My brother and I were obsessed with peeling our faces off when we were kids. It looked so cool on V when the aliens would pull back their human faces to show the lizardy thing underneath. We were also obsessed with making ourselves look as gross as possible, and for no particular reason. Halloween wasn’t coming up and we weren’t role playing. It was just summertime and we were bored.
We figured the best way to do both of those things was to mix raw eggs and white glue, put it on my face (I was usually the guinea pig for this sort of thing) and dry it with mom’s blow-dryer. It was stinky.
Movie special effects made us try a lot of sometimes stinky and always messy things when we were kids. We had no idea that people got paid to create those illusions. If we had, one of us would have pursued that as a career.
So, what does a girl need to know when she’s trying to get work in special effects? Several women who work with Weta Workshop have paved the way and share their best advice.
Be prepared for a very hard working industry – it’s not very glamorous. Also, keep up your own folio projects – good work speaks for itself as does a good attitude and that the best way to make other people want to work with you!
Define to yourself whether you are just interested, or whether you eat, sleep and breathe films. If the former, you have to realize that this industry is a harsh one, often involving long hours and less-than-ideal conditions compared to many other fields of work. If you are really passionate about being creative no matter the costs, film work is really rewarding artistically. Be competitive and work really hard.
Follow your heart. Always set goals for yourself, and do it because you love it, not because you hope to get work from it. Otherwise you may be putting your happiness in someone else’s hands.
Try and get as much experience as you can, even if it is working for nothing. Initially it’s all about knowing someone who knows someone who is doing something else…..
Ignore the setbacks, be persistent and if you’re willing to do anything and work hard and do your best you will make it in the end. What you know is important but who you know and how you relate to others is even more important.
Regardless of your skills, talents and history, the most important thing you can do is something you love. If that means beavering away in your shed on movie props for years and working in a bar to pay the bills then so be it. Be cash poor and creatively rich!
Never compromise your beliefs for a job.
People react to the messages you give them – so treat people how you would like to be treated. Lead by example.
Sounds cheesy but …. Believe in yourself! And if you don’t, fake it until you do.
It is fast paced environment and sometimes demanding, so dedication and passion for the industry is essential. Strong communication skills are also essential.
Make sure you are passionate about what you do because going from job to job means that you may have periods where you are out of work and for some, job instability can be stressful. Always be open to learning new things.
You need a big skill base. The broader your skill base the more likely you are to get work and stay in work. You can’t be too proud to build shelves when the ‘glamour’ work is low. Also, this is one industry where your hobbies can lead into getting work you love so include all hobbies in your applications.
Next week. the women of Weta discuss the challenges they have faced while working in the special effects industry and how those challenges were overcome.
Women of Weta Interview Series:
Women in Special Effects: Weta Workshop Part 2
Women in Special Effects: Lucy Cant of Weta Workshop