My Sister's Keeper
In her haunting book The Perfect Other: A Memoir of My Sister, Kyleigh Leddy ’19 recounts the fear, anguish, and heartbreak of losing a sister to mental illness.
AS TOLD TO
Gretchen Libby '90
On a career spent making movie magic.
I worked in the film industry for more than a quarter of a century, nearly all of it at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the visual-effects company founded by Star Wars writer and director George Lucas. I held several positions at the company, eventually becoming vice president of production and overseeing projects at four global studios. Along the way, I worked on dozens of award-winning films, including Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Iron Man, and Avatar.
Over the years I witnessed an advancement in technology that enabled storytelling on a larger scale. In the 2000s, the advancement of computer graphics enabled projects like Lord of the Rings, Transformers, and the Marvel films, which all returned huge profits. There were also films that utilized visual effects for storytelling purposes. One film I’m particularly proud of is The Revenant, in which the main character fights a computer-generated bear created by ILM.
In 2020, I decided I was ready for a new challenge and joined AWS, Amazon’s cloud computing service provider, where I am the director of visual computing. I help people who create film and television movie content do so in the cloud. The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer. Large entertainment companies often used to have data centers in their offices, referred to as “on premises,” where all imagery was rendered and stored. Sending those workloads to the cloud instead can save companies significant amounts of money.
My experience in the film industry is helpful in my current role because I understand our clients’ business. I have watched the entertainment industry evolve and know how important it is to have data managed and stored securely. Meanwhile, another of my teams at AWS is focused on the metaverse and the multitude of options to combine the physical and virtual worlds across all industries.
I feel incredibly blessed to have had my career experiences. I grew up in a small town in Maine and the education I received at BC gave me a wonderful foundation for where I am today. As a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, I’m regularly given the opportunity to mentor up-and-coming filmmakers. I was fortunate enough to work with several women in leadership positions at Lucasfilm and ILM despite the industry being traditionally male dominated. I try my best now to be a mentor to women in the film and tech industries, as well as others who might not have an easy way in. I’m also always looking for opportunities to grow my teams at AWS with people from varied backgrounds. I truly believe the more perspectives we hear, the better we can serve all kinds of customers.