A History of Women in VFX

Intro:

So after exploring The History of Canadian VFX. (Feel free to check out the article!) Something started nagging at the base of my skull. Then I realized the two issues that were bugging me. The first one being: In all the research I did about the Canadian VFX industry, I noticed that the majority of written down history was from news articles. There was no timeline of events, or backstories. Just simple Q&As with artists. The second one I realized was: There were almost zero articles around Canadian women in VFX minus one large PDF I found, and a Mcleans article.
So let’s fix that, and take it one step further. Let’s try and find all our founding women of VFX.

Also HUGE thank you to the wonderful ladies in the Women in VFX discord server. All of you have been hugely supportive and I don’t know how I would have written this without you. Also a big shout out to Clementine Lo, a VFX lead at Animal Logic. Without her power, curiosity, and patience there would be gaps in this data. Thank you for your help.


A Timeline of Women in VFX

Pre 1900s:

1894
-Alice Guy-Blaché is hired by Felix-Max Richard to work for a camera manufacturing company. This will be her first exposure to the film industry no pun intended.She will go on to produce over 700 films and have a 25 year career.

1895
Guy-Blaché attends the first demonstration of film projection.

1896
- The Cabbage Fairy is made by Alice Guy-Blaché. It is considered the first narrative film.
She also became head of production at Gaumont Studios She is considered till 1906 to be the only female filmmaker. As well as founder of narrative filmmaking.

The 1900s:

1906
-Alice Guy-Blaché makes her film: The Life of Christ. She is also considered one of the first filmmakers to use visual/special effects in film. These include using double exposure, masking techniques, and running a film backwards. (You could consider her the first VFX artist/compositor ever.)

1908
-Alice Guy and her husband give Lois Weber her first breakthrough into the film industry as a singer for chronophone. She will later become a director, producer, and activist against the male Hollywood sensors.

The 1910s:

1910
-Alice Guy co-founds her own film studio with her husband in America. The Solax Company would become the largest pre-hollywood film studio.
-Lois Weber starts working as a film editor and developing negatives. A job only seen as a male oriented task.

1911
-Lois Weber directs her first short silent film: A Heroine of '76.

1912
-Alice Guy-Blaché releases A Fool and His Money. It is the first film to have an all-African-American cast. After divorcing her husband, she becomes the first woman to run her own film studio.

1913
-Guy-Blaché directed The Thief. This is the first script sold by future Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marsto.
- Lois Weber invents the split screen visual technique for her film Suspense. Also during this time period she was one of the first directors to experiment with sound.
-Lois Weber and her husband release a film called The Jew's Christmas. This film shows the struggle of Jewish values in an American Society. As well as tackling the issue of cultural assimilation. It is the earliest portrayal of a rabbi in an American film.

1914
-Lois Weber becomes the first woman to direct a feature length film in the USA. Her film is an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.She also becomes the highest paid female director of her time. Also she becomes famous. She has an average of 5-6 million people viewing her films a week.

1915
-Lois Weber shocks audiences and produces the first film with a full frontal nudity of a woman.(Hypocrites)

1916
-Lois Weber pushes more boundaries and creates the first filme (Where Are My Children?) which discusses abortion and birth control. She is a liberal ahead of her time.
-Weber directs 10 films for Universal Studios, and becomes their highest paid director.

1917
-Lois Weber became the first American woman to own her own film studio. She’s going to be the most important American female director of all time. She will produce between 200-400 films in her career. She also released a followup film called The Hand That Rocks the Cradle to continue to activate for birth control, voluntary motherhood and consent. She is also the only woman granted membership in the Motion Picture Directors Association at this time.

1918
-Lois Weber produces the first ever Tarzan adaptation for film.

1919
-Alice Guy films her last film: Tarnished Reputations.
-Dorothy Arzner starts working in the script department at Paramount Studios. Within 6 months she becomes an editor. She becomes such an asset for Paramount that when she threatens to leave the company, Paramount gives her a directing role. However she goes mostly uncredited during this time.

