News 17.06.21

FIRST NATIONS CREW SPOTLIGHT: GEORGIA CROFT AND JAMIE LIPSHAM



4-11 July is NAIDOC Week in Australia. It is a week where the rich history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are celebrated across the country. It is also just one week out of 52. We talked to Production Assistants and Indigenous Australians Georgia Croft and Jamie Lipsham from Industrial Light & Magic’s Sydney studio about their careers, about diversity in the VFX industry, life as a PA, and how important it is to remember and bear witness to Australia’s black history all through the year.

Georgia Croft, Production Assistant, ILM Sydney Studio

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I am a young Indigenous woman from Yuin Nation. However, I was born and raised in Western Sydney. I originally started out as an AFL ArtsReady Trainee, where I was able to work alongside Screen NSW. This is what began my passion and my drive to work within the screen industry and it’s amazing to finally be working in production.

What is your role at ILM?

I am a Production Assistant based in Sydney, currently working on a TV show, alongside the production team, artist, leads and heads of the departments both in Sydney and Singapore.

Georgia Croft. Courtesy of ILM.

Describe a typical day in the life of a PA.

The one amazing factor in my day-to-day life is that no day is the same. A “typical day” is mostly organising calendars, meetings, reviews and ensuring that the whole crew is prepared for the day. You are somewhat of a professional organiser and the go-to person for anything. Still being new to the VFX industry, I found myself in meetings where I just sit and listen, and really expose myself to all elements of the VFX. 

How did you get into the VFX industry?

Is it going to sound bad if I say: “by accident”? One Friday night, I was looking for jobs that centred a little more around the screen industry. At the time, I had finished watching The Mandalorian Season 1, and I remembered that ILM’s Sydney studio was still fairly new. I really just took a chance, and saw what they had to offer. I applied for a position, didn’t get it (but I didn’t let that stop me), then I was offered an interview for a PA role. I was offered the job and took it immediately. I’ve never looked back since. 

What has it been like working at ILM’s Sydney studio so far?

It has honestly been a dream! I’ve never felt so comfortable and happy in a job before. The environment and work culture within is amazing and accommodating.

What advice would you give to fellow Indigenous Australians who want to work in the VFX industry?

Look for entry level jobs if you’re beginning or not super confident, the interviewers will always notice your passion.

“Take the shot! The only thing that holds you back is yourself. The one piece of advice that I can truly give is that you can gain everything and lose nothing from a job interview. The industry is always in need of new voices, culture and work. Teach yourself too, there is no shame in it. If it’s your passion, go for it, nothing is ‘unrealistic’.”

Georgia Croft, Production Assistant, ILM Sydney studio

How do we make the VFX industry more diverse?

Diversity starts with education on both sides. If young people aren’t exposed to this industry, they are not going to know that it exists and it’s looking for people just like them. The one thing I am learning about the VFX industry that has been a (good) shock to the system, is how willing everyone is to answer questions and to teach me. I can speak for a lot of young people when I say moving into a new industry is one of the most terrifying things to do, especially as an Indigenous woman. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I feel like I am going to have such a cliché answer, however, I can put a spin on it! 30-year-old me: I want her to be happy, in an amazing job, be a mentor to other young Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. I really stopped “planning” for my future after I left high school. I left saying I was going to be a lawyer, and now I help make Star Wars shows. Anything can happen in life!

“If you see an opportunity, take it, never let anyone take your power, prove the negative people in your life or around you wrong.”

Georgia Croft, Production Assistant, ILM Sydney studio

What does NAIDOC week mean to you?

For me, NAIDOC week is an opportunity to celebrate the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s important to me to share my culture with others and also to learn from other communities.

Who is the most inspiring person in your life?

Honestly, it has to be my mother, she’s always been my biggest supporter in literally anything I do in my life. She’s the one who reminds me “who I am”. There are also so many inspiring women and men in this industry that I have met. I remember when Taika Waititi won the Academy Award in 2020 and I was with my family, glued to the screen, yelling. He gave his acceptance speech and said “To all the Indigenous kids….We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well.” My mum immediately swatted me on the leg and said “See!”, as if he was in our living room directly talking to me and me alone. It really started a fire in me that year to get back into the screen industry.

(L-R) Georgia Croft and Georgia Croft with her Mum. Courtesy of ILM.

Jamie Louise Lipsham, Production Assistant, ILM Sydney Studio

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’m a Budawang woman of the Yuin nation, but I grew up in Western Sydney.  I’m a born traveller and nature-lover, and I always find time to get out of the city. I have a background in sound design, but I’m loving the whole new world that is VFX and filmmaking. 

