Female Filmmaker Friday with Lead Materials TD Nikki Tomaino
Hi Nikki, thank you for joining us today and for being our very first #FemaleFilmmaker interview in this series. Can you tell us what you do here at Blue Sky?
It’s a pleasure to be here! I’m currently the Lead Materials TD overseeing characters on Spies in Disguise.
What makes you excited to come to work every day?
What makes me excited to come to work everyday is the people I work with. They push me every day to be a better artist and many have become life long friends. Blue Skyers are truly an amazing group of people.
When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
I knew I wanted to be an artist very early on. I don’t think filmmaking began to take shape in my mind as a real possibility until I made my first short film at Ringling. In materials we are trained to tell a story through our work. For example, this object was very old, in the rain, this piece of wood was water logged, this jacket has been worn and has tattered cuffs because the wearer tugs and fidgets at them while she’s talking, etc. Ultimately, we support and enhance the story being told.
Who were some of your role models coming up in the industry? What made them special?
I think like most women in the industry, my role models were the trailblazers who made it possible for me to dream up what I wanted to be. And through their example, knew that I could achieve it through hard work and passion.
There were so many women who were told “no” in this industry. Dorothy Arzner, Retta Scott, Alice Guy...these women didn’t accept no, and through their gumption and talent, staked claim to the film industry opportunities that, up until that point, had only been given to men. Modern examples of my role models are easily found throughout my career and in this studio. Watching Jessica Sances-Torres and Amber Martorelli graduate from the same school as me (Ringling College of Art + Design) and completely dominate their fields certainly inspired me and made me feel like I could follow the same path to leadership. It bears repeating that I come to work and have so many women around me who inspire me as well such as Sabine Heller, Karen Monshein, Diana Diriwaechter...I’m a better artist by osmosis.
What advice do you have to young women in the industry?
You may have to work twice as hard to get recognized but the effort you give will serve you far better as an artist than just accepting “no."
Thank you Nikki for your time - we can’t wait to see your incredible work in this year’s Blue Sky feature film Spies in Disguise!