The 1920s:

1921
-Lois Weber produces what is considered her greatest film: The Blot. This film condemns capitalistic materialism and sexual exploitation. It is distributed by Canadian women producers Nell Shipman and May Tully.
-She also predicts that color will be used in films, and advocates for better protections for the American Film industry. However, her studio; Lois Weber Productions, collapsed due to insufficient funds.

1922
-Alice Guy returns to France in 1922.

1927
-Dorothy Arzner became the only female director working Hollywood for her entire career up until her retirement in 1943. She is the first woman to direct a film with sound and the first woman to join the Directors Guild of America.
-Hazel Sewell is hired at Disney animation after her sister Lillian Disney advocates for her. She will become the first woman ever to hold a lead or supervisor position in the animation industry. She was also with Walt Disney from the very beginning and helped him with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

1928
-Dorothy Arzner releases her first “talkie”: The Wild Party.

The 1930s:

1931
-Ida Lupino starts her film industry journey and stars as an actress in her first film: The Love Race.

1933
-Esther Eng, at the age of 19 becomes a producer at her father’s film production studio. She produces her first film: Heartache. Her legacy will span until her death. She is the first female director to direct Chinese-language films in the United States. She is also responsible for 4 feature length films. She was one of the first Chinese-American directors in North America. She also the first openly gay lesbian directors.

1934
-Bianca Majolie submits a thirteen-page outline that will later be turned into the cartoon Silly Symphony: Elmer Elephant.

1935
-Bianca Majolie becomes the first woman to become a storyboard artist for Walt Disney Productions.

1936:
Esther Eng leaves America to live in Hong Kong and produce films for China.
-Grace Huntington joins Disney Animation.She was the second woman ever hired in the animation department. In the future her animation techniques will set the standard for the animation industry for years to come.

1937
-Hazel Sewell is promoted and starts to create new inking and coloring divisions within the company.

1938
-Bianca Majolie provides the first art and visual development for Cinderella and Peter Pan.
-Sylvia Holland becomes the second woman to work in the storyboard department at Walt Disney Animation.
-Hazel Sewell resigns Disney after a nervous breakdown. Disney refuses to rehire her, compensate her for her mental health, and does not wish her goodbye.

1939
-Lois Weber passes away at the age of 60.
-Esther Eng returns to the United States. She begins distributing films in Central and South America.
-Milicent Patrick starts working at Disney Animation Studios in the ink and paint department. This is the start of her career in the film industry. She will then become a huge part of Hollywood as a makeup artist, and special effects designer.

The 1940s:

- Walt Disney starts a program that would train women from Ink and Paint so that they could be promoted into animation. Disney justifies the new policy after backlash.

1940
-Mary Blair joins Walt Disney Animation Studios.
-Lois Weber last film; White Heat is released. Even though it was broadcast on TV, it is now considered a lost film.
-Dorothy Arzner releases what is considered her best film: Dance,Girl, Dance. Starring Lucille Ball.This film deals with the wrongful objectification of women.
-Lda Lupino forms a film studio with her husband. A lot of her films produced from her studio deal with hushed up issues at the time. Such as ut-of-wedlock pregnancy, bigamy, and rape.
-Milicent Patrick is moved to the Animation and Art Department at Disney Animation.
-Bianca Majolie is fired from Walt Disney Studios.
-Sylvia Holland works on her first project Fantasia. She would be considered by today’s standards a Storyboard Supervisor.

1941
-Mary Blair works on her first Disney film Dumbo.
-Milicent Patrick finishes her work on Dumbo and leaves Disney Animation.

1942
-Retta Scott joins Disney Animation to work on Bambi. She will become the first woman to receive a screen credit for animation. She also opens the doors for more women to work at Disney.

1943
-Dorothy Arzner releases her last film First Comes Courage. She also retires from her career. Even though she’s left Hollywood she continues to make films for the Women's Army Corps in WW2.

1946
-Sylvia Holland is laid off from Disney Animation. She will never be re-hired.
-Retta Scott retires from animation at Disney Animation.

1947
-Milicent Patrick starts work at Paramount and becomes the first woman ever to work in Special Effects.

