We recently sat down with Klaudija Cermak one of our Compositing Tutors at Escape to discuss her career as a woman in VFX, projects she’s worked on and her advice for women wanting to get into the industry.
Klaudija teaches our short VFX Compositing courses as well as undergraduate and postgraduate ones. She has over 20 years experience on high-end commercials, broadcast programmes and feature films and has worked at all the major post-production houses in Soho including MPC, Mill, Millfilm, Framestore, Double Negative and Glassworks. Her feature film credits include ‘Gladiator’ that won an Oscar for the Best VFX, ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. A little Trivia: Her name is on one of the Magic Wand Draws at the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios.
Tell me about your career so far...
I started as a designer so I used to design title sequences for films and then I moved into commercials. I’ve worked at MP, Glassworks, Dneg and Framestore. I always tried to move between commercials and film and television work. I worked on Gladiator, Troy, Captain America, Harry Potter and most recently Black Mirror. I’ve been at Escape for a year and a half. Because I teach I used to get a lot of students asking me all sorts of questions about the industry so I wrote a book to help answer these and I’m working on my second one now.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry?
I didn’t really face any challenges when I worked in the industry, I just worked hard and focused on the work. But, when you’re starting a family it’s different. I went into labour 6 weeks early and was back in work 5 weeks later so, technically I went back to work before I had the baby. I worked hard and I was always busy. My daughter spent a lot of time at work with me and she sometimes even slept at work while I was finishing a project. I think it’s a little bit harder for women and the ratio in the industry is 20 (Men) to 1 (women). Having a child makes it harder to do certain things. It would have been a natural development for me to move into a VFX supervision role but I could only do shoots that were in London. So, I couldn't supervise films because the shoots were at least 6-8 weeks and out of the country and I didnt want to leave my daughter behind. Last year there were statistics released and everyone found out that women were being paid less than men and it was quite surprising to me as I had no idea that was the case. It’s hard to balance both a family life and working but I like to think I’ve made it work.
What inspires you?
I have a hunger for knowledge, I’m still curious about everything and I always try to improve myself. I watch a lot of online tutorials to learn how to do things better and learn new techniques. I also keep on top of what’s happening in the industry and try to adapt to what's happening as well into what I do and how I teach. I just get inspired very easily and I’m always thinking about what I can learn next. I also recently applied and was awarded fellowship.
Do you have any advice for women who want to get into the industry?
My advice is to keep learning and to the job to your best ability. Make yourself indispensable and try to balance work and life. Research the companies you want to work for. Stay focused, have a goal in mind and be flexible.