Of the many projects you’ve worked on at ILM, do you have a favorite, and why?
It’s so difficult to pick! If I had to choose, I think it would be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It was the first Star Wars film I got to work on from start to finish, and the first film where I saw my name in that iconic blue against the star field. The entire team was so motivated to work on such a unique story conjured up by our own John Knoll. It really created a fun environment around the film and everyone was so passionate on seeing it through.
I have to include Jurassic World as an honorable mention though. I am a huge dinosaur fanatic, so when the chance to be filmed as an extra for the crowd inside the Visitors Center for Jurassic World came about, I was one of the first in line. I still freak out when I see myself walking down the steps behind the hologram of the Apatosaurus.
What has been the most challenging project?
Solo: A Star Wars Story might have been the most challenging project for me. It was my first project officially as a Look Development Lighting Artist, and I wanted to do everything perfectly. There was so much for me to learn, I struggled to accept that I wasn’t going to be at the same level as everyone else who had been doing it for years. I wanted to be great at it off the bat. Looking back now, it’s a very silly thought, but the project really taught me to embrace where my skill level was and how it will only continue to grow. It also pushed me to never be afraid to ask for help or a fresh perspective on a problem. I was the only one that expected me to not make any mistakes, and everyone around me was so helpful in showing me the answer. Each mistake and error I made was a massive learning point, and the end result of my work in the film is something I am immensely proud of.
In addition to your actual job, we know that you often participate in different company events or activities. What do you enjoy about these “extra-curricular” opportunities?
Lucasfilm and ILM provide us with so many chances to volunteer in the community, and I love participating in all of them. I’ve helped build 3 playgrounds in the Bay Area with KaBoom, served up breakfast to veterans with Swords to Plowshares, packaged up meals with Rise Against Hunger, and cleaned up the beach with the Surfrider Foundation.
We also have some of the coolest events that happen annually at the company. The Lucasfilm Company Picnic, Trivia Night, and my favorite, the Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival! The Chalk Art Festival is a particular favorite because I get to see how creative all of my co-workers get, and push myself and my team to try and match that creativity.
What advice would you give to those wishing to join the ranks here?
If there’s a role you are dead set on breaking into, practice it all you can! Learn the latest software used by the big studios, watch tutorials, and give yourself small projects to keep your mind fresh and to continue to grow your skills. Watch behind-the-scenes clips and breakdowns to see how ILM creates its work. If you don’t know what role you want to break into, that’s fine too! The entry level Technical Assistant positions are a great way to explore the opportunities at the company while learning the pipeline. You might find out that you have an interest that you’d never had before. And, I’ve said once already, but network and connect. Visit the ILM booth at SIGGRAPH, GDC, and other conferences and conventions. Meet the recruiting team, connect with them, and get your name out there!