Chrissie England

ILM topper brings back VFX company's mojo

With Chrissie England in charge, Industrial Light & Magic has its mojo back.

Not that ILM was ever entirely in the doldrums. George Lucas’ famed visual effects shop in San Francisco rolled up its Oscar nominations, but there were rumblings in vfx circles that ILM’s work had gotten a little tired.

Since England ascended to president, though, the naysayers have been silenced. ILM’s work on “Pirates of the Caribbean 2” got an Oscar, and this summer the shingle is a major contributor to “Pirates 3,” “Evan Almighty,” “Transformers” and “Harry Potter 5.”

England is a kind of uber-producer for ILM, apportioning resources and crews, meeting with clients, participating in bidding and ensuring that the company makes a profit — no longer a given in vfx.

Under her leadership, ILM has also formalized its greenlighting process, which guides what projects it will bid on.

When considering a feature, she says, “We look at the director. Is it talent we want to work with, people we consider to be the best? Does it give us the chance to create groundbreaking visual imagery?”

Those decisions have let ILM cultivate valuable skills with each project, each building on the ones before.

ILM’s clients have considerable praise for the shop. DreamWorks’ Adam Goodman says, “You wish that everyone you encounter in the movie business had the level of professionalism ILM has under her leadership.”

With her four summer tentpoles opened, she is taking some time off with her family in Baja, with no phone. “I always come back from there recharged, with fresh ideas,” she says.

Vocation: “Honored to be the leader of the best vfx crew in the world.”

Recent breakthrough: “What can I say but acknowledge ‘Transformers’ and ‘Pirates 3’ — with the seamless integration and animation of CG characters and kick-ass visual effects.”

Role model: “My grandmother, because of her nonconformity, her peacekeeping, her sense of humor and her unique style.”

Career mantra: “Do whatever it takes to deliver the best under the most challenging circumstances, while taking time to laugh!”

What’s next: “Rush Hour 3,” “Lions for Lambs,” “Spiderwick Chronicles”

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