Actress Jamie Lee Curtis shared some valuable industry advice with young visual effects artists at Friday’s open house held at the Exceptional Minds vocational school for young adults with autism in Sherman Oaks.
“Just pretend you’re going for a job with, oh I know, Jim Cameron at his visual effects studio,” said Curtis referring to the movie industry icon, while reminding students – all on the autism spectrum — to aim high.
Curtis, known for her best-selling children’s books and her roles in “Freaky Friday,” “True Lies,” and “A Fish Called Wanda,” also presented the “Ed Asner Award” to Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios’ Executive VP of Visual Effects and Post Production, who worked closely with Exceptional Minds visual effects artists on “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
“This wonderful school that is going to give that group of kids an opportunity to live their dreams with dignity and purpose … only works if there are companies that are going to support these graduates,” said Curtis.
During their studies, students worked on visual effects, green screen keying, simple compositing, object removal, tracking mark removal, and end credit work for a dozen movies including, “American Hustle,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
“I will tell you what they have that other people don’t have: [their] obsessiveness over detail,” said Alonso.
Marvel Studios is the second recipient of the “Ed Asner Award,” which is presented to the school’s most “exceptional” supporters in honor of Ed Asner, who is an autism advocate and the school’s most notable founding advisor. Stargate Studios was presented with the award in 2014.
The seven graduating students spoke of their experiences and their opportunities going forward and their appreciation for the industry and their school.
“Thank you to Exceptional Minds for giving me the skills necessary to do this, to start off my career,” said 2015 graduate Nicky Benoist, who will be starting his new job as visual effects artist with Mr. Wolf studios in Culver City the day after graduation.
More than 3.5 million Americans are living with an autism spectrum disorder, with one in 68 children now being diagnosed (up from one in 88 just two years ago); more than 500,000 U.S. children impacted by the disorder will enter adulthood during this decade. Autism services cost U.S. citizens over $200 billion each year.