Jean Bolte

Digital Texture Painter
Industrial Light & Magic

What was the moment you knew you wanted to be in the visual effects industry?
I went from working in theater, I was in London at the time, and there were films being made there - high end visual effects movies - and they were looking really hard for people to things like costumes and props and wigs and makeup. I did feel very drawn to prosthetic makeup and the things Dick Smith and Rick Baker were doing. That stuff on the screen to me was just magic and that's the kind of thing that drew me in most to movies. I will never forget, I was in London, and went to see The Abyss. I saw that water worm on the screen with the face and she puts her finger in there and I was like, "ILM can do anything."

What were your first impressions?
The first movies I worked on - I don't know how describe how fun that was. I don't know how to describe that and how happy I was. It just doesn't get any better than that, being on the set with all the chaos going on around you.

Did you have mentors or support networks throughout your career that really helped push you forward?
I'm not a great innovator; I am not one of these people who are always coming up with a new way of doing something. But what I do think I am is I'm always a student. And I am never happier than when I have found somebody who is doing something new and I am able to get in there and try out their approach.

There's the argument that people say we need to hit a quota of 50/50 men and women. But there are also people who say you should just hire the best person for the job. What are your thoughts and feelings about that?
Should there be more of an emphasis on encouraging women at the expense of maybe not hiring men - should we make an exception for women? No, absolutely not, and we don't need to. Women are as every bit as capable as men at doing anything in this industry and all we need to do is keep hiring the best people and keep the bar as high as possible and there will continue to be more and more women who are doing this and doing the best work possible.

Any words of advice you have for future generations of women interested in VFX?
I think it is very very important if you want to be in the visual effects business to not be reliant on anything except what you can create with your own hands. Knowing software is great but if you are dependent on that, it is not going to serve you well. I think you should draw, you should paint, you should sculpt you should make your own little films. Just use the most primitive tools possible, you know, paper, pen, paint, clay and then you will always be able to work in whatever medium comes out. Because in 10 or 20 years it will be completely different than it is now.

Learn More About Jean!

Years in Visual Effects: 35
Education: University of Colorado at Boulder - BA
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri, USA