What is your role at ILM?

I’m a Production Assistant here in our Sydney studio. I work on a show alongside the rest of my production team, all the artists and their leads, clients and our international ILM counterparts. PA’s are great middlemen, finders and planners  – professional problem solvers!

Describe a typical day in the life of a PA

It’s tricky to describe –  every PA has totally different skill sets and daily tasks, and it changes completely from project to project. Most of my day is spent preparing for reviews, managing calendars, ensuring the studio and show has access to all the data we need, organising it, and helping people find it!

How did you get into the VFX industry?

From a young age, I’ve been obsessed with the entertainment industry, making noise, being dramatic and putting on a show. I studied sound design at university which led me into a whole new world of sound, filmmaking, and getting involved and creative. I ended up on the ILM career portal and saw that a PA job had been published, so I took a chance and it worked! 

What has it been like working at ILM’s Sydney studio so far?

Overall, it’s been super exciting! The hardest part so far has been getting on board with the company and industry terminology, but everyone genuinely can’t help enough. ILM’s Sydney studio has a lot more growth to look forward to and it’s been incredible to be a part of such an early stage of that. I’m looking forward to seeing how we grow as a company.

What advice would you give to fellow Indigenous Australians who want to work in the VFX industry?

Use your connections and network amongst mob too – do you have a friend of a friend in the industry?

“Give it a red hot go! Apply for everything you think would suit you and that you think you’d enjoy. There’s a lot of change stirring in the VFX and creative industries, and there’s a place for all of us in and amongst it.”

Jamie Louise Lipsham, Production Assistant, ILM Sydney studio

How do we make the VFX industry more diverse?

We get closer to diversity when we get our company and our industry to better reflect the makeup of who is watching and enjoying what we make and do. ILM Sydney is in a huge growth stage at the moment, and it’s great to see lots of people, and different types of people flowing in.

Any tips for people who want to educate themselves on the history of Indigenous Australians? 

First and foremost, we should always be conscious of what land or ‘Country’ we are on, and who we should be paying respects to. When in the Sydney studio, we’re on Eora land and should be mindful of the Gadigal People. Taking note of this is important, as it allows us to bear witness to shift from an 80,000+ year old Blak history, to what is now often incorrectly considered a very ‘young’ country.

We should also begin or continue to support Indigenous people by promoting and listening to Blak music, watching the work of Blak filmmakers, reading the work of Blak authors and supporting Blak businesses – financially or otherwise. Learn about us and from us, through our art, we’re storytellers from birth. 

Lastly, if anything, we all need to remember that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sovereignty was never ceded; The Stolen Generations aren’t just a thing of the past but are very much in the present too.

Jamie Louise Lipsham. Courtesy of ILM.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

This is one of those questions where people often talk about their dreams and aspirations, but one thing I’d decided long ago was to not plan my future. I’ve learnt to take on any and all opportunities that present themselves, and that it’ll always be worth it in the long run.

What does NAIDOC week mean to you?

Alongside the other 51 in the calendar year, NAIDOC week is a great time for learning and support. It’s a time to remember and bear witness to Australia’s Blak history, and refocus on the ongoing needs of Indigenous Australian People. I personally use this time to listen to Indigenous music, watch Indigenous films, read books by Indigenous authors and get creative myself. We should also use this time to have those difficult conversations and spotlight what needs to be done in order to bring us closer together, and extend this beyond NAIDOC Week. 

Who is the most inspiring person in your life?

The person I draw the most inspiration from is my grandfather, Ted. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014, but his attitude towards life is something I’ll carry forward and express to those around me forever. He decided one day, after completing his three years UK National Service, that he wanted a change and disliked the Portsmouth weather enough that he’d jump on a ship and join his Aunt Bib in Australia.

“My grandfather Ted showed me that there’s always time for a laugh, and to never take things too seriously. He was fearless, and never afraid to jump in the deep end to learn something new. This approach to life is how I’ve gained most of my life experience and ended up with some of the most incredible opportunities – ILM included.”

Jamie Louise Lipsham, Production Assistant, ILM Sydney studio
Jamie Louise Lipsham with grandfather, Ted. Courtesy of ILM.

Head over to ILM’s YouTube channel to see their skills in action!

CONTACT
Luke Hetherington
Executive in Charge, Singapore & Sydney studios
[email protected]
www.ilm.com

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