1949
-Ida Lupino lands her first directing role after the director she is working under has a heart attack mid-production. She finishes the film: Not Wanted. This is the start of her directing career of over 59 films.She also became the most prominent female filmmaker in the 1950s.

The 1950s:

1950:
-Esther Eng leaves the film industry to enter the restaurant business.

1952
- Milicent Patrick's first special effects work can be seen in the film:Against All Flags.

1953:
-Guy-Blaché was awarded the Légion d'honneur, the highest non-military award in France.
- Ida Lupino releases The Hitch-Hiker. Which makes her the first female director to direct a film noir. She is also responsible for the first product placement in movies.
-Milicent Patrick designs the Gill-man for The Creature from the Black Lagoon. During her press tour for the film she is mocked and dubbed: “The Beauty Who Lives With the Beast”. This discredits her as the creator of the Gill-man, and gives it to the director. After these remarks are made, Universal Studios fires her. She never works behind the scenes again.

1955
-Mary Blair’s last Disney films are released. Donald Duck Visits Lake Titicaca and Lady and the Tramp.
-Ida Lupino’s studio; The Filmmakers closes.During this time she switches to directing episodes on television, and works on over 30 american shows.

The 1960s:

1960
-Lois Weber is awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1964
-Mary Blair showcases her designs for “It’s a Small World” in the New York’s World Fair.
-Ida Lupino becomes the only woman to direct an episode of the Twilight Zone.

1965
-lda Lupino releases her last thetical film: The Trouble With Angels.

1967
-Mary Blair creates mural art for the Tomorrowland Promenade.

1968
-Alice Guy-Blaché passed away at the age of 94.

The 1970s:

1970
-Esther Eng dies at the age of 55.

1974
-Syliva Moberly dies at the age of 73.

1975
-Rebeeca Allan heads off to her first college: Rhode Island School of Design.
-Hazel Sewell dies at the age of 77.

1977
- Nadia Magnenat Thalmann publishes her first paper on LCAOX Calculation of the Ionization of Small Molecules.
-Patricia Rose Duignan gets her first production role on Star Wars: A New Hope. She will move into more production roles.
-Jena Holman becomes the first female matte painter in North America.She will go on to work on many action films and John Carpenter films.

1978
-Rebeeca Allan starts her journey at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
-Mary Blair passes away from cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 66.

1979
-Nadia Magnenat Thalmann starts her term as a Professor at the University of Montreal in Canada. In her career she will go on to publish over 700 papers on virtual humans. As well as give more than 300 keynote lectures.
-Dorothy Arzner passes away at the age of 82.

The 1980s:

1980
-Rebeeca Allan heads to the Computer Graphics Lab at the New York Institute of Technology. To study animation.
-Tia Kratter starts her career as a background artist at Walt Disney feature Animation and graduates from the ArtCenter College for Design.
-Sherry Lansing becomes president of 20th Century FOX. This makes her the first female leader to a film studio.

1982
-Rebeeca Allan starts working with the Joffrey Ballet Company in Chicago to produce models of the dancers with a process that would later be called motion capture.
-Suzanne M. Benson works on her first film: Slapstick of Another Kind. She will go on to become one of the greatest female special effects.

1983
-Rebeeca Allan produces her first music videos: Smile and Success
-Rebeeca Allan’s work is showcased, and is considered one of the first examples of computer modelling broadcast on television.
-Nadia Thalmann creates and directes what is considered the first 3D animated film. Dream Flight.

1984
-Caroleen “Jett” Green starts her matte painting career at ILM. She’ll go on to become one of the best female matte painters in North America. As well as working on some of the world’s biggest films.

1986
-Rebeeca Allan produces her music video: Musique Non-Stop for Kraftwerk. She also starts her career as an independent media artist in Los Angeles
-Lisa Meeches begins her career in film. She will become one of the best Canadian producers, as well as one of the best distinguished Native North Americans working in film.

1987
- Nadia Magnenat Thalmann is named woman of the year in Montreal.
-Jean Bolte starts her long career at ILM. She works as a texture artist and supervisor on a variety of films including Star Wars.
-Suzanne M. Benson becomes the first woman to win an Academy Award for Special Effects for her work on Aliens.

