CG Technology Supervisor
Industrial Light & Magic
What was your first job in the industry, and what were your first impressions?
My first job in the industry was at Rhythm & Hues. My first impressions were just that it was so much fun. It just seemed like, "Wow, this is an actual job where people get paid to do this kind of stuff! Blowing things up and simulating hair and creatures." I had a little bit of disbelief that you can get paid to do this kind of work that's so enjoyable. And the people that I met were really nice people. That sounds a bit cliche, but I really did meet so many people from so many different walks of life. Everyone was genuinely nice and I had a handful of supervisors at R&H who trusted me and gave me that foot in the door. They were all sincerely welcoming and tried to teach me as much as they could and trusted me to do a lot more than I thought I could handle.
How do you feel about the current state of the VFX industry or Hollywood and its inclusion of women and diversity?
I will just say this about the industry in general, Visual Effects specifically too: I think it's evident, hopefully to most people, that the diversity or lack thereof is quite evident. I think that's changing over time. It feels like a slow process, sometimes it's frustratingly slow. I do think stepping back and looking at the big picture, things are changing and it's getting better. But, it would be greater to see more people of color, more LGBT people, more women, at all levels of the organization, not just the levels at the top or the very bottom. Just having a more realistic representation of all of the people that could surely be contributing to this kind of work.
How do you plan to help advance the idea of more women in the industry?
People have come before me to make my experience here be as good as it has been. I've never felt uncomfortable or discriminated against in any sort of professional way. And that's thanks to people I may never have met, or will never meet. Women who've come before me or gay people who were out before me. Whatever it is. I'm benefiting from their efforts to make things more inclusive. That's kind of the pay it forward sort of thing. I think now, being in the position that I'm in, it's sort of an obligation, and it certainly doesn't feel like a burden, but that it feels like the natural thing to then in turn look behind me and see other young women who want to be in this industry that are hesitating for some reason, or feeling excluded or having difficulty, it's my obligation to turn that around and help them. Whether that means mentoring somebody or taking the extra time to show them the ropes or going to events and participating in panels and things to kind of get the word out. That this is a cool job and it's fun. If there's women out there that want to blow stuff up, or simulate blubber on a giant creature, or whatever it is, come on and join in. I think of it as my obligation to reach out and help people coming after me into the industry.
Were there ever times where you felt like being a woman may have impacted your career, or have you ever felt professionally excluded because of it?
I really feel extremely lucky in the sense that I've never had that experience. Certainly, I am the minority often in situations, but I never felt that it caused me to feel excluded or have no opportunities. Again, that's in large part not just that I'm lucky, but in thanks to the amount of people that came before me that might have had a tougher experience with that kind of thing. I've been very lucky here at ILM. .
Any words of advice you have for future generations of women interested in VFX?
This applies for any work, really. If you do the work and you enjoy it, and you're having fun, don't let it discourage you that you don't see everybody around you at the level of diversity that you would like to see. Don't let it discourage you that you might be the only woman in the room. That's going to happen. But you have to remember, that at the end of the day, life's short. You have to do what you enjoy. Don't let other people tell you that you don't belong there. Stick with it. Be true to yourself and what your passion is.
What was your favorite project?
I'd had to say the first Transformers movie. That was the second movie I worked on since coming here (to ILM), but that whole series of movies tends to be a lot of fun to work on. I got to rig some ridiculous robots and even got to animate a transformation shot or two.
Learn More About Kaori!
Years in Visual Effects: 14
Education: Brown University - BA , Philosophy & Comparitive Literature
Hometown: New York City, New York, USA
Favorite project: Transformers