Women are an integral and crucial part of the BOT VFX workforce. And to see more and more talent in what has been a quintessentially male-dominated industry for a while now, is always a point of pride for us. At BOT, women not only add to the culture and output, but also are the driving force in many ways.
So, what better time than International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month to celebrate them and get a glimpse into their journey? We spoke to a few women at BOT. Here’s what they had to say!
A Feeling Of Personal Pride
It’s a special moment for all of us when women choose to enter the arena of VFX. BOT’s favourite RJ and Prep Artist “Radio Girl” Sharmila J shares, “It feels like I’ve achieved something great! Especially when I see my name in the credits of my favorite movies and series!” And it suffices to say, that pride is rightly earned.
In general, there’s always a sense of curiosity about what compels an individual to choose a field as creatively exciting and demanding as VFX. We asked Matchmove Artist Reshma C what lured her into this industry. “I have always been curious about the VFX industry and what goes on behind the screens of cinematic works. That got my interest,” she tells us. And did she experience any roadblocks in this journey? Reshma grins, “This industry is not just about men. If you’re a woman and have the interest and curiosity, you can achieve and live your passion every day!”
And what’s it like living your passion every day at BOT VFX? Production Superstar Simran Jain chimes in, “BOT VFX is my first experience in the industry, and it’s been amazing! The culture is welcoming, friendly and above all, inspiring.” HR Executive Ramya K beams with pride over the women at BOT: “I love hearing their excitement about the opportunity to work on shows like The Mandalorian, Game of Thrones, Captain Marvel, Stranger Things … the list is endless!”
There is still much work to be done in terms of a broader work culture at the big picture level in the industry, to make this an equitable environment for women. When we asked the team about the challenges they faced, they had poignant points to make. Matchmove and Rotomation Trainer Neetu R tells us, “I have been in the industry for 13 years, and I would be lying if I said my gender hasn’t impacted my career. Being a woman, we are automatically expected to care for our jobs AND our family. But I am grateful that BOT continues to create a seamless and empowering work culture.” HR Jr. Executive Kamna Bohra confirms this company culture: “BOT is a place that has always treated each of us equally, irrespective of gender.”
Our Admin Supergirl Divya C believes in not giving heed to the naysayers. “Discrimination comes from within, and I don’t believe in giving it any space.”
For the Love of the Game…
Despite the challenges, these ladies continued to persist and stayed true to their goal. What is it about VFX that pushed them to stick to their goals? Talent Management Exec Vinitha M echoes the general sentiment of her contemporaries, “Creativity. My earliest memory of VFX was when BOT came to our college to train us on VFX. Since then there has been no looking back.”
HR Executive Muhil Vahini bubbles over with her answer: “Excitement! Now when I’m watching movies, I’m in on the secrets of how it’s done. It feels out of this world!” Senior Prep Artist Rinki R adds, “I came for the thrill of working on Hollywood films, and I stayed for the amazing highs my work brings me every day.”
One may not easily equate working in VFX with empowerment, but Roto Artist Sangeetha D gives us a beautiful insight, “This industry has made me feel very liberating and independent about myself.” “That is one reason I never want to stop being a woman in VFX!” chimes in Prep Artist Suman Prajapati.
It’s not all about seeing one’s name in the credits roll of Hollywood films. For some, the joy and satisfaction comes from watching others work. Especially for Head of HR Shashwati Chowdhury, who says, “From my background as an Academic Head, nothing compares to the pride I feel seeing my students get credits in the movies they work so hard on. Now at BOT, I’m thrilled to see our teams doing amazing work. They make the impossible to be possible!”
BOT: Where Empowerment is in the DNA
At BOT VFX, empowering women to shatter glass ceilings and be masters of their own destiny isn’t an annual event. It’s an everyday thing, practiced until it’s a part of every team member’s DNA. This can be seen from the way the team has each other’s back. Swetha Madapuri, one of BOT’s Associate Producers muses, “It’s really amazing to see how far women have come in this industry. Personally, I owe it to Sreyans, Hetal, and Nirshid for showing me how to be a BOT superwoman!”
As BOT’s first female hire at the company’s start in 2008, VFX Executive Producer Hetal Jain has watched over the years as quiet, demure women on staff have blossomed into strong, outspoken leaders making significant contributions. “I’ve seen this shift more and more as we’re watching strong female characters like Rey Skywalker and Wonder Woman on the screen, and knowing that Patty Jenkins and other really great women directors are at the helm of successful shows,” she observes. “It really does inspire us to reach further in the industry, especially in a field where men have stepped up first.”
Roto Artist Shenbagavalli M started as an intern in the roto department at BOT five years ago: “I came in with a fresh new mind, with no idea about how far I could go. BOT let me learn from early mistakes as a stepping stone into success as a VFX artist. Now I know I’ll never stop learning!” Production Coordinator Nandhini R’s path at BOT has taken her from her start also as a roto intern, through serving as a Roto Artist, and then moving into the production side. She’s proud to be a BOT, and she hopes to inspire more women to explore the world of VFX, saying, “The challenges of this industry are so exciting! There’s always something new to grow into, technical and artistic skills to conquer. There’s never a dull moment.”
The Next Frontier
Executive Admin Ruth Holleman gives smart advice to our ladies, “VFX is a very creative environment where women can shine, drawing on their capacities to be expressive, to observe many factors at the same time, and to manage outcomes efficiently. I see these female strengths as a set of advantages that the male-dominated VFX industry would do well to cultivate.”
VFX Executive Producer Camille Geier echoes the sentiment and adds, “I wholly agree that the best should get hired. Many times the best is a woman, but preconceived notions about a woman’s family responsibilities can get in the way. The reality is that a lot of times, women work harder because they are so good at juggling so many things. I hope to see more hiring managers let go of those falsehoods.”
Hetal affirms that BOT’s award-winning HR team is at the forefront of this issue of being supportive of women entering VFX. “BOT’s company leaders have opened these doors by recognizing women’s strengths, and by not hesitating to put them in strong positions,” she points out, “and our BOT women have been proving the wisdom of this approach with their excellence on the job.” She observes further, “The greatest strides in the industry so far have been with putting women in producer roles. The next frontier is to hire more women VFX artists, and then support their moving up to become supes and leads.”
And to that we say a loud and resounding, “Amen!” Happy Women’s Day and Women’s History Month to all the women at BOT and around the world, too!
Visit BOT’s LinkedIn page for a video tribute to a parent’s aspiration and encouragement for their daughter to challenge, to dream and to achieve more, beautifully woven together with words, visuals, and music: Celebrating Women’s Day with Sand Art by BOT Swadesh Ranjan