Maia Kayser

Animation Supervisor
Industrial Light & Magic

As a child, were you interested in art and technology or did you have a different idea of what you wanted to be when you grew up?
I was always interested in medicine, art, and technology. I was fascinated with them all, but then I decided to take the creative route. Much of that reason was because of my fascination for behind the scenes documentaries of films. I love the idea of being able to tell a fictional story and immersing people into an experience like that.

What was the moment you knew you wanted to be in the visual effects industry?
I think the pivotal moment for me was Jurassic Park. I loved the idea of creating fictional characters and making them feel so alive and real on the screen. When I saw it at the time it was a breakthrough in technology. And I thought, in a way, all of sudden telling stories were limitless. That and the exciting new technology that was emerging, really perked my interest in doing visual effects.

Did you have mentors or support networks throughout your career that really helped push you forward? Did you have any female role models in the industry to look up to?
I've had a lot of support networks that have helped me get recognized, that recognized my accomplishments, and helped push me forward. I have had female role models, there are plenty. An obvious one that comes to mind is Kathleen Kennedy. Being the president of Lucasfilm and also one of the pioneers in the industry, it's really great to be working at a company that's being led by such a visionary woman. Other great role models are award-winner Kathyrn Bigelow, and first female Best VFX Oscar-winner Sara Bennett (Ex Machina). I've been very lucky to be working with top talent I've been learning from, and there are multiple women within ILM itself that I look up to and admire, as well.

How do you feel about the current state of the VFX industry or Hollywood and its inclusion of women and diversity?
I still think that women are underrepresented in the industry. It is refreshing to see that there have been more movies coming out that have role diversity. There are more women with hero or main character roles. And it's nice to see that there's a positive trend towards working on diversity. But there's definitely more room in the industry for women. It would be nice to continue to see that positive trend.

Any words of advice you have for future generations of women interested in VFX?
Definitely educate yourself and stay on top of the latest innovations. There are a lot of very exciting opportunities in the visual effects industry even beyond film. Another thing I recommend is go and visit conventions, things like SIGGRAPH and Comic Con. It gives you an opportunity to learn from professionals. It can motivate you and inspire creativity, so it's always good to go visit those event. Ultimately, always seek knowledge, because there's no end to your education. You should go after what you really want to do and don't ever give up.

What was your favorite project?
That's a hard one! I've been fortunately working on so many cool projects, so it's hard to pin point it just to one. But I would probably say my favorites were Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango. Being an animator, there were so many different, amazing, and interesting characters. It was really fun to make the characters come to life and make them feel real and to give them a story. That's something animators love to do and those two projects were particularly that way. It was really fun to kind of hone in and try to find a character with their mannerisms and bring them to life, which is ultimately what I love to do, telling a story.

Learn More About Maia!

Years in Visual Effects: 16
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Favorite projects:Rango
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End