By Randi Altman
This coming Wednesday in New York City, VES New York and HBO are presenting ”Breaking into VFX: A Discussion With Women in the Visual Effects Industry,” in association with the Post NY Alliance and the School of Visual Arts.
The event’s main speaker is Marvel’s Victoria Alonso, who was recently upped from EVP of Visual Effects and Production to Head of Physical Production, overseeing all physical production, post production and production technical operations.
After a conversation between Alonso and the moderator — yours truly — there will be a panel discussion with the following female visual effects pros: Visual Effects Supervisor Leslie Robson Foster (The Knick and HBO’s upcoming Vinyl series); Gong Myung Lee, VFX Supervisor and Head of CG at Mr. X Gotham; Sabine Heller, Character Development Supervisor at Blue Sky Studios; Vivian Connolly, CEO/Executive Producer at Phosphene; and Leslie Chung, a freelance live action and CG compositor who owns her own show called Spline VFX.
The night will feature a conversational flow, with audience members asking questions throughout the discussion. Above all, Alonso is hoping for an open discussion that allows everyone’s voice to be heard.
According to HBO’s VP, Digital Production Services, Barbara Ford Grant, a VES board member, she sees this event being for anyone interested in how the speakers managed to succeed in this business. “As VFX globalizes and we are starting to see growth opportunities in New York City, Montreal and elsewhere around the world, it is a good time to hear from those succeeding in this business to share their stories in hopes of encouraging a new generation to enter the field. Our panel exemplifies the ever-diversifying nature of the work and roles involved in producing VFX.”
Why the focus on how women have succeeded? “Global production and potential for displacement is hard on families in general,” explains Ford Grant. “Having more women in positions of leadership, in positions of production and technology, can perhaps help reshape the nature of this business by exerting greater influence over choices made. It’s a difficult industry to rise up in and, if we judge by the numbers, even more so for women to stay in. Why is that, and how did these speakers defy the odds?”
She’s interested in hearing the personal stories of the speakers, lessons learned and getting a sense that opportunity exists if you are willing to look for the need and fill it. “Perhaps the audience will tackle perception versus reality when it comes to finding work and keeping jobs. We will likely need to examine why anyone would want to encourage anybody, woman or man, to join the turbulent VFX industry.”
The event takes place on September 30 at 7pm at the School of Visual Arts Beatrice Theater in New York City. Invite link is here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/breaking-into-vfx-a-discussion-with-women-in-the-visual-effects-industry-tickets-18503619825.