1989
- Nadia Magnenat Thalmann founded MIRALab at the University of Geneva. Her goal is to further research Virtual Humans and Social Robots.
-Euzhan Palcy becomes the first black female director at MGM, and at a large Hollywood studio.

The 1990s:

-Jena Holman dies (date of death unknown) of a brain tumor.

1990
-Deborah Fowler contributes to her first 3D design publication. Which is: The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants. This work is showcased in SIGGRAPH'92, '90, '89 Technical Slide Set.
-Retta Scott passes away at the age of 74.
- Patricia Rose Duignan joins Paramount Pictures. This will be the beginning of a long VFX career. Her first films are some of the classic Star Trek films.

1991
- Mary Blair is inducted into the Disney Legends.

1993
-Rebeeca Allan becomes the Creative Director at Virgin Interactive Entertainment.
-Tia Kratter Joins Pixar Animation Studios as a Digital Painter. She later became a Shader Art Director on four other Pixar films.
-Lois Weber’s film Where Are My Children? Is selected for preservation in the Nation Film Registry.

1995
-Tia Kratter becomes the Lead CGI painter on Toy Story.
-Deborah Fowler contributes to another 3D design publication: The Algorithmic Beauty of Sea Shells. She also works as the lead lighting artist on Toy Story at this time.
-Amy Shepard starts her career as a Digital Paint Supervisor at ILM. She will go on to work on Black Panther which will win 3 Academy Awards.
-The Lost Garden: The Life and Cinema of Alice Guy-Blaché is released by the Candian Film Board. It documents the lack of mention of Alice Guy in the film industry records.
-Ida Lupino passes away at the age of 77.

1996:
-Rebecca Allan starts teaching at the Department of Design Media at the University of Los -Angeles. She remains at this teaching position to this day, and also co-directs the Center for Digital Arts.
- Mary Blair is awarded the Winsor McCay Award posthumously.

1997
-Lindy De Quattro starts her career at ILM. She will work there as a VFX supervisor for over 20 years.
-Bianca Majolie passes away at the age of 96.

1998
-Ida Lupino’s film: The Hitchhikers is inducted into the National Film Registry.
-Milicent Patrick passes away at the age of 82.

1999
- Deborah Fowler stars as the Senior lighting technician on Toy Story 2.

The 2000s:

2000
-Walt Disney Company posthumously awards Retta Scott the Disney Legends Award for her work.

2001
Jessica Teach starts her journey at ILM. She’ll go onto work on Star Wars and The Avengers.
-Maia Kayser joins ILM. She’s become their Animation Supervisor in a couple of years.

2003
- Nadia Magnenat Thalmann starts her term as the Vice-Rector at the University of Geneva.
-Matrimony's Speed Limit, directed by Alice Guy. Is selected for preservation by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

2004
-Rebeeca Allan produces The Bush Soul. Which is a production based around technoculture and humanises technology.

2005
-Pamela B. Green founded PIC. This is a studio focused on entertainment and motion design. It has done one main title sequences for over 100 feature films.

2006
Kaori Ogino began her career at ILM and will later become ILM’s CG Technology Supervisor in 2015.She’s also written 3 papers. One of particular interest is one on Predictive and proactive pipelines.

2007
-Maia Kayser is awarded an achievement for her work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
-Ana de Mier y Ortuño starts her career in film editing.She will become one of the best german film editors in Europe.

2009
- Nadia Magnenat Thalmann receives a Doctor Honoris Causa in Natural Sciences from the Leibniz University of Hanover.
- A temp exhibit on Amy Blair’s art is opened in Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

The 2010s:

2010
-Deborah Fowler starts working as a professor at SCAD. Her impact on thousands of VFX students starts now.
- Nadia Magnenat Thalmann receives a Honorary Doctorate of the University in Ottawa.
-the Academy Film Archive preserved Guy-Blaché's short film The Girl in the Arm-Chair.
-Norma Bailey is awarded the Order of Ontario for her work in Canada’s film industry.

2011
-A Google Doodle is made for Mary Blair’s birthday. (October 12, 1911)
-Alice Guy is added into the Directors Guild of America.

