We had the good fortune of connecting with Kayte Sabicer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kayte, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I look at risk as an important part of moving forward. Risk is always scary, and my immediate reaction is usually a sick feeling in my stomach and lots of worried nights- but in the end those are the times that I get pushed out of my comfort zone and end up proving my abilities and getting farther than I thought was possible. Looking back at all the most pivotal times in my career it all involved risk. Taking an unpaid internship with the hope it would lead to a career. Moving to LA and taking on the expense of an apartment I couldn’t afford and just believing I’d get enough work to make ends meet. Turning down one job because I was counting on the better job to come through. Accepting a job that was completely out of my skillset and trusting I could figure it out as I went along. Taking on freelance work with bids and budgets outside of the studio system and learning how to be independent. Getting the confidence to make career decisions based on morals and ethics and not compromising my own mental health for the sake of a few bucks. All of these things involved taking risks- not knowing how they would turn out. And all of the decisions were scary as hell to make. But I’m so glad I made them (including the mistakes) and ended up where I am now. There’s so much more confidence that comes from these experiences and I think my work has only gotten better the more I believed I was capable of things beyond my current circumstances.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is extremely detail oriented. A lot of times I’m working on very small scale pieces, and they have to match a full scale item exactly. There is usually a lot of reference and if it’s for a movie there is a possibility there will be a cut from the full sized practical set to my miniature set and they need to be indistinguishable. It’s very hard to do. But luckily I have the right mix of specializing in replicating details and loving tedious tasks. I get lost in my work and can spend hours hunched over the tiniest object gluing or painting. I have a background in fine art and construction- I went to film school and put all those fields together. It was hard to get enough work for a while because visual effects miniatures is a shrinking field to be sure, but eventually you build up relationships with people and pay your dues and then you earn your spot at the table. I think the most useful lesson I’ve learned along the way is the ability to adapt. Taking your skills and changing to fit the need. I worked on VFX miniatures to start, then realized there was more work in stop motion and started making miniatures for those films. I learned how to make puppets and got into that as well. And eventually started sharing these skills with people online which was another untapped field for me. Not being stuck in just one job description has helped me keep working and doing the things I loved without suffering as jobs became scarce in different fields. I’ve put a lot of time in to get where I am now, and I’ve made lots of mistakes. I like to make sure people who follow me know its not about me being an “expert” in anything, it’s about me having worked long enough to find out what works for me, and if they want some tips- I’d love to help them too!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite places to take people are really just my go-to haunts. The first time I told my sister I was taking her to a cemetery for a movie she was not very keen, but now she says watching Wizard of Oz at Hollywood Forever is one of her favorite memories of visiting me. Of course for real movie buffs seeing something at The Arclight Cineramadome is a real treat. Then there’s things like the Museum of Jurassic Technology- a true gem for any lover of the not so ordinary experience. It can be fun to catch a free concert when they need audiences for talk show performances. If you can see a show at The Greek or Hollywood Bowl then definitely do it. Oddities abound at stores like Necromance or Bearded Lady. Ozzie Dots and It’s a Wrap are my go-to for costumes. Wacko is great for books and knick knacks (first stop for all my Christmas shopping). Skylight books is heavenly for browsing. I love breakfast at The Waffle or Swingers, I can’t get enough of Doomie’s Home Cookin fried chicken, or really any single item from Bulan Thai Kitchen. Fred 62’s is a must for late night munchies. For drinks I like to go to the Dresden and catch Marty and Elayne, Sassafras Saloon for a good theme, Cha-Cha Lounge for people watching, and definitely The Prince for a retro vibe. Most people want to see the ocean so we could see the scene at Venice, or Malibu for a view. And if they have time for some real beauty I always insist on a trip to The Huntington Library and Gardens (with tea in the rose garden if they’re fancy). Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think the people who helped me get where I am today are all the ones who stopped to take the time to mentor me along the way. Each time someone stepped outside of the natural competitive environment and said “let me show you this” or anytime someone saw me struggling and offered to help. It’s so easy to use our collective environment to put others down as a way of bonding. But I think the best way to bond is to show compassion. Not saying “Did you see what dumb mistake Kayte made today?” but instead saying “Oh man, poor Kayte. I’ve been there. One time I….” Those are the people who really nurtured me and helped me. Because of the crew chief who stepped in during my moment of embarrassment and told me his most embarrassing story, I was able to finish my work and fix my mistake. I was able to keep going, and had no fear of returning to work the next day. And we all make mistakes. He inspired me to look for the people who are struggling and offer them a friendly face and a helping hand. It’s way too easy to feel defeated- we all need to be in this together and lift each other up.
Norman Chan, Julie Shuford