Can you summarize a little about your life and career since leaving ILM?
I continued as a consultant with ILM for a time and co-authored the book Industrial Light & Magic: Into the Digital Realm, which was published in 1996. After earning an MBA from UC Berkeley and Columbia in 2007, I ended up taking a job with the spinoff of ILM’s model shop, Kerner Optical, as executive producer (sadly the company ended operation in 2010 as practical action miniature effects became infrequently used).
Currently I volunteer one day a week at the Family Justice Center, a one-stop shop for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. I also babysit my grandchildren two days a week. And, I volunteer online at ElderWisdomCircle.org, an advice-giving site for young people looking for elder wisdom on various situations they face. In addition, I am awaiting word from EPIC MEGA GRANTS to see if they will fund a prototype of a game that I’m developing to teach young men and women the red flag behaviors that lead to sexual assault and coercion. This game is based on a real-life training program that teaches college age women how to avoid sexual assault and coercion.
Thinking about young people coming into the visual effects industry, what thoughts do you have about having a work/life balance in your career?
It’s a very important topic, and you have to look at the effects industry today, which has become international. When I was working, most of the companies were American, but today economic incentives send many studios out of the country. So that affects work/life balance because many young people have to consider working overseas. Markets in Canada, England, Singapore, or India have plenty of jobs, but it’s difficult to make that move when you have a family. One of the big solutions that I see is job-sharing, allowing people to do their eight-hour-shift and go home, and if someone going overseas has a family then the company should help all of them go as an option. Work/life balance seems to be the wave of the future, as does remote work which continues to grow.
Considering its company culture, how does ILM stand in the visual effects industry?
There is no equal to ILM’s culture of caring about their employees and making work/life balance as effective as possible. I’ve worked at many other studios, and I’ve learned that the visual effects industry in general is full of very smart people. When I later worked outside the industry, I realized how spoiled I’d been working with people who were so committed to quality in their work. I hope ILM continues to stay devoted to caring about the human element of what we do. I also hope that the visual effects industry gets more recognition for the contribution it makes to so many films today. There’s so little that doesn’t involve visual effects. I’d like to see us grow in respect, power, and profitability.