2012
-Tia Kratter becomes the Character Shading Supervisor on Brave.
-Nadia Magnenat Thalmann receives an award from the Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society in Toronto.
-Pamela B. Green begins work on a film that will help preserve the legacy of another female artist: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché. It is now in consideration for the Academy Awards.
-Pamela. Green wins an Emmy for Outstanding Broadcast.

2013
-Pamela B. Green’s studio PIC receives a Key Art Award in Audio/Visual Technique for the titles of The Wolverine.
-Victoria Alonso becomes Executive Vice President for Marvel Studios.
-Mariana Acuña Acosta becomes the Head of Creatives at Foundry. She will hold this position for 5 years.
-Jennifer Lee wins an Annie Award for her script writing on Wreck-it Ralph.
-Lindy De Quattro wins a HPA Award for Outstanding Visual Effects for her work on Pacific Rim.
-Nathalie Mathe contributes to the first VR documentary about the Oculus Rift.

2014
-Kaye Vassey becomes the Lead Technical Animator on Fortnite. Some of the most popular meme dances from the game you can thank her for.
-Jennifer Lee wins a BAFTA for her screenwriting skills on Wreck-it Ralph.She also wins Best Animated Feature Film of the Year at the Oscars for Frozen. As well as a VES award.

2015
-Executive Producer Kim Todd wins an Emmy for her work on Fargo.She continues her career and works for some of the largest companies in the entertainment business.
-Priyanka Balasubramanian founded Hula Hoop VFX. This makes her one of the first Indian women to found her own VFX studio.

2016
-Charmaine Chan founds a Women in VFX video series to better document women in VFX. As well as womeninvfx.com. So far they have interviewed over 60 artists across the world.
-Maxine Gervais becomes a senior colorist at Technicolor. She has worked on over 50 films throughout her entire career.
-Nathalie Mathe starts and runs NativeVR. With a focus on diversity.

2017
-Kaitlyn Yang, a woman with over 40 VFX credits, and founder of her own post production show, is placed on the cover of Forbes 30 under 30.

2018
-NASA launches the ICESat-2 satellite. Deborah Fowler assists educational public outreach for the mission.
-Pamela B. Green founded the Legwork Collective. This organization’s goal is to obtain rights to unusual and rarely seen footage, stills, audio, and artifacts for preservation.
-Raqi Syed receives the undance and Turner Fellow for her visual effects and VR work.
-Jennifer Lee becomes the CCO of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
-Rachel Matchett becomes the World Wide Head of VFX at Technicolor.
-Claire Shanley becomes a producer at HBO. She now oversees some of the most popular shows on TV.
-Kranti Sarma becomes head of Studio of MPC India. This is a big moment for women in the Indian VFX industry. She’ll go on to be Head of Studio at Technicolor India as well.

2019
-Midy Johnson is awarded an Academy Film Scholar Award for her historical animation work.

The 2020s:

2020
-Jessica Teach becomes the Vice President of Operations at ILM.
-The Academy creates Academy Aperture 2025 which aims to make sure more diversity is encouraged throughout VFX and other aspects of the film industry.
-Ida Lupino’s film: Outrage is inducted into the National Film Registry.
-Be Natural:The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché was nominated for five awards at the 2020 FOCAL International Awards. It wins 2.
-Mindy Johnson Is awarded ASIFA(Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Faculty Grant). This is for her contributions of the earliest women within the animated past.
-Raqi Syed displays her VR work at the Tribeca, Cannes, Annecy, and Venice International Film Festivals.
-Lisa Meeches is given The Order of Canada for her work in film.

2021
-A study is released that states that women only make up 27% of the VFX industry workforce. (We can do better than that!)

Females in Software Development.

It wasn’t just the visual effects that women were a part of. It was also the software

Mary Allen Wilkes is probably the founding woman of modern software development. In 1959, instead of going to law which was her chosen field at the time, Mary drove over to M.I.T and asked if they were hiring computer programmers. She was hired that day.

