Where are all the women in the VFX industry? The question arises because there are fewer women in the VFX industry. Is it due to the lack of creativity? Well, I doubt that. Lack of dedication? Not at all. Tight deadlines? No way! Inflexible work hours? Absolutely not! Then, What is it? Let’s dive right into it.
Taking an example of myself- I am a woman with a progressive frame of mind, an avid explorer and curious about visual content, especially behind the scenes. Being the curious self, I landed at a place where I had the opportunity to explore and give shape to my curiosity with words. That’s how I started my journey with the VFX industry. No matter how progressive we think we are as a society, the fact remains that there are still scant women professionals in the VFX industry and women at leadership positions are even less. To understand it’s the case and how welcoming the VFX industry is for women leaders, we reached out to Technicolor India head of studio for film and episodic visual effects Kranti Sarma.
“My journey has been a long one, but also a good one at that! I have had bosses and mentors who believed in me. And I also believed in myself. However confident one is, there will be people around us who will criticize, pull us down as well as those who push us to do our best and nurture us. One gets mixed emotions while at the workplace. I have always focused on the positive, and on what helps me move forward. There is a difference between men and women, however, at work, we are all the same. I would say whoever pushes the bar with conviction and dedication moves forward irrespective of their gender,” Sarma shared how she started her journey.
Sarma spearheads the operations at Indian vertical which has witnessed a notable growth rate in workforce; from around 500 artists to a whopping 2000 artists and technicians who have become a solid and crucial team that crafts visual marvels across all channels of entertainment including studio features, international co-productions, and high-end episodic series, connecting larger audiences.
Naturally, managing such an enormous team is no mean feat so we were curious to know about her fundamental strategies to maintain order in the team. “There have been a few, such as being part of the team, fostering an environment of learning and growth, instilling trust, empowering an individual in challenging projects, driving through accountability and most importantly running a business with heart in it.”
Many might harbour this preconceived notion that for a woman at a leadership position it is a challenging task. Smashing the stereotype, she answers, “I would not term them as challenges but rather define them as opportunities of learning to adapt. Every individual faces challenge and challenges are not gender-specific. Challenges are thrown at a ‘role’. It’s up to us, as to how we perceive it and take it on. My male colleagues have been very professional and supportive of my career. They push my limits and foster an environment for growth too. I think we are in an era where our counterparts treat us with respect and equality.”
We live in a democratic country wherein our constitution guarantees equal rights to men and women. However, in practice, we seldom see that happening. Let’s not get into the cases of moral policing, body shaming and thousand other unspoken injustices which are meant for cocooning women behind the societal walls. And above all, the fear within us has been the biggest culprit standing in the way of success. To actually raze down the societal walls and overcome our fears, we have to first empower and accept ourselves the way we are. And it is true because of these reasons, there are very few women in industries including the VFX industry.
However, the scenario seems to be evolving as Sarma shares, “Earlier women have not chosen VFX as a choice of career. It’s both a career option and an industry that’s matured rapidly over the last decade. Historically, the work hours restricted women from entering VFX, but companies are creating new policies that are making it more attractive for women to participate. There has been a lack of women in leadership roles and a lack of awareness of what is required to it as a career option. Technicolor has outreach programs at schools and at the college level to try and make women aware of VFX as a career option. Technicolor has added appx 600 women artists in India in the last few years. We are always striving for more.”
She is the woman leader in the VFX Scenario, leading a workforce from India that strives to seek creative excellence and bringing accolades to the studio. She believes that “leadership is a responsibility and behavior “and her secret leadership mantra is “I think, I represent – strong emotional intelligence, passion, and accountability.”
She further enlightens that to empower more and more young female minds it is crucial to have outreach programs at schools and colleges and educate about the VFX industry. “It will be necessary by giving more women a chance while hiring freshers would be a good place to start,” she added.
On account of women’s day, she shares this inspiring message to those women who want to take VFX as a career option that, “Every challenge has an opportunity. Believe in yourself and grab the opportunity. Women have a natural flair for creativity and in bringing passion to what they do. These attributes are a great start to your VFX journey.”
Taking cue from her journey, I vow to break the monotony and empower women to achieve their dreams which they have envisioned for themselves.
Happy International Women’s Day!!