Bringing Films to Light

You are here

Betsy Mueller’s passion for art and, more specifically, animation, was fueled at a very young age, so majoring in studio art, with an emphasis in graphic design, was a natural fit at the College. An all-around athlete, Mueller (C’98) also played golf, volleyball, and basketball.

After graduation, Mueller taught physical education in elementary schools for many years, substituting as an art teacher and taking night classes to help refocus her attention on animation. With determination and patience, she went on to become the lead lighting technical director at companies such as Digital Domain, Motion Picture Company, ReelFX, ImageMovers Digital, and The Orphanage.

The list of films for which Mueller has served as a lighting technical director is long and varied, including Ender’s Game, Pacific Rim, Superman: Man of Steel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, A Christmas Carol, Star Trek (2009), Happy Feet, and Life of Pi. The last two—Happy Feet and Life of Pi—won Oscars for best visual effects, thanks to Mueller and her teams. She was also the lighting lead for Thor, the lead lighting artist for Mars Needs Moms, and the lighter and compositor of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Currently, Mueller is a senior lighting technical director for Industrial Light & Magic, where she worked on Captain America 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and has new film projects in the works that will be released this fall.

Though Hollywood blockbusters may seem a far cry from Elsah, Illinois, Mueller gives thanks to her professors at Principia, especially Colette Collester, Coach Lee Suarez, Dr. John Near (C’69), Judith (McCreary, C’67) and Glenn (C’68) Felch, and Dan Kistler (C’79). She explains, “I’m able to do what I do because Principia helped show me that I can work on my studies with Christian Science, that the sky is the limit, and that I should never give up. What I learned from Principia is invaluable, and no one can take that away from me.”

This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Principia Purposewhere you can find other profiles of young alumni.