Lucasfilm Singapore ramping up for feature project

By AMRITA VALECHA | 4 June, 2010 - 16:25
Lucasfilm Singapore had recently been to India and the good news is that they are working on a top secret CGI feature film project. And the buck does not stop here there is more, Lucasfilm Singapore is hiring extensively from all over the world! Animation Xpress Asia Pacific's Amrita Valecha caught up with Heather Brown, Recruiter, Lucasfilm Singapore to know more about the global talent Lucasfilm Singapore is looking for.

What is the kind of talent are you looking for and what is the response you have got at this expo?

Given our expansion plans for the next couple of years we are really covering all kind of talent. We are recruiting for a very big project and recruiting up in the order of the production cycle starting with modelers, textures, riggers and moving on to animators, lighting and compositing artists.
Right now we are hiring extensively in modeling and rigging and texturing and once those departments are filled, we will move on to the next department. The response has been crazy.If you speak to 500 people and you find 5, it is totally worth it. Finding amazing talent is always such a joy. We have seen some artists already whose work we are very happy sharing with our team back in Singapore.

Lucas has always hired from India, how has your response been and which other regions are you looking at?
India is a great source of talent for us. Indian industry is matured as compared to other industries in other regions. Also what is fantastic about Indian artists is their command of English language, so in terms of their integration in the studio it is always a very positive experience. We do have a lot of Malaysians in the studio as well and quite a few Koreans. That is the best thing about Singapore; it is such a great mix of talent of all over the world. The studio has got over 40 nationalities, that's one of the exciting things for an Indian artist that you are going to come to an international environment where your learning from people from different backgrounds, cultures, you wont just learn more about the world, but you would learn more about yourself on how you work best with different cultures and also the energy and the excitement that all the different cultures bring to the work place.

It is really very hard to describe how fantastic the Lucasfilm Singapore environment is. Singapore is such an exciting place to work. We are working on new international projects all the time. For a long time people thought that Lucasfilm Singapore is just the Clone War studio but it is more,at Industrial Light and Magic we did nearly 200 shots on Iron Man too and to have that kind of caliber to do work for such a project is such a privilege and a great opportunity for an artist to work in Singapore.
Could you give us a brief on your background?
I have been in Lucasfilm Singapore for over a year now. I come from a fine art background and worked as a designer for a number of years. I have been blessed with a really good eye for talent and artistic skills.

It's really exiting for me to come to India and meet artists face to face. There have been some people I have met during the course of this trip whom I have spoken to on the phone so it's nice to put faces to the voices.

I would go as far as to say that it is my dream job. I still wake up each morning and pinch myself that I work for Lucas Film and I feel everybody who comes to work for this company there is such a passion since it is such a big name in this industry. When I hire artists, I always say welcome to the Lucasfilm family because it is like a family and we all look out for each other. There are a lot of things that we do which makes it an incredible place to work at. We get to go for two free movies a month, there are a lot of parties and it's such a privilege to work for a cultural phenomenon and to help people to take their first step to the journey of their career.

It is very instinctive and you see that sometimes the artists just get it. I think with any kind of artistic discipline natural talent can me moulded and what I am constantly looking for more than anything is the enthusiasm and the passion and a real desire to do better and to take your own skills to another level. Interestingly enough the ones that I always tend to see are the people who love and breathe what they do. Some of the best modelers that I have spoken to, they model all day and then they go home at night and model at night. It is really that the artists working in Lucasfilm are obsessive of what they do and those are the artists who tend to be really successful.

What are the latest developments at Lucasfilm Singapore?
What I can tell you is that the Clone War team is working on season 3, and season 2 recently got aired in the US and is hugely successful and is the number one watched show on Cartoon Network. I don't know any 9 year old boy who doesn't love the Clone war and they are working really hard on season 3 at this moment. It gets bigger, better and crazier and more insane for a TV show. ILM is starting work on a new project. Well if it's the next summer blockbuster it's probably from Industrial Lights and Magic. ILM generally works on multiple projects. LucasArts Singapore is working on a project in conjunction with the US. They will release Monkey Island 2 for the iPhone on 7 July. Our other project is definitely our secret and it's our biggest project and that is what we are recruiting for. It is going to be very interesting and different and also make a lot of people really proud to work there.

What is the current team size in Lucasfilm Singapore?
The studiois around 400 which are split between Lucasfilm Animation Singapore, ILM Singapore, LucasArts Singapore. We are looking at hiring extensively this year.

We are looking for hiring in Asia Pacific, might be going to Australia and would definitely be at Siggraph Asia and CG Overdrive as well.

How easy was it to move to Singapore and live there?
I have been in Singapore since 5 years now so it has been a while.. It is an amazing place to live and so easy to integrate there and as soon as I landed in Singapore, I actually felt settled. It is such a multi cultured society and there is something here for any kind of nationality. Singapore has got so much potential and opportunities, you can go there and take your career to another level and in Lucas specifically as we are working on International projects it's a balance between doing incredible work and your personal work.

The Singapore government is really supportive and we love working with Contact Singapore. They help us with people who want to join Lucasfilm with the cost of living between their country and Singapore. The Ministry of Manpower runs so efficiently in Singapore, getting a work visa is really easy, it's a very clear and straight forward process. The government really encourages this industry. Also the infrastructure is so strong. When I talk to all the people who are coming from oversees, I tell them about me because I have been in my home town and then moved and it is the most exciting thing that you have ever done. You just want to take up the opportunity and not wake up after a couple of years and regret not doing it.
Could you tell us about the Jedi Master?
The Jedi Program is our entry level program. It is a 6 month program, 3 months it is the intensive training by the industry specialist. So if you go in to compositing, you would be trained by the best ILM compositors. The other 3 months is spent working on production, where you can get one to one mentorship with experienced artists. In some cases you have just graduated from a university and 3 months later you are working on shots which are going to be used in Iron Man 2. We take 12 artists for every track and they go through intensive training and if you successfully complete the program, you might be offered a full time position at Lucas Film Singapore. It is a paid internship and you get a salary every month.

This program has a very high success rate, because we have invested money and time in these artists. To choose the 12 best artists, they have to go through a test. We are just about to start the organic modeling test, you are given an orchid to model, the source material of orchid and then you have to model it and submit the file back to us. From there we identify people who have raw talent who will be able to do the program. After that there is also an interview to know your skills and your previous work. Then the decision will be made keeping in mind all those factors. We have these training programs through out the year so one can check out to know the latest programs. It is an incredible opportunity for upcoming artists and my advice to them is that start looking for the upcoming programs and preparing for it and put it in your portfolio. So it is the training that the money can't buy.

We try to tell people to keep their demo reels small around 2 minutes. We don't have the time to watch 8 minutes particularly for Jedi Master which is for graduates or artists with 1-2 years of experience.

The Jedi Masters Program is the most extensive training program ever offered by Lucasfilm. Its goal is to identify talented young artists and train them under the mentorship of instructors from Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm Animation and LucasArts.

The Jedi Masters Program closes the gap between instruction offered by traditional digital media schools and the rigorous requirements of the video game, visual effects and animation industries.Trainees who complete the program and demonstrate an appropriate skill level will be eligible for positions at Lucasfilm Singapore.

How does one apply at Lucas Film?
All of our jobs are advertised on our website and they can upload their resume and profile. They get their user name and password so they can constantly log on and update their information on a regular basis. Keep a reminder of the user name and password of Lucasfilm so that you can update your information as and when and it is not outdated and make sure you have given the right contact details. Our web link is