She first worked on the IBM 704. The computer had no keyboards or screens, and she had to write everything down on paper. She was great at her job, and one of the reasons she was hired at the time was for two reasons. In World War 2, women were used for calculating statistics and coding earlier computers. They were used so much, and they were so good at it, that it was only considered a woman’s job. The second, was there were no one with previous experience with computers at the time because they were so new.

By the 1960s, one in four programmers were women. Mary also around this time was assigned to one of the most important projects at M.I.T. This was the LINC. The goal of this project was to create a computer small enough to fit in a room. Around this time she also became the first person to have a personal computer in their home.

But before her, Lady Ada Lovelace was probably the first programmer ever. She was around 100 years before Mary got on the scene, and she kicked ass.

She was a mathematician in 1833 and was hired by Charles Babbage to help him program his analytical engine. This engine primarily ran on gears and cogs, but Charles wanted to create a system where the machine would remember commands that could be programmed into it. Her code that she created would produce what we now call a Bernoulli sequence of numbers. Lovelace died at the age of 36.

Arlene Gwendolyn Lee was also one, if only the first black woman in coding in the 1960s. She overcame a huge amount of tests to get her job, but she became one of the best female coders at the time.

By 1967, there were so many female programmers that even the mainstream media was taking notice. They called them “The computer girls”.But starting in 1984, women started to be forced out due to a new wave of students who had been trained since childhood to use a computer. Or to head in that field. These students were mostly men. This was because their parents had decided that computers were a man’s job. So boys began to be exposed to technology while their sisters were told to do housework.

Women started to be ignored in classrooms, kicked out of their degrees, harassed, and bullied out of diplomas.Employers also started to favour men. The opportunity to learn was gone.

Flashing forward a few years, Stephanie Hurlburt started to become a developer for a popular game engine we now know as Unity. She would then go on to develop her own software with a partner named Rich Geldreich. This software would compress textures so artists could use them better and faster in game engines. When both of them tried to sell this software in 2016, only Rich was given the credit for it. She was viewed as his secretary.

Academy Awards and Female Artists.

In the big long timeline above. I’ve mentioned a few Academy Award winners. However, they are the only ones. There has only been one woman who has ever won Best Visual Effects at the Oscars. Her name is Sara Beenett. She currently works at Milk VFX. Everyone buy her a beer please.

Now there are a lot of reasons why this has happened, and none of it is good. Often in the early days of the film industry, and in VFX, female supervisors weren’t called supervisors. They were called continuity girls. Because women weren’t seen as leaders.

There is also a huge lack of female VFX supervisors in the field as well. Here in Toronto, I can’t think of a single woman who holds a VFX supervisor position. I’ve only ever talked to one female lead and she is all the way out in Vancouver.

Also, there seems to be the misconception that men started this industry. They started the film industry for sure, but it was women who started to develop visual effects and editing techniques until it was seen as a lucrative business.

Clearly this needs to change. Whether that means adding methods of equality in hiring quotas, encouraging everyone regardless of their gender into a leadership role, or just being respectful to others.

Making a Difference.

While I was writing this, there was something I felt I needed to point out. It wasn’t just other women who helped women get into the film industry. There were a few helpful men, studios, and companies who took time out of their day to advocate for the opposite gender. We already know that Walt Disney was very loud about getting women into animation and inks and paint. However, there are a few more that I do think should be applauded because they went above and beyond to look past gender norms and race. As well as did their best to create a cultural change in their work environment.

I think this is also important to note because we are all in this together, and we all no matter who we are have to support each other. Regardless of which gender you are. It’s the only way this industry can become better.

Léon Gaumont was really the first man to make a difference in this industry. In 1897, his camera selling business was merged into a motion picture business and he hired Alice Guy as his secretary. He must have trusted her a lot, because after following her advice he started using his company to produce films. It’s also very clear from a lot of writings that he also wanted her to grow as an artist and to explore new media. He would have her come to film showings of the Lumiere brothers, and allow her to interact with the film equipment they would build.

Alice Guy would then leave for America where she and her husband would encourage more women to go into film.

Paramount Pictures also has a huge part to play for introducing women into film. Not only were they distributing Fleischer Studios (A competitor to Disney in the 1930s) animations, but a lot of their producers were introducing female talent. They gave Ida Lupino her start in acting and exposed her to directing roles with the company. As well as a bunch of leading actresses in film..

