Janet Lewin, SVP of Industrial Light & Magic, talks about the evolution of StageCraft, VFX challenges and more [Interview]

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You’ve been with ILM for so long, so I was wondering if you were surprised to learn anything about ILM’s history or their early work on “Star Wars” and other projects?

I wouldn’t say surprised. I would say inspired and reminded of the incredible talent and the risk taking, and the fun, and just kind of the breakneck speed that ILM had to operate at, even back then, to achieve George’s vision and take the risk. But it was just a true honor and inspiration to hear from so many people who felt like ILM stepped up and solved their issues as true filmmaking partners. I think that spirit continues today, but that was, I think for me, the biggest takeaway.

What do you think of the relationship between blockbusters and visual effects today? Is there too much reliance on computer-generated imagery for it to sometimes act as a crutch? What is your opinion on that?

I think that’s true for some movies, of course. I think there is no one size fits all. Visual effects are a tool, and they can be used very, very well, and can be invisible or just support the story. And then there can be an overreliance on it, absolutely. I think audiences have become pretty savvy about this approach to filmmaking. I think we all yearn for more authentic storytelling where the visuals are part of the scope and scale, but that doesn’t take away or overemphasize other aspects of the story.

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