What is your name and what is your position at TTF?
My name is Liz Montes, and I’m Head of Production at TTF.
How long have you been with TTF?
Almost 10 years
What does your role look like day to day?
As head of production, I have to see opportunities where others see challenges. With 25-30 active shows simultaneously in Production, I have to take a macro view of all the projects on our plate. My focus is on monitoring status and strategizing for the big picture by empowering others, managing resources and building effective workflows.
What led you to work in the visualization and entertainment industry?
Serendipity led me here. I grew up loving the cinema, always curious, asking my dad specific questions about the “movie magic” but I never dreamed I’d be here today. I have degrees in Business Management, International Relations and French. After graduating UCLA, I was given the random chance to prove myself as a production assistant at Digital Domain. I was a solid communicator who knew how to “read the room.” When busy people blurted out five things they needed done ASAP, I asked quick questions to assess priorities. I also knew that when clients or talent arrived unexpectedly, question-time was over and I was re-prioritizing whatever was now in front of me. So, serendipity! This industry has given me the opportunities of a lifetime. I spent time in New York and the Hamptons coordinating our Virtual Camera shoots with our TTF team and Steven Spielberg on the BFG. I managed our TTF London office from 2016-2017, and I’ve produced and supervised VFX client-side on-set in Europe and in Los Angeles with Tim Miller. I never dreamt I’d be here today. I am humbled and grateful for the support and kindness given to me along the way and my goal continues to pay the opportunity forward. I love taking a chance on people. We all need a chance, and whether they succeed or fail from there is only up to them.
What is your favorite part about your role?
My favorite part of my role is that it is inherently focused on people. I have to craft a strategy that is fueled by connection. I mentor, I collaborate, and I remove blockers for my team so they have everything they need to be successful. I focus on the connections, to better align people with what we are trying to achieve as a business so their strengths shine – and this is how we deliver. It is not about me, or what I am contributing, but more about what things I could not achieve on my own without all of them.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into this industry?
Set yourself apart from others. I’m looking at dozens of applications each month and I want to see your resume and say “Wow, I can’t wait to interview them.” Once you land your first job, make friends, be humble and learn everything you can. If you’re joining Production, then organization and flexibility are important since you have to deal with lots of information and communicate it all well. Stay positive, and don’t take things too seriously. Do all this, while bringing solutions to the table and you will be unstoppable.
Biggest milestone at TTF / How have you grown here?
The new landscape of working from home during a global pandemic was a challenge for everyone, including us as a Visualization company. Keeping up with the surge in business was yet another challenge for Production and an opportunity for me as a leader in the face of a global pandemic where the industry faced a talent shortage.
I succeeded in implementing various business models and strategies to ensure the success of our production team and projects. I had to think outside the box, improve workflows and optimize, always keeping in mind the positive and fun culture of TTF.
Supporting people when they stumble, monitoring the distribution of work and being ready to celebrate our wins together at any time make our Production model one where people join meetings with a smile because they are excited.
What is your favorite art form?
Music! But music in storytelling especially. It makes us cry, laugh, feel alone, or even awkward. It triggers different emotions. Example: Jack and Rose, on the Titanic, insert song – Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. Cut to: Me in highschool, and all the girls crying hysterically during gym class when the melody would hit (self-included).
If you hadn’t become a producer, what would you have been?
If I hadn’t become a producer, I’d have worked for the United Nations. Yep, I was once fluent and dreamt in French when I studied in Paris during college. I can still chat your ear off in French, just much, much slower, as I try to remember the words…
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Travel, without a doubt! It fuels my inspiration and creativity. New sounds, sights and smells spark the brain to think more more clearly, positively, and more openly.
What piece of media was the biggest influence on you as a kid?
Music-Television for sure. I grew up in the 80s watching MTV. Music videos brought an entirely new appetite for my love of visual storytelling through art and fashion. I’ll never forget the controversy Madonna faced when she burned crosses in her music video for “Like a Prayer” or the horror on my mom’s face after I purposely tore the knees in the brand new Guess jeans she just bought me. Now they are “cool,” mom.
If not LA, where?
Selling coconuts somewhere on a black sand beach with no cell service.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?
Jennifer Esposito, because people say I look like her?
People would be surprised if they knew…
I used to dress runway models. Yep.