CULVER CITY — Welcome to the first of what we hope is going to be an on-going series — Woman in Post. Our first interview subject is VFX producer Jenny Fulle, founder of Culver City, CA’s The Creative-Cartel (www.the-cartel.com).
Fulle worked her way up from janitor at ILM to working on big-time films like Surf’s Up and Spider-Man 2 and 3 while with Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Priest, Ghost Rider 2 and Ted with her own company.
While at Imageworks, Fulle was executive VP of production/executive producer for 11 years, overseeing and managing day-to-day production as well as strategic planning and business development for the studio.
POST: How did you get started in the industry?
JENNY FULLE: “At 18, I started as a janitor for George Lucas at ILM, and then went to the Skywalker Ranch when they we’re building it up in the Bay Area. I went from night janitor to day janitor, and then went into shipping and receiving. The mail room was a huge promotion. At some point I became a PA at ILM. My first film was Star Trek IV and Ken Ralston was the supervisor.”
POST: How did you know you wanted to go in this direction?
FULLE: “Although I was at the Ranch, it was still Lucasfilm and still kind of built around Star Wars and visual effects — that was the nucleus of the company. College wasn’t for me, and I was working at a restaurant before I started working as a janitor. I was kind of floundering a bit, and this seemed cool. Empire Strikes Back was just coming out when I started and I thought, ‘I can hang out here for awhile.’ Because the nucleus was ILM and visual effects and Star Wars, it was easy to be drawn to that. But visual effects production was never something I dreamed about.
“I didn’t see Star Wars in 1977 and say that’s what I want to do. I didn’t see Ray Harryhausen films back when I was a kid and say that’s what I want to do. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The frenetic energy that is around visual effects drew me in very quickly. After I was exposed to that chaotic craziness, I became a junkie immediately.”
POST: What has been your favorite project to work on so far?
FULLE: “If you would have asked me that question three years ago I would have said Apollo 13. It was an amazing project. Ron Howard and Todd Hallowell, and this amazing team; they are great filmmakers. Today though, the project itself is less important than if it’s fulfilling in some way. Usually, having some sort of challenge in what needs to be achieved to meet the goals of the film, both creatively and monetarily, fulfills me. Since forming The Creative-Cartel, I have loved every film we’ve worked on. They have all had unique challenges to overcome, and I feel we’ve knocked it out of the park on every single film.”
POST: When you started The Creative-Cartel you came up with a business model. Can you describe the process?
FULLE: “After I left Imageworks, I took time off. I felt like things were changing, like it was a new dawn. The old days of milk and honey and all the entitlements we were afforded were changing, so I took stock. I wanted to be able to do things in a different way. In a way that would allow me to have more choices.
“The big facilities were becoming more of an outdated model, and I still believe that. I believe there’s room for some of them but not all of them, and we are seeing the bigger facilities continue to stay relevant and change.
“I wanted to do it differently, and we started out on Priest, and it’s really kind of evolved. We started with no infrastructure, and we built the infrastructure as we needed it on that one. A little bit could carry over, and we built a little more infrastructure on Ghost Rider 2, and then on Ted. Today we are 15 people and we are doing near-set dailies and lab. We have all sorts of servers and storage, and are managing all of these FTPs, pushing data all over the world. We evolved into what the market was asking for.”
POST: So what’s next?
FULLE: “We are in post production on After Earth now. We have a couple of other scripts we are looking at and budgeting for visual effects. Two visual effects films at a time is a really good number for my company, and we are making a big push with near-set dailies and lab, and the tools that we are writing to kind of automate that process of the digital images and metadata, from camera all the way through to final DI. We are trying to take the mystery and confusion out of that, and make it a simpler for filmmakers dealing with that process in post.”
POST: There are certainly more men than woman in this industry, but that didn’t hold you back. Any tips for others?
FULLE: “I’ve never felt it’s been more difficult being a woman. It’s really just about believing in yourself and putting one foot in front of the other.”