Victoria Alonso Talks VFX Production, Marvel and The Avengers
The journey that brought Victoria Alonso, the young political activist studying psychology and drama in Argentina, to the sound stages of The Avengers as Co-Producer and Executive Vice President of Visual Effects and Post-Production at Marvel Studios, was long, difficult and quite circuitous. There’s always luck involved in such a career trajectory, but mostly, you get there through the incredibly hard work needed to take advantage of any lucky breaks that come your way.
Like many execs in “the biz,” she started as a PA, moving from one job to the next. As she explained, “I picked up a lot of garbage and fetched a lot of lunches and a ton of coffee. That was before Starbucks even existed! And we didn’t even have cell phones when I started.” Soon she found herself working for Tony and Ridley Scott’s RSA commercial house, moving from there to Digital Domain as an assistant to an executive who had broken her leg and needed someone to fetch things – faxes, coffee, whatever. She stayed for 4 years. At DD, her timing couldn’t have been better. CG was relatively new and few wanted the hassle of producing it besides her. “Give it to the kid, she’ll do it” lead to getting every CG/3D project that came in. She devoted herself to learning all she could from the CG artists and technologists handling the work.
After a number of studios and films later, including stops at Rhythm & Hues, DreamWorks and Sony working on projects like Shrek, Big Fish and Hancock, she found herself on a collision course with Marvel. Her colleague, Hancock’s producer, told her about an opportunity to work on a new film called Iron Man. She was intrigued but knew nothing of the comics. 7 years later, as they say, the rest is history. Her latest film, The Avengers, is about to be released and is expected to be one of the biggest films of 2012, if not ever.
Recently, Victoria and I had a chance to talk about her career, the pressures of filmmaking and the challenges of producing massive vfx-driven films like Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor and The Avengers.
Dan Sarto: This has been a tremendously busy time for Marvel and a busy few years for you. Most recently, three big films, three different directors, three different productions. Can you tell us about your approach to producing visual effects?
Victoria Alonso: You know, we’re getting better and better at multitasking. Right now, this is our sixth movie. We have Iron Man, Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers. We’re finding our groove, although it hasn’t been very many years. It’s been pretty hectic in the volume of information and data that we move around. I didn’t work on Hulk, so I couldn’t take any credit for that, but all the other films I have. It’s like juggling octuplets. Everything is important, everything has to be done now, but sometimes you can let one kid cry a little longer because you've got to get to the one that is choking. So it’s a constant juggling of people and resources.