Interview With Jenny Fulle

Jenny Fulle, executive vice president of production at Sony Pictures Imageworks, has been out for all 27 years of her Hollywood career. That career spans an impressive list of films for which she has managed visual effects, including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, two Matrix movies, Spider-Man and both Charlie’s Angels films, among others.

But before her career in Hollywood, Fulle was already a hero in the
world of sports. When she was just 9 years old, she began a three-year battle
with Little League Baseball to allow her to play ball — they didn’t allow girls
on teams at the time — by writing a letter to President Nixon. After involving
the National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union in a
lawsuit against Little League, Fulle won, and in 1974 Little League Baseball
was required to admit girls. During Fulle’s first season, she led her league in
home runs.

At the age of 18, Fulle landed her first Hollywood
gig — as a janitor at George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic. That job opened
the door for Fulle, who quickly moved up in the world of visual effects and
production. sat down with Fulle in her office at the Sony
Pictures Imageworks headquarters to find out what goes on behind the scenes in
the world of visual and special effects, and what it takes to break into the
industry today.

AfterEllen: How did
you end up being a janitor for George Lucas?
Jenny Fulle:
My stepdad was a landscape architect, and was doing all the landscaping
for [Skywalker] Ranch. In the meantime, he was in charge of general services,
which included the mailroom and janitorial. At the time, I didn’t know what I
wanted to do so I went in on a temporary basis. A few months later, he moved on
and the person that took over thought I was such a good janitor they kept me

For me, it wasn’t like my whole life I thought I wanted to
work in movies. I hadn’t. But when I heard the name George Lucas, I thought,
that sounds pretty cool, I’ll do that, and I just went from there.

AE: Did you ever get
your college degree?
No. I probably have about six college credits. Art and whatnot.

AE: What do you think
about women now coming into the industry? Do you think you could still do that,
or do you think women have to go to film school and have a very specific major?

It depends. Certainly for the artists — the people who work on the
computers — for the most part, you need to have some sort of a degree. You have
to have some kind of formal education so that you can learn the basics of what
exactly it is that they do.

Production is a little different. It’s really about knowing
someone, or getting in to meet the right person and making an impression so
that somebody gives you a chance. I think it’s really about being in the
trenches and learning what works, and more importantly what doesn’t work. It’s
a certain type of personality as well, and I don’t think that can be taught.

My visual effects producers at Imageworks are all type A
personalities. We sit in the producers meeting and it’s the most stressful hour
of my life, because everybody is so intelligent, driven, organized and
incredibly vocal. They all have an opinion, and they want everybody else to
hear it!

AE: When you were working as a janitor, did you ever think you would be where you are now?
In a million years I would never have imagined I would have ended up here. When I was a janitor, I remember thinking: "One day I might be a production coordinator. Man, what would I do with all that money?" I could have never imagined this ride that I have been on.