A Dream becoming Reality

Four weeks ago I started working at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and a childhood dream of mine became reality. I am thrilled to be part of this ground-breaking visual effects studio that has created some of the most stunning imagery in movie history.

How did I get here?

Star Wars fascinated me as a child, and I looked for every resource I could find (pre-internet) about how those films were made. Reading biographies of Walt Disney, George Lucas, and Ralph McQuarrie gave me knowledge I couldn’t find anywhere else. Behind-the-scenes documentaries and DVD features fed my curiosity. They were my first filmmaking teachers.

Twenty years ago, I was able to attend two presentations in San Rafael by people who were working at ILM: one by Model Project Supervisor: Lorne Peterson, and one by Animation Director: Rob Coleman. They discussed the usage of miniatures and CGI in filmmaking. These talks were so inspiring that I knew I wanted to work at ILM someday.

After that, I made my own movies, studied, worked, and did a lot of growing up. In the process, I gave up on this dream multiple times. Rejections from film schools, film festivals, and film/animation/VFX studios signalled my work wasn’t good enough. Believing that I could someday become a good enough filmmaker/artist, and figuring out how to do that were the challenging parts. So I turned to teaching English as a job and filmmaking as a hobby. I could have continued on that path, but I was driven to keep looking for collaborative, creative outlets and opportunities. This led me back to the VFX industry.

In the past four years, I’ve helped teach over eighty students at Lost Boys School of VFX that I can proudly say are working in many of the top VFX studios (including ILM). They helped me just as much, pushing the limits of my knowledge and repeatedly proving their skills to Supervisors and the companies that hired them out of school. It’s a job I loved and didn’t expect to leave. But thanks to the encouragement and support of family and friends, I applied to ILM again. And now I’m here.

This is the year I reached two lifetime goals: working for ILM and writing/publishing a children’s book. Thanks to my wife, parents, grandparents, mentors, and everyone who has encouraged and believed in me. You made all of this possible.

Love, Peace, and Blessings,

-AZ

The stars and our dreams look so far away, but that shouldn’t stop us from reaching for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *