Wonder Women: Below the Line at the 2020 SCAD Savannah Film Festival
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One night in Miami

While laudable reasons for gender equality in the movie industry have been all the rage for a few years (remember the frenzied rush of festivals joining the 5050 × 2020 pledge and then making it public?), Too often the outcome seems simple to be, to put a woman in the director's chair and forget about the rest of the table. This is why I found the SCAD Savannah Film Festival's Wonder Women: Below the Line panel (which, like everything else, took place through Zoom at the fully digital festival these days) to be so important. How could aspiring craftswomen see they have important behind-the-scenes roles in the industry when they seldom see (or hear from) the women who have already been successful in those roles?

Variety host, Jazz Tangcay (unfortunately the only non-white face that appeared on my computer screen during the hour-long conversation) moderated the event to correct this and first introduced this year's four participants. Eclectic (and thought-provoking) professionals included editor Lucy Donaldson (Breaking News in Yuba County, Ma, The Choice), VFX producer Molly Pabian (Star Trek: Picard, Doctor Sleep, Joker, Ad Astra), and that Set Decorators Janessa Hitsman (One Night in Miami, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Lost in Space, Timeless) and Amy Beth Silver (On the Rocks, The Beguiled, Boys Don & # 39; t Cry).

"This is a job that is real," Pabian insisted from the start, after agreeing that too few film students, especially women, are aware that an area like VFX is even open to them. She suggested that anyone interested in pursuing their specialty should "get your Rolodex up and running" first and not only achieve wide reach, but also cultivate emerging relationships. (As well as "treating people kindly" – it's a small industry! You never know who will someday be in charge.) She added that as soon as a newbie has the opportunity, they should follow the rule, "Take." not up that stone ”- acronym for, if it is not under your auspices then trust the people whose job it is. You have to learn to delegate rather than micromanage.

When it came to diversity, the VFX producer (who had over 100 IMDb credits for her name, according to Tangcay) raved about the fact that while she was once the only woman in the room, she “now has five times as many! " Citing Jurassic Park as an early influence (as a kid, Pabian only assumed there were still dinosaurs), she added that she loved creating things that weren't real – and making people believe they were real . Even so, Pabian emphasized that "it's not just dinosaurs". Subtle visual effects are often the most powerful.

For her part, Silver spoke of staying curious and diligent. She also stressed that she only showed up on time. She urged aspiring set designers to ask questions and never pretend to know something if you don't. (And yes, be kind to everyone.) The designer complained that there is still a long way to go when it comes to diversity – there are sure to be more women, but they are mostly white! When she discovered that “Sofia” was trying to hire as few white men as possible, she admitted that it was still a challenge.

While decorating sets allows Silver to "have so many different lives," she wanted us to know that her job is much more than "putting a doily under a lamp on the table." (Which led to a round of knowing laughs.) Psychology, crew management, and more all flow into the entire design process. As for female directors in general, Silver brought up Elaine May, a "fantastic filmmaker who was written off to Ishtar." It reminded us of the eternal truism that male directors can produce huge bombs and still work without a hitch.

Donaldson then discussed "protecting" the director. Gender aside, this relationship was vital in the Post. "Diplomacy is important across the board," she added. Knowing when and how to talk was a skill in itself. The editor also firmly believed in the "rule of three" – i. H. He only suggested three times and then had the humility to let go.

The best advice Donaldson has ever received was to think of her career as a "long game" rather than a "lottery win". She then emphasized learning by working regardless of what level you are at. It was also necessary to network and maintain these relationships to the best of our ability. And, in addition to perseverance and rejection of discouragement, it helped to be sociable. (Forget the Hollywood stereotype of editors sitting alone in a dark room for hours!) Although Donaldson found a community by reaching out to other members of the Women in Media Facebook group, the lack of diversity in the industry as a whole always has still criticized. Sure, there was more awareness of the problem, but that didn't mean that much had changed.

Hitsman passed on her "amazing experience" at One Night in Miami to director "Regina" (King), who did so much legwork and research that their collaboration far exceeded her expectations. That and the fact that both the DP and most of the key positions on the set were held by women. For first-time designers, she urged the voiceover so you won't be overlooked. "Everyone's opinion is important," she said, pointing out that young and inexperienced people are often not heard enough.

However, when it came to her best advice, Hitsman quoted a decorator she had once worked under, "Make sure you have lunch and have gasoline in your car." In other words, once you make your own Having taken care of basic needs, you can concentrate better on the task at hand. Surprisingly, Hitsman also mentioned that she still receives résumés in the mail and that these "tangible objects" tend to get noticed (while emails are usually lost). Regarding this elusive diversity, the designer bluntly claimed that even in 2020 she is often the only woman in the room and that the industry remains extremely white. Even though the needles seem to have moved too few when it comes to gender and racial justice, she still loves her job because "every day is different". And she can shape the differences.

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