at Milk, led by Will Cohen, has done a fantastic job at building the business and establishing its credentials in the globally competitive VFX marketplace. I look forward to working with them and BGF in realising the next stage of our exciting plan to develop the Milk brand even further, at a time when audiences on all channels and platforms expect quality creative content.”

Gavin Petken, regional director at BGF, added: We are delighted to back Milk in their quest to create an independent visual effects business of scale. Will and the team have an outstanding reputation for delivering innovative, ground breaking visual effects and have cultivated valuable and strategic commercial relationships. They have scaled the business well, and we are excited to see our investment help accelerate their growth even further.” 

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