Luma Picture’s Monika Batchelor Shares How CG Futures Started Her Career

Luma Picture’s Monika Batchelor Shares How CG Futures Started Her Career
February 19, 2019 CG Futures


Born in Wangaratta, Victoria, Monika Batchelor is an alumni of Rising Sun Picture’s In-house Roto/Paint & Tracking training program. After winning the U.S’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery, she moved to Los Angeles and through her CG Future’s connections, was able to take a class at Gnomon School of Visual Effects and Animation for Film and Games.  Her teacher at Gnomon recommended her as a Compositor (in house) on Hulu’s The First.  Since working at Hulu, she’s worked on titles such as Captain Marvel, and Goosebumps: A Haunted Halloween as a Jr. Nuke Artist at Lola Visual Effects and is now working as a Roto/Paint Artist at Luma Picture’s Santa Monica office.

Q: How did you get involved with CG Futures?

A: I’ve actually been involved with CG Future’s Director, Kristin McCourtie since 2009, and she’s been very influential in my life. I helped with an event called agIdeas which is this big international design festival and my very first year working that, Gnomon’s Alex Alvarez was a speaker. I kept in contact with Alex and then each time he came to Australia I got involved with the events. In 2016 I came on board for Gnomon Live and brought a whole bunch of people from Sydney with me. The following year we had an event in Melbourne and Sydney and I worked on the event. So it’s been almost 10 years now.

Q: What was your Gnomon experience like?

A: I loved being at Gnomon. I was taking The Advanced Compositing class and it was good because it reminded me that I knew a lot more than I thought I did. It was nice to come in every week and get feedback on my actual demo reel. I think my teacher recommended me for the Hulu job because I kept coming in each week for an update. I spent all my free time at Gnomon because they have very nice computers! I also got to meet some really cool people even though I didn’t have classes with them, but everyone’s really nice. It was really cool to walk around and be amazed at every student’s work.

Q: What advice would you have for someone that’s just graduating school in Australia, what should be on their list of things?

A: My best advice would be just try and get any position as a foot in the door, and if that’s not working be open to leaving. You can get visas for Canada and the UK quite easily. They have a lot of studios, especially Canada seems to be trying to ramp up a lot. I know a lot of Australians go there just to get experience so that have a stronger calling card when they come back to Australia.

While you can get a job as a junior in Australia, the competition is really high because there are a lot of people trying to get the same positions. For me, I just practised as much as I could, learn everything I could about the industry and Nuke – probably pretty obsessively, but I wanted to be a little more ahead so I could be more employable.

Q: How can CGFutures help you get a job?

Well, CG Features is one of the reason I’m at Luma. In 2016, CGFutures Speaker, Alex Cancado (2D Supervisor at Luma at the time) came and basically was like, “Don’t put these things on your reel.” I had three shots on my reel, and two of them were two things he specifically had said should not be on there. It was a very awkward, but it was one of those humbling moments.  He gave me feedback on my reel and what I needed to learn at the event,  he continued to work with me and review my reel every six months or so. Each time I would send him an update, he would challenge me to do more. He then eventually recommended me to Luma, and when an LA position became available, I got it.

One of the best things that CG Futures does, is allow you to meet people who do the same things as you- but they are experts in their fields.  It’s really nice to have the goal of “One day I’ll do that like you can” and be around people that actually can answer specific technique questions, and not just be like, “Oh, you’re doing great, keep going.” It is best to come prepared to the event, have your reel and resume ready, and know what questions you want to ask. It’s not just what you learn, it’s who you meet. There’s lot of recruiters randomly in the crowd that you’ll talk to, some of them even do sessions. One of my friends got a position at Luma Melbourne by talking to a recruiter at last year’s event.

Q: Any other last parting advice for somebody that’s maybe just graduating high school or starting university?   

I think my best advice is, “Don’t ever just learn what you’re being taught.” Go all in, learn your own stuff, practice your own stuff, keep failing, keep practicing, that’s the only way you get good at all. There is so much information online, if you’re not learning it, it’s almost like you’re behind – you really have to take ownership there. CG Futures is a really great way to be like, “Hey, I wanna be a matte painter, these are the skills I should learn.” then you tailor your learning to that.

Check out Monika’s ArtStation