My name is Gen (Genevieve Camilleri) and I recently finished working on my first feature film as a VFX Supervisor for Mill Film, Adelaide. I started my career 11 years ago in Melbourne, Australia and have since worked as a Senior compositor, Lead Compositor, Compositing Supervisor and DFX Supervisor for various studios such as ILM Vancouver, Animal Logic Sydney and Method Studios Montreal.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending my time outdoors doing anything from hiking, climbing to snowboarding.
Tell us about the first person or studio who paid you to do VFX. How did the opportunity come about?
For my very first paid job in the VFX industry I was lucky enough to be granted an Internship through Film Victoria to work as a junior compositor/designer for a small advertising studio called Complete Post. I was informed of the Internship application by a University lecturer I had at the time. A few weeks after applying for the position and attending an interview process I received a phone call to say I was Complete Post’s preferred candidate. I then spent one year at Complete Post working on a range of TV commercials and small film projects. After completing the internship my career then naturally progressed from there.
Your career has rapidly progressed from Senior Compositor to VFX Supervisor in just three years. What strategies have you used to make this a possibility?
To be honest I just followed my heart and did the things I love to do most. I am very passionate about the creative and technical sides of VFX and how to problem solve the two so they meet together in the middle to create the best possible looking image. Along the way, I just happened to be presented with some amazing opportunities that naturally progressed my career. I think having a passion for travel also certainly helped me as I was able to freely move from one side of the world to the other within such a short period of time to broaden my opportunities.
What is a value or soft skill you wish more Compositors would cultivate?
Compositing involves being technical as well as creative. Naturally compositors tend to gravitate to one side a little more than the other; however, I think finding a balance between the two is very important and definitely a skill highly valued. It is not always easy to be a specialist in both areas so teaming up with compositors for tips and tricks in the areas you may not be as strong in is always a great way to help balance out your skill set.
What tools or processes have you implemented to make your team faster, better and/or more efficient?
It is always important to have supporting tools and processes in place to keep things organised and working efficiently. There isn’t a particular tool or process I have implemented myself but one of the most important things to running an efficient team is good verbal communication. I am a big advocate of having all team members directly communicating with each other to problem solve, understand and learn from each other. There are often cases where a lot of time is lost due to an artist/team trying to problem solve an issue in isolation. By opening up the communication, more often than not another team member may have already solved such a problem and a resolution will come about much quicker.
What piece of knowledge or advice do you wish you had in your early years of working in VFX?
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the world of “overtime” and you find yourself working nonstop for weeks or months on end. At the time it may feel like the right thing to be doing but in hindsight, your health, productivity and efficiency significantly drops. Always try your best to maintain a healthy work-life balance for both the team and yourself.
When you get stuck on a problem, what does your thought process or inner-talk sound like? What’s your process for starting to solve said problem?
If I ever find myself going around in circles a few times then I know for sure I am stuck on a problem. At that point my first step is to always step back, re-evaluate what it is I am trying to achieve and break it down to its simplest form. Sometimes it is easy to over-complicate a task and to lose sight of the original brief. By breaking it down, it helps me to look at it from a different perspective and to come up with a different idea I may not have thought of earlier. The next best thing is to share your problem with your team as the chances are somebody else may have already solved a similar issue and can help guide you in the right direction.
Tell us about your most productive failure — something that didn’t quite go to plan, perhaps in a negative way, that you ultimately learned from.
There isn’t one particular failure that comes to mind but from my experience, there is always something that doesn’t quite go to plan whether that be due to resources, pipeline, time constraints or simply inexperience.
Every project, studio, team, pipeline and client is different so the most important thing is to continually recognise your failures, learn from them and continue to grow no matter how big or small it is.
It’s painfully obvious that men outnumber women in VFX. What should everyone be doing to encourage more gender diversity in our industry, and what action can we take to help eradicate gender bias?
Yes, there is no denying that there is a gender imbalance within the VFX industry but it has certainly come a long way over the years. The very first film studio I worked at had a team of around fifty artists and only two females. Nowadays the numbers are much higher but there is still a significant lack of female leadership. I personally have never worked or come across another female VFX Supervisor before, so to be one myself now I feel is quite unique but it shouldn’t be.
There are some very talented females in the industry and I think just simply encouraging them to have the confidence to apply for more senior and leadership roles. This in return will then naturally inspire other females to both enter the industry as well as to further advance their careers.
Who inspires you?
There are many people who inspire me for different reasons from my family and friends to simply mother nature.
However, one particular person that does come to mind is Leonardo DiCaprio. Now, this is not only because of his handsome looks but simply for the quality of work he outputs. I don’t believe he has made a bad film to date and always seems to choose films that are of a very high calibre. His films always have strong storylines and character work as well as outstanding visuals and sound to back it up. My ears always perk up when I hear of a new film starring Leo and I am instantly trying to find out what VFX studio will be working on it.