This Member Spotlight interview was conducted by Dina Klein. Dina is our intern at WIFVNE and is a senior studying Visual Media Art at Emerson College. She is originally from Chicago and has had a passion for Film and Television since a young age. She is also an aspiring writer and screenwriter.
Even though cinematographer Amanda McGrady came up as a digital shooter, she loves shooting on film when possible. She is inspired by practical FX and good old-fashioned movie magic. Over the years Amanda has shot a variety of projects including feature and short films that have screened at festivals around the world.
How did you get started?
I started shooting horror films in high school. After that I was hooked and went to film school at Emerson College where I learned everything I could about making movies. I loved all of the departments, but in the end, I felt most inspired by shooting. I worked at Rule Boston Camera to learn more about cameras and that sort of propelled me into this obsession with cinematography that has become a career.
Who is someone you really want to work with?
What do you love about the work that you do?
I love the creative process and collaboration of artists. I love telling a story and making the audience feel. Film is so powerful the way it can translate an experience from the characters to the viewer. A lot of that is a great story and great acting. The right lighting and camera movement can bring it to life.
What can you tell us about your newest project, The Luring?
The Luring is a psychological thriller set in Vermont. The feature film recently premiered at Panic Fest and got a great response from the audience. There is a lot more news coming soon so be sure to follow The Luring on Facebook and Instagram to find out where you can see the movie.
What has your experience as a woman in the industry been like?
This is a big question and I always find it hard to answer. I can only tell you about my experience and for me shooting films has always come naturally, shooting horror films is my favorite thing to do in the whole world. So there has never been a question of whether I belong or anything like that, because I’ve been determined to do it despite any barriers. I have been very fortunate to have been embraced by the people around me. I have to thank the men who are like brothers to me and taught me everything I know. Of course, there are times I don’t get a job because they want a guy, but there are also times I do get a job because they want a woman. In the end, I hope that people hire me because they like my work and like working with me regardless of my gender.
What has your experience working on The Luring?
My experience on The Luring was very positive. We spent a lot of time working in preiproduction and it was well worth it. Months before principal photography we shot a fundraising piece and that was a great opportunity for the director, Christopher Wells, and I to get to know each other. We shot in Vermont. The town was gorgeous and everyone was very supportive. It was also challenging because we had to bring in everything necessary, even wi-fi. We spent two weeks right before the shoot going to locations, shot listing, walking through the action, and working with the Assistant Director to get everything prepared. Once we started shooting things fell into place.
Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor?
I’ve had some wonderful mentors over the years, primarily the folks I met at Rule Boston Camera. I am a mentor as well. Usually someone starts as an assistant and I teach them everything I can.
Were you told or did you learn a piece of wisdom or advice you now tell others in the beginning of their career?
So many things! One thing I heard early on is that you have to make a living from this. You have to push yourself as a Director of Photography, you can’t do it on the weekends.
What are some things you think would help if more women were in the industry?
I think we can be more supportive of each other and hopefully we can see that on screen as well. I would like to see more stories with women supporting each other and building each other up, not fighting or competing.
Where would you like to go in your