The Wonder Women of the visual effects industry

The Wonder Women of the visual effects industry
March 5, 2018 kgreene

In recognition of International Women’s Day, Future will be celebrating the talented women within the business every day this week from blog posts to Q&As. Kick-starting the week with a blog post on 3D Artist’s latest cover ‘Wonder Women’, Editor Carrie Mok, gives an insight into the industry heroes featured in the magazine.

The visual effects industry in the UK is booming. We have so many great success stories coming out of the country, with London-based studios like Double Negative and MPC winning Oscars for their CG work on films including Ex Machina, Interstellar and The Jungle Book.

But of all the films that are winning awards, wowing our visual appetites in theatres with their digital wizardry, just three women have been nominated for a visual effects Academy Award in the entire history of the show and only one, Sara Bennett, has ever won an Oscar for VFX – and that was back in 2016. The last two years have seen no women nominated for a VFX Oscar at all.

Moreover, women made up just 17% of ‘behind-the-scenes employment’ on the top 100, 250 and 500 films of 2016 says the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

I must stress that this isn’t the exact same trend for every single studio out there, some will see ratios of 50/50, 60/40 and so on in the gender split. A lot of studios I’ve spoken to are aware of the issues facing the industry, and are already encouraging more women to apply to vacancies and enter into leadership roles.

Last September I attended a panel hosted by Animated Women UK at ACCESS: VFX on the barriers that women and parents face working in the VFX industry. Animated Women UK exists to positively support, represent, celebrate and encourage women in the animation and VFX industries in the UK. It was a truly eye-opening and interactive panel discussion, with many of the audience members actively expressing some of the challenges they’ve faced working in VFX as a parent – from trying to balance the long working hours against their home life to the potential of lost work due to becoming a parent.

It was only a few weeks after this panel that we started to hear the news coming out from Hollywood and other industries, bringing a global spotlight on the challenges that women face in the workplace.

As an Editor, I think it’s important to always strive to be better and that it isn’t enough to be static in the landscape. As one of the top CG publications in the world, I believe that we at 3D Artist magazine have a real responsibility to promote equal representation so we thought of no one better to partner up with for our special Wonder Women issue (issue 115) than Animated Women UK.

The idea was to inspire, embolden new artists and to celebrate women across all of our industries in a special gallery with expert tips and techniques – rather than just simply showcasing their work, we were also providing an educational aspect for our readers. We opened up the gallery for the first time to submissions via social media and asked Animated Women UK to pick a shortlist that we would then feature in the magazine.

The issue went on sale in February, about one week after the 100th anniversary of the Suffragettes winning the right for women over 21 to vote in the UK. It was a real success as we presented some truly visually dynamic art pieces from the Wonder Women in our industries across many varied roles, from directors to supervisors to character artists, VFX artists and generalists. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we got the opportunity to liaise with new artists we had never worked with before, so we’re keen to carry on the conversation.

We learned a lot from this issue of 3D Artist, notably that there are many voices wanting to promote real change in the industry. Hopefully, we’ve boosted a few more.