An Unexpected Journey
by Kader Bagli
When I began to study audiovisual media on the Stuttgart media university, I didn’t know that my journey had just started. I would say, at that time, I had no idea, how this industry was built or shaped of in detail: how much work a film had, how many people were working day and nights to fulfill a story. After my first three semesters in a technical and more theoretical way, I started my first student production in the field of Interactive Media: making a VR film of The Metamorphosis of Franz Kafka together with a team of other students. We had a huge team, but the challenges were a lot: Creating the story for a short film, building, and managing a production plan, booking a house for the set, clothes for the actors, shooting and postproduction. At that time, I was the only girl being on set and doing the technical postproduction for previews. The whole team was waiting for my input and was giving trust in my work. That whole project, made me realize, what a little project was build of.
During that term, I applied for an internship semester at many companies. Many of them had invited me for an interview. Most of them were surprised, when they saw, that I was wearing a hijab or didn’t looked like what they were expecting. They suddenly have had pointless excuses and have tried to pass me to other companies. I was a bit frustrated how hard it can get, when applying for an internship place. The competition is big in this industry, and it is really hard to fight for your position. On top, breaking the prejudices is just possible, when people give you a chance. Otherwise you get lost in that competition. So very close to the ending of the application deadline, I applied at the R&D of the Animationsinstitut from the Filmakademie. Got a response for an interview within a day. Went there, and the team welcomed me in a very good and interested way. They accepted me the next day, and after that day I didn’t know, that my journey had just started.
Being part of my internship semester at a Research and Development team was the breaking point in my professional career. We made the Einstein Project (https://animationsinstitut.de/de/forschung/projects/digital-actors-in-documentary ), which have had a huge success later in conferences, Digital Production magazines, and technical papers. That was the first time, I was doing Compositing in a more professional way. I have achieved a huge knowledge in that semester and self-confidence, created a VR cinema integration for the FMX conference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD0zXZNrYQw ), played with game engines and was part of an amazing research Einstein production. During that time, I randomly got in conversation with some people in a tech-talk session, which they have suggested me to participate in Siggraph’s student volunteering options. So I applied for the student volunteer program after I have finished my internship, with the support of my colleague of the internship.
I started my first student animation short film the next term as an 3D artist and producer in the university, learned and struggled a lot, spent long nights and days, which had a big success in the university for its quality. Not many people trusted me, in what I was capable of, but I kept going, and tried to learn as much I could.
With that good time, I got accepted for Siggraph Vancouver’s student volunteer program, and realized that I was going out of my comfort zone, to present myself in a more international way. Flying alone to Vancouver, and planning my trip there, was giving me uncertainty. But I knew that this step in my life, would be the point to change something for myself: to trust in me, present my identity, and get a bigger network and perspective of the creative world.
Being part of a student volunteer program in Vancouver has given me a miracle of things- I had the opportunity to make long-lasting friends which have huge talents and amazing stories, got reviewed for my work, and got selected as the only student for an MPC tour (which is one of the leading VFX companies). I have seen, how the creative industry was built of, got selected as one of the 300 volunteers from the world, the only one from Germany, made amazing memories and I got the value of being welcomed for who I was. Which later gave me the strength, to start with a more self-confident feeling into this industry. Professionals in that conference mentioned, that I had a huge talent, which I honestly haven’t realized before.
After that period, I started my Erasmus semester in Leeds, UK. Explored the British culture, met new friends, had fun explorations to Iceland, Scotland, and across UK as well. I slowed down in doing my work, more to understand and experience the value of living in a mixed culture. I really enjoyed in not describing myself, in not defining myself, it was just me, and I basically welcomed everyone, who wanted to be part of my journey.
Afterwards I came back to Germany for my last semester and went to a Visual Effects event. With talking to professionals in that event, I got an offer to work as a working student in a commercial company. In that company I have achieved a lot in Compositing, even though I was doing my bachelor thesis in the 3D field. So, while I was enhancing my skills in creating more photorealistic faces in deepen my skills in the field of 3D shading, lighting, texturing, I was getting more knowledge in VFX as well with the help of working for commercials.
After I have graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering, I went to Siggraph Australia in Brisbane and have enhanced my network and my professional life again. With Siggraph I have learned how to present myself internationally, how to keep the networks, how even meeting a random person in a conference can change your entire life. I have learned that whatever we do, we have to keep going for our goals, and the right people will meet you.
Coming back from Siggraph Australia I got some job interviews and accepted RISE FX in Stuttgart. I was aiming to work there as a VFX Compositing Artist and have started there. It’s been nearly 1,5 years now working for films like, Jim Button and the Wild 13, Gunpowder Milkshake, Reminiscence Stowaway and many more films, that haven’t been published so far. The learning curve is big, working mostly as the only women in the VFX team is big for me, and showing what you are capable of and your vision to others is big as well.
Last but not least, in addition to my job, I got part of the Online Events Committee of Siggraph by the beginning of this year. We are organizing and planning livestreams and formats to support the conference committees throughout the year. Working for one of the biggest conference internationally which has a huge value in diversity and inclusion, makes me feel very proud to be part of it.
To close this topic, I want to share a quote of a TEDX talk which I really appreciate:
Success is no accident, living an incredible life is no accident. You have to do on purpose, and it starts by knowing exactly what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it,
knowing the kind of person that you need to become in order to make it happen and then programming your mind to make it happen.
Because you just have one life in which to achieve everything you are going to achieve, so you have to act accordingly…
TEDxManchester- Carrie Green
Academy Fellow 2021