Wonder Woman broke ground in more ways than audiences know.
While supervisor roles in the VFX industry are still dominated by men, Jessica Norman was tapped to serve as VFX supervisor for MPC’s portion of the effects on Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment's Wonder Woman, which debuted to $103 million at the domestic box office over the weekend and was the first female-fronted superhero movie in more than a decade.
For the Patty Jenkins-directed tentpole, VFX houses included MPC, Double Negative, Pixomondo and UPP, with the VFX led by overall VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer.
Previously, Norman has worked as MPC London’s VFX supervisor on titles including Exodus: Gods and Kings, World War Z and Watchmen, as well as served as overall VFX supervisor on titles such as A Monster Calls. Wonder Woman gave her the chance to apply her skills to the story of the most famous woman superhero, set in 1918 during the women's suffrage movement. With Wonder Woman completed, The Hollywood Reporter talked with Norman, who will next be serving as compositing supervisor for Disney’s virtual production of The Lion King.
There are so few women who are VFX supervisors on Hollywood movies. Why?
I have been doing this for a long time, but it’s a changing industry. As a whole, there are more women working in visual effects. Personally, I always felt encouraged.
How did you get into the business?
I’ve been at MPC for 20 years — I started as a receptionist and worked my way up. I went to art school and then moved from Sweden to London. I wanted a creative and challenging job. I’ve worked on many films at MPC, including Spectre and Exodus: Gods and Kings.
What was it like working on Wonder Woman with a female director?
It was a great feeling. It was driven by Patty’s passion. It was clear she knew what she wanted to get out of each scene.
What was your favorite scene to work on?
The beach battle [in which a German army reaches the shore of Diana's home, the island of Themyscira, which was filmed on Italy's Amalfi Coast and augmented in VFX]. I enjoyed working on that; it was a lot of fun. (The studio asked Norman not to describe the details of this VFX work.)
How did it feel seeing the box-office results over the weekend?
It’s very exciting. You work on something and put so much into it, and that makes it more rewarding. I really hope [more films with strong women, led by women] is the future. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s not something extraordinary, just because it’s a female director. It’s the right director.
What does the movie mean to you?
It’s empowering. I hope in the future that will become more the norm. I hear people saying they are excited to see it with their kids. I’m super-excited.