We had the good fortune of connecting with Lorin Z Pillai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lorin Z, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk has been a big reason I moved forward in my career. I was a moderately successful muralist, I ran my own company for five years and took on some big jobs. But I felt unfulfilled with the fact that it was always job to job, with little level-up aspect. It was also very solitary. I took an environment design class at Gnomon School of Visual Effects, just as a means to hone my current skill set, that was when I was introduced to the world of VFX and visual storytelling. I took a risk, and decided to go to school there full time and change my path. It was an enlightening experience that pushed me in ways I didn’t foresee. It was without a doubt the hardest two years of my life, and I had turned away from an income as a traditional painter in order to spend a lot of money on school and living expenses. I definitely started to worry about the risk I was taking by learning CG.
But then I started to see the rewards of my hard work. I got my first job working on a VFX feature, then I found work in gaming, where I shipped three games titles as an environment artist. After that I switched to the animation industry where I worked for several years at Nickelodeon, then on to Dreamworks for almost seven years. I contributed to hundreds of animated episodes as a Lead Look Development Artist. Now I’m back in live action VFX, working on some very exciting shows at FuseFX. And I always think back to that risk I took to go back to school, not knowing if it was the right choice, but I knew I needed to make a change. I knew I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than what I could create on my own. I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from some of the most brilliant storytellers and artists. They inspired me to take another risk…
To start telling stories of my own. I had been dabbling in writing for a long time, but I hadn’t really had the idea strike of what I wanted to write. What was the story that was important for me to tell? I love reading fantasy, it’s my go-to anytime I sit down to read. So of course that was the genre for me, but how to make it be something that mattered? A fantastical, magical world with real feelings and emotions, real experiences that people go through. The idea for the core of my story finally struck, and I wrote my first novel. Then I wrote a prequel novella. And I re-wrote them, so many times. I had a lot of help, too. A lot of advice and read-throughs from people I trust. I focused on the craft of writing and storytelling, learning and absorbing all I could. I tightened them up to the point where they were stories I was proud of, proud enough to take yet another risk, that have them out in the world, read by other people besides those closest to me. It’s kind of a scary thing, yet exciting at the same time. And if I hadn’t been willing to take any of these risks, none of it would have happened. Risk has been my companion all along the way. I’ve been very fortunate that my risks combined with hard work have equaled reward. Since then I’ve released another book, co-written with Laura L. Hohman. And now, I have the next in the Vale Born series releasing soon. It’s all pretty incredible to me that I’m at this point; looking at real books that I wrote in print and in eBook, with more coming. It takes risk, as well as a heck of a lot of help and support, to see this kind of endeavor through to fruition.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been living sort of a double life the past few years, my success as a Look Development Artist in Animation and VFX has meant I’ve had the chance to work on some very exciting shows. There’s nothing quite like seeing my work on the big screen, and the combined efforts of so many talented people. It makes all the challenges we face on a daily basis worth it. Somehow, at the end of the day, we make movie magic. It takes so much effort from so many people in order to make these shows. Anytime I watch shows I think about how much it took to bring that one frame, that one cinematic moment, that one gut-wrenching line that was delivered perfectly along with the music and the visuals … so many people worked to make that moment happen.
My path as an author has been met with it’s own challenges, having the support of my readers has bolstered my faith in myself as a storyteller and kept me motivated to keep bringing new books to the world. Receiving reviews for my Vale Born series about what it has meant to them is everything to me. Writing under the name Lorin Petrazilka and carving my own path there has not been easy at all. But I would say all the hard work is worth it. One big lesson I’ve learned is that there is always more to learn, open yourself to acknowledging this, and you will be able to learn so much more. There are always more stories to tell, and everyone has a unique one.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Definitely the hike up to Griffith Observatory. It kind of ticks all the boxes for me: a great hike, really iconic architecture and a special place, plus you can see the Hollywood sign. Beaches: I like to venture a bit further, to Ventura! I love the beaches there, and depending on the way you drive there you can end up driving through farm country. It’s great to pick up some fresh fruit and veggies on your way back at some of the local stands.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Women in Animation had been a huge help to me early in my CG career, as well as Writer’s Digest for my journey as an author.
Vale Born and Plight of the Syrenni are copyrights of Lorin Petrazilka. Shrek is a trademark of Dreamworks Animation LLC