Tell us about how you got into VFX and your career path to date.
It was a happy accident! While I was working in Marketing at the Canadian Film Centre, a non-profit training institution for film, television, and new media, founded by Norman Jewison, I met the Treasurer of our Board who happened to be a founder of C.O.R.E., a visual effects studio in Toronto. He offered me a position, even though I knew nothing about visual effects, and the rest is history! I met my now husband while working there, and when he proposed, I moved to Los Angeles. I worked at various facilities in town, then freelanced, then landed at Paramount Pictures, where I spent 13 years moving up the ranks from VP to EVP, Visual Effects. Joining MPC is really a full-circle moment. I’m excited to come on board with the benefit of decades of experience in various positions in VFX. It’s given me a full view of the industry and a rich perspective from all sides: facility, freelance, and studio.
You have worked with MPC for many years, as Head of VFX at Paramount, what attracted you to join MPC?
Of course, the product. MPC has always had best-in-class artistry. Equally as important, MPC has always been very user-friendly, and a true partner in the process, which is more fluid than ever. The last few years have been a challenging time in the visual effects industry, but I am excited to join the team with an eye toward the next phase of the company. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to impact meaningful change.
What do you think is the key to being a great VFX Producer?
The devil is in the details, but also anticipation. A great VFX Producer is organized, proactive, has the foresight to see any challenges, and communicates a clear plan to all parties with the project’s best interests at heart. They also understand the overall needs of our clients and the company.
What will be your main focus and responsibilities at the studio?
Improving the overall end-to-end client experience, which includes many internal and external processes and checkpoints along the way. The most critical of which is starting off on the right foot. I am delighted to reconnect with many esteemed colleagues and filmmakers from my new post, and cannot wait to collaborate once again!
What are some trends you are seeing in animation and VFX?
Remote workflows are the new reality, so we must figure out how to optimize them. I’m also interested in game engine platforms and their various applications.
What do you think has been some of MPC’s greatest work to date, and what do you think they excel at?
There are many titles to note, but you cannot mention MPC without thinking about The Jungle Book and The Lion King. I’d also highlight The Martian, Sonic, and 1917. While MPC is a full-stop shop, there is no question that their CG character work is spectacular!
What do you think the challenges have been for women in the VFX industry, and how can they be addressed?
Breaking the glass ceiling. I am delighted to see some female VFX Supervisors and Animation Supervisors in the field, but we need more. VFX is a relatively new industry that has grown exponentially in the last 30 years, but there is now more awareness of the various disciplines and more entry points. There is also a commitment from our company and our clients to promote all under-represented groups, so I am hopeful that these two things combined will help to expand diversity and inclusion efforts.
What advice would you give to a woman who’s considering a career in VFX, or who is just starting out?
Be willing to start at the bottom for a full understanding of every step of the process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Next, find a mentor. Both of these things will serve you well. I have had a few mentors over my career, whose insights accelerated my learning curve. Their words still ring true in my ears today. I too am very passionate about sharing experiences, it’s helpful and efficient.
What do you reach for when you need a little bit of inspiration?
I either do something I can start and finish (hello, OCD!) or I’ll do something completely off-task, like walk my dog or read a book. I find that while I’m distracted, my brain is still rendering in the background, and then I have that “ah ha” moment. And coffee. I love a good cup of coffee.
Finally, tell us what the best part of the job is for you.
The people – we are nothing without our human component – and delivering for our clients, as we all share in the success. These images we create are forever, so that’s kinda cool too.