Society diversity

Visual Effects Society honors include call for diversity and inclusion – The Hollywood Reporter

As the Visual Effects Company marks its 25th anniversary, the annual VES awards ceremony on Friday included a celebration as well as a call for more diversity and inclusion, as well as a greater effort to achieve work-life balance personal amid industry-wide attention to the long hours guarded by many Visual effects artists within current business models.

On Friday night at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, honorees included the three-time Oscar winner and Pixar creative director Pete Docter and Pam Hogarth, veterinarian and VFX educator.

Hogarth received the VES Founders Award as well as VES Life Membership, and sent a message of community while urging more work towards diversity and inclusion. “The reason we’re here is for the community,” she said. “We do this because we love the people around us and the Company. We are so lucky to work with smart, talented and committed people.

But she added that looking around the room, the number of women, compared to years ago, is still limited. “It’s better, not much better, but better,” she said. “As a society, we can do better, on gender and in all areas.”

In addition to Hogarth, lifetime membership was awarded to Jeff Barnes, Patricia “Rose” Duignan, Toni Pace Carstensen, David Tanaka, and recently retired VES Executive Director Eric Roth. Tanaka, Tony Clark, Jeff Kleiser, Gene Kozicki and Rick Sayre have been named VES Fellows.

Docter, who was introduced as an honorary VES member by Pixar President Jim Morris, had a good laugh with his remarks. “It was a dream of mine to join VES without having to pay,” Docter joked, thanking VES and acknowledging the Pixar team. Of Morris, he said, “Jim taught me so much about storytelling and running a studio. … Thank you for all you’ve done for this industry and for me.”

Morris was the founding president of VES. “It’s really gratifying to see how the Society has grown. It’s all on the backs of people giving their personal time,” he said after the ceremony. “I think at the first meeting we had 15 or 18 people.” Today, the Society has approximately 4,000 members.

Accepting life membership, former VES president Barnes recalled co-founding a startup and his first VES board meeting. “As accomplished as everyone was in the room, they were generous,” he said of those in attendance. “It will and always will be a group effort. The countless hours donated by so many have had a marked impact on all of us.… [And] there’s another small start-up or individual who holds all the cards, and your efforts could help them achieve their dreams.

“Family and balanced lives matter,” Duignan said of accepting lifetime membership. She noted that remote work-from-home systems introduced during the pandemic could help strike a better balance.

Visual effects pro, historian and new Fellow Kozicki said: “At a time when so much is being written about the challenges of our industry, I think it’s important that there is a society that can celebrate the achievements artists.”

During the ceremony, VES inducted five into its Hall of Fame: Mary Ellen Bute, Alice Guy-Blache, Grace Hopper, Bill Kovacs and George Pal.

Welcoming outgoing Executive Director Eric Roth after 19 years at the helm of the Company, Board Chair Lisa Cooke announced the new Roth Virtual Museum of Visual Effects, saying, “Eric leaves an indelible mark on our society”.