Also an interesting thing to note is that we would have probably forgotten about Jenna Holman(first female matte painter) if it hadn’t been for David Stipes who was a visual effects cinematographer at the time. He loved taking behind the scenes pictures of Jenna and her matte painting progress as he found it very unique. But Jenna wasn’t too happy about it as she was very camera shy. But since she worked at his studio she let him do it. But without these pictures her credits and proof she existed in the VFX world would have been lost.

Closing Thoughts

Before I end this article, I just wanted to explain how important this was for me to write this. As well how writing this particular article changed me.

When I was studying 3D animation in 2016-2019, it came to my attention that I didn’t know any women going into VFX or in the field. So I googled it mid class and three names popped up. Two were men. One was Professor Deborah Fowler. Because I was just a dumb student at the time I unfortunatly came to the conclusion that she was the only one. This also really affected me as I was also the first and only woman to graduate from my program as a VFX artist. I really thought I was alone.

Then for the next two years of my career I would be told again and again, that I was the first female VFX artist to work at a “said” studio, or only work with men. It’s been a pretty lonely two years. During this time, I also had a partner in VFX at the time tell me: “This industry was founded by men, nothing you will ever do will change that.”

So I really felt the need to write this to prove that I wasn’t alone, and to fact check all the information I was being told. So I did.

In the midst of writing this I realized a few things:

-Women started and created the first visual effects.
-Women started the first Pre-Hollywood studios.
-Women founded and created modern animation techniques.
-Moms can be studio owners.
-Mocap techniques were developed by women.
-A ton of talented ladies created the first computer software.
-I am not alone in this industry.

I’d love to say I feel better after writing this, as that was something I’d hoped I would feel. But I don’t. There was one story I found while writing this that made me miserable. That was the story of Milicent Patrick. I loved The Creature from The Black Lagoon growing up. When I was a kid there was this spin off kids book series that would parody The Black Lagoon. Reading those books was some of the most happiest moments of my childhood. Out of all the joy I got from those books, the movie art, and this history….. It makes me miserable to know that the woman who created my joy was punished for what she created. Just because that movie was popular. I feel like I was complicit in that because I didn’t understand the history of that film.

I never want to see that happen again.

References:

The Secret History of Women in Coding: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/13/magazine/women-coding-computer-programming.html

Women in Film: History, Roles and More: https://fairygodboss.com/career-topics/women-in-film#:~:text=Working%20as%20a%20secretary%20at,She%20was%2023%20years%20old.

Context of Practice: http://fs-clark109508cp.blogspot.com/2015/11/matte-paintings-through-20th-century.html

Matte Shot - a tribute to Golden Era special fx: http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/2011/12/jena-holman-matte-art-and-feminine.html

Day 72 – Caroleen “Jett” Green: http://365starwars.com/2018/03/13/day-72-caroleen-jett-green/

Matte painter Nathalie Mathé: https://magazine.artstation.com/2014/03/matte-painter-nathalie-mathe/

How Canada Became a Springboard for Female Directors: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-canada-became-a-springboard-female-directors-1082000

Marvel Visual Effects Leader Pushes For More Women, Tells Newcomers ‘Fill The Gap’: https://deadline.com/2014/10/marvel-victoria-alonso-visual-effects-summit-women-jobs-854447/

Women’s Day Special Interview with- Priyanka -Executive Producer/ Managing Director -Hula Hoop VFX: https://www.vfxexpress.com/womens-day-special-interview-with-priyanka-executive-producer-managing-director-hula-hoop-vfx/

VAM Summit: If women keep supporting other women the industry might witness a brighter future!: https://www.animationxpress.com/vfx/vam-summit-if-women-keep-supporting-other-women-the-industry-might-witness-a-brighter-future/

The Women Who Helped Build Hollywood: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/04/the-women-who-helped-build-hollywood

Women in VFX: http://womeninvfx.com/

WOMEN LEAD: SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN IN VFX CREATOR CHARMAINE CHAN
By NAOMI GOLDMAN: https://www.vfxvoice.com/women-lead-spotlight-on-women-in-vfx-creator-charmaine-chan/

