TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT ILM, AND HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN IN THE FILM INDUSTRY.
I’m currently a Visual Effects Producer at ILM London. A Producer’s job is to ensure the project delivers on time and on budget – that’s the definition of the role, but there is so much more to it than that…
My daily routine consists of managing the Artists, Supervisor and Leads, and the rest of the Production Team, along side supporting the Visual Effects Supervisor, making sure he/she has everything they need to do their job. I spend a lot of time sitting in Dailies with the Supervisors, keeping an eye on the feedback and requests that come through from Artists and the various departments. Producing is thinking on your feet and knowing who you need to talk to to get the information you need, and ultimately constantly evolving to make sure all the plates keep spinning.
I have been in the film industry for only 7 years, just now coming into my 8th. I’m not going to shy away from the fact that I have progressed very quickly. I have just tried to be myself throughout and stick closely to my morals. I value hard work, honesty, trust and collaboration. These are the foundations of every project I manage.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN COURSE OF STUDY IN SCHOOL?
I studied Illustration and Animation at Winchester School of Art. I have a very heavy artistic background, and all through school, college and university I had every intention of becoming an illustrator.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GO INTO VISUAL EFFECTS?
As time went on at University I realised my strengths were in organisation and people skills. My now Husband, graduated a year before me and was already working at a Visual Effects Studio in Soho. Although I knew what it was I had no idea what the day to day pipeline consisted of, all i knew was that the VFX artists put the cool giant robots or magic effects into the films. I was very naive. By the time of graduation I had decided I no longer wanted to focus on being an artist, and my husband actually suggested trying out production as a career, as a good fit for my obsession with organisation. A post for a Production Assistant role came up at the same company and I had previously undertaken some work experience at a Post-Production House and quite enjoyed it, so I applied. The interview went really well, I got the job and never looked back.
I accepted very early that it would be a constant learning curve, so I just got stuck in and absorbed the knowledge and advice coming from all around me, and just did the best I could. Before I knew it, 7 years later and I’m producing my own shows. I don’t feel anything has really changed, I still work the same way, except now I have some experience to back me up too.
Sometimes I look back and wonder ‘what if’ I did become an artist, I do miss it. Some people would argue that Production isn’t an artistic role, for the most part it’s not, but I have found that my creative background and intuition has helped me understand the intricate pipelines I have to manage, and also understand the creative demands the Artists and Supervisors are under. I can help steer the ship to ultimately delivering the clients vision and I do feel a swell of satisfaction when I see the beautiful images we create up on the big screen, knowing I helped make them.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING POINT IN YOUR CAREER AND HOW DID YOU RISE ABOVE IT AND PERSEVERE?
The most challenging point of my career was when I had to step a out of the cocoon of safety of my superiors, and start to really think for myself. I suddenly realised as a Producer that a lot was riding on me to deliver the project, everyone was looking to me, and I had to deal with all kinds of problems that I had never faced before, or even imagined I would have to. I tried to deal with the problems head on and didn’t shy away from the challenge, be prepared to make mistakes (but obviously try not to). It sometimes took a lot out of me, energy and emotionally, but I always came out stronger on the other side and I have learned a great deal.
DID YOU HAVE SPECIFIC FEMALE MENTORS OR ROLE MODELS THAT HELPED PUSH YOU FORWARD?
Yes I have had many, I have had the honour of working with some amazing women over the past 7 years, and before that at university, and in my life in general. It’s going to sound really cheesy but my main mentors and role models are in my family, both in my Grandmother and my Mum, they are both extremely hard workers and have achieved a phenomenal amount in their lives so far, with extremely successful careers. I think growing up around strong women has made me who I am today.
In a professional capacity, I have been fortunate enough to work with Ann Podlozny at 2 facilities. Very early on she took me under her wing. Ann is about as strong as you can get, and I still to this day seek out and value her opinions and guidance.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MOTIVATIONAL MANTRA?
‘It will be worth it in the end, look at what you have achieved so far’.
‘it will be fine’
‘it’s nearly over’
HOW DO YOU THINK THE FILM INDUSTRY CAN BETTER ENCOURAGE GIRLS AND WOMEN OF ALL AGES TO GET INVOLVED IN FILMMAKING?
More exposure at a young age, I never knew the film industry was so big when I was at school. I wanted to be an artist but I didn’t think that could extend to working in movies. More school talks, and not just from Supervisors but from Producers, Production was never a job I thought existed and you never really knew about the hundreds of people that work on one Hollywood movie.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN CONSIDERING FILM, AND SPECIFICALLY VISUAL EFFECTS, AS A CAREER CHOICE?
Work hard, it doesn’t matter if you are a male or female, if you are good at your job and show talent and ambition you will succeed. Try and forget about the division in gender, we are lucky enough to be in a world now where the division is reducing, use it to your advantage, women worked hard to get us to this place and we should continue to push for them.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO TAKE HER CAREER TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
Your time will come, even if it feels unfair that others may be moving up around you, it’s always for a reason. Patience, consistency and reliability are extremely valuable assets for an employer, never forget about the role you are currently being paid to do. Continue to work hard, and show them why you should be considered for the next level.
HOW CAN MEN BE BETTER ALLIES TO WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE?
I personally don’t think it comes down to men being allied with women, I think it’s about colleagues being allied with each other no matter what your gender. I feel it is becoming too easy to tie ourselves up in a ‘women v men’ attitude, and the sooner we just see each other as equals the better. If you enter a situation already acting as an equal, which works both ways, you are bypassing a divide which might not have even been there.
I am not ignorant to the fact that sexism still happens in areas of the industry, but bar some potential sub-conscious bias, I feel very comfortable working with the progressive men and women I currently work with at ILM. I have and still receive a lot of help and guidance from men and a women in positions of power, not because I am a girl, but because I am a colleague and I am good what I do.