Employee Spotlight: Kerynne Tejada
Meet a Production Assistant on the Frontlines of Immersive Entertainment
Can you tell us your current role and summarize your day-to-day responsibilities?
Currently, I am a production assistant at ILMxLAB working on the latest project, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge. My day-to-day responsibilities include scheduling and taking notes in meetings for stakeholders, communicating requested tasks and issues, and tracking progress for the design team.
How does your role fit within your larger team?
Not only do I assist on Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, but I also help out with general ILMxLAB tasks, including keeping track of VR equipment and hosting demos.
When did you start at the company, and in what role?
I started my current role this past October in 2019.
Did you have a familiarity with the company or its productions before you started? Were you a fan?
When I first started, I was honestly nervous and overwhelmed. Although I wasn’t a die-hard fan, I knew about Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and the impact they’ve had in the entertainment industry. I respected the works that they produced and were part of.
Could you summarize your background before joining the company? Where did you go to school? What early jobs did you have?
I initially wanted to get into graphic design and marketing for the entertainment industry. I studied Graphic Communication at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where I realized that I didn’t have a passion for it. After some self-reflection and research, I took part in the MFA animation production track at the Academy of Art University. During my final semester, I learned more about virtual reality and the new implications it could have on media. I took a job at Jaunt, Inc. as a receptionist to get my foot in the door, and then became a production assistant for a year at Baobab Studios.
What inspired you to get involved in this industry?
Growing up, Saturday mornings were always spent watching cartoons, while Sunday was spent reading through the four pages of full-color comics. My parents heavily influenced my love for animation in all forms. My mom used to have a job in the gaming industry, so I was exposed at a young age to gaming. My dad was a collector of Batman: The Animated Series collectibles, which brought me to this early realization that printed characters could be turned into another medium.
Of the ILMxLAB productions you’ve been involved with, do you have a favorite?
When I was first hired, I was able to work on the final weeks of Vader Immortal: Episode III. Star Wars: Tales from Galaxy’s Edge is the first production I have been a part of since the beginning. I don’t have a favorite that I’ve worked on, but I do love Avengers: Damage Control!
What do you think is exciting or interesting about working with immersive entertainment?
I think the most exciting part of immersive entertainment is the ability to be part of the story unfolding before someone’s very eyes. Before, with movies, shows, and books, we were transported to worlds through our own imagination; now, worlds we never thought we’d be able to visit are available with just one click.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is being able to immerse people in worlds they’ve come to know and love. This new form of storytelling allows our audience to be part of the narrative, developing a deeper relationship with the characters they meet on screen.
Is there anything about your job or your team that you think people outside would find surprising or different in the way you work?
Working in immersive storytelling is a lot quicker paced than the traditional and CG workflows. Decisions also change throughout the project, even near the end of the project, so we are always on our feet adapting to whatever it is we are implementing.
Are there any types of skills or attributes (beyond the normal qualifications) that you think are important for someone in your role or one like it?
Two key skills or attributes that are important to a production management role are communication and empathy. Everyone has a different style of communication. Understanding those various ways helps the production team convey solutions for discussions and issues. Empathy is another key skill to have. I believe that being empathetic to a team member helps build trust. The team member knows that you have their interest at heart and can assist them to put out the best work they can create.
Do you have a favorite memory (or memories) of your time on the job? Any stand-out accomplishments or cool opportunities?
My favorite memory is when we were preparing for a motion capture (mocap) shoot. I was able to be part of the process, donning a mocap suit and even a headcam! Seeing a character onscreen doing what I was doing has been the highlight of my time so far.
Do you have a favorite Lucasfilm movie or production, and why?
What advice would you give to those aspiring to join Lucasfilm?
The best piece of advice I could give someone is that it is never too late to find what you are passionate about. Turning that passion into a career, being paid to do what you love. That’s a great goal to achieve.