VFX Producer Andrea Knoll on Making Strides for Women in the World of VFX: https://variety.com/2020/artisans/news/vfx-supervisors-women-andrea-knoll-1234751368/

The VFX Industry: Where are the women?: https://postperspective.com/vfx-where-are-the-women/

The VFX Industry: Where are the women? : https://www.reddit.com/r/vfx/comments/61cmdw/the_vfx_industry_where_are_the_women/

There Are No Women Nominated for Visual Effects at the 2018 Oscars: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/women-vfx-oscars-2018

Visual Effects: The Gender Bias Behind The Screen: https://techcrunch.com/2015/02/02/women-in-vfx-high-tech-yet-not-tech/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADJ9ZnB3lMb2y7aIASELwXVDr_aHjmBvv2AG06M8h0Jr6j_o0w7m9NzIf4SJcm58eckCzdO1xKG2o3M39q3XY6PA-An_goKtIXRKBHbjtV4WyBKfPzl1CLp26jV-IeyfPSQotprZD10bq9g8259htrSPfa0FFEIh3BRkjTuLAm-l

Tag: Women in VFX: https://www.dneg.com/tag/women-in-vfx/

Goodbye Kansas Studio - Women in VFX: https://cgsociety.org/news/article/4996/goodbye-kansas-studio-women-in-vfx

Why ‘Women Need to Help Other Women’ According to VFX Producer Andrea Knoll: https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/vfx-supervisor-career-advice-andrea-knoll-amazon-71081/

VES Los Angeles – Women of VFX Panel: https://www.visualeffectssociety.com/event/ves-los-angeles-women-of-vfx-panel/

Women of Visual Effects are changing the trend of Animation and VFX industry. Check our more about the event.: https://bricfoundation.org/news/2019/4/29/women-in-animation-women-of-visual-effects

The Rigging Buddies Podcast #26: Alicia Carvalho: https://www.riggingdojo.com/tag/women-in-vfx/

VFX Supervisor Kaitlyn Yang on Gender Equality and Diversity in the Film Industry: https://www.laughingplace.com/w/articles/2020/06/03/vfx-supervisor-kaitlyn-yang-on-gender-equality-and-diversity-in-the-film-industry/

WOMEN IN POST: https://definitionmagazine.com/features/women-in-post/

Behind the Shot: In Conversation with Women Leaders in VFX: https://www.technicolor.com/news/behind-shot-conversation-women-leaders-vfx

Women In VFX: http://www.milk-vfx.com/press/9289/

Women in Animation and VFX: Negotiating pay and salary - January event: https://www.animvfxunion.com/blog/2019/12/women-animation-vfx-negotiating-pay-salary

The Top 10 VFX Supervisors of 2019: https://www.animationmagazine.net/vfx/the-top-10-vfx-supervisors-of-2019/

Share Stories From Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Beyond: https://www.themarysue.com/women-in-visual-effects/

'Ex Machina's Sara Bennett first woman VFX supervisor to win Oscar: https://www.screendaily.com/production/ex-machinas-sara-bennett-first-woman-vfx-supervisor-to-win-oscar/5100954.article

Production_Directory: https://mbfilmmusic.ca/guide/Production_Directory.pdf

REBECCA ALLEN: http://www.newmedia-art.org/cgi-bin/show-art.asp?LG=GBR&ID=9000000000077988&na=&pna=&DOC=bio

New Media Encyclopedia: http://www.newmedia-art.org/index_en.htm

SIGGRAPH Announces 2012 Production Sessions: https://www.awn.com/news/siggraph-announces-2012-production-sessions

Nadia Magnenat Thalmann: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadia_Magnenat_Thalmann

Sylvia Moberly-Holland: http://greatwomenanimators.com/sylvia-moberly-holland/

Women’s Day special: Spotlight on woman from VFX industry who believes challenges are opportunities: https://www.animationxpress.com/latest-news/womens-day-special-spotlight-on-woman-from-vfx-industry-who-believes-challenges-are-opportunities/