VFX production manager Monika Chowdhary Kuczynski on the Leaders of Tomorrow Programme

VFX production manager Monika Chowdhary Kuczynski on the Leaders of Tomorrow Programme

Monika Chowdhary Kuczynski is a production-side VFX production manager, currently working on Anansi Boys, an Amazon's Series based on a fantasy novel. She is also one of the 19-strong cohort who have been selected for the recently launched Leaders of Tomorrow programme, a three-year programme is focused on providing comprehensive and tailored support to mid-level professionals working in High-end TV to give them the tools to progress to senior level, decision-making roles in the future.

Monika was recommended for the programme by two colleagues she previously worked with on Fate: The Winx Saga for Netflix - Sophie Jackson (Netflix VFX coordinator) and Pete Oldham (post-production supervisor) - and she says: “Just applying for it has been so important for my confidence.”

She says the programme's mentoring aspect is extremely important. “To be able to phone someone and know that it’s not going to be a massive ask for them” gives her the belief that she will benefit from the programme. “I want to grow my confidence, as this industry is constantly changing, so to be able to have these conversations to move things along, and have them mandated by this programme, is just great.”

Monika grew up in London and went to Royal Holloway London to study media arts, having known from childhood that she wanted to work in television and film “to tell stories”. She is now based in the capital.

It was when she was working as a technology coordinator for Lucasfilm that she was introduced to the VFX department and became interested in what they were doing. As a problem-solver, she says, she noticed that the VFX team “were involved from the very beginning to the very end” of a production, and that appealed.

Lucasfilm made her a VFX assistant coordinator on Solo: A Star Wars Story, and later she was VFX coordinator on the HBO sci-fi comedy TV series Avenue 5. She would like to move into a VFX producer role next and believes the being part of the Leaders of Tomorrow programme will help her broaden her skillset.

Monika is amused by the assumption that she is a very technically minded person, joking: “I’m just very good at using Google. You do have to have an understanding of what happens in VFX and how it moves through a pipeline, what languages people use. But it’s not so much technical as about workflow and understanding how everybody communicates.”

She is acting as both virtual production manager and VFX production manager on Anansi Boys, “so it’s a whole new ballgame. Virtual production is so new but so in vogue right now. There are very few people who specialise in it in this country and really understand it and I am in there at the beginning, so it's very exciting.”

“We are using an in-house team so I’m in touch with every company using this technology to stay up to speed. And because I’m helping build the pipelines for an internal pop-up team, I’m way more involved in conversations than if the production was using a vendor - and I'm also dissecting everything that could go wrong because it’s a relatively new thing to use on set.”

Monika found previous ScreenSkills training both useful and enjoyable, and is looking forward to meeting other members of the programme. “I’m keen to see what their take on the industry is, to learn from them, to share our knowledge,” she says.

She is also very interested in mental health and is keen to support those who are working towards a better working environment in the industry; she believes the skills she will develop through the programme will assist that ambition.

“Freelancers go from show to show and there isn’t a consistent standard across the industry on mental health and efficient time management in the workplace. We sort of make it up as we go along. I’d like to do what I can, as early as possible in the process, to set up efficient systems and support in place.

“I’m already in the mentoring mindset – so I will be mentoring everyone under me whether they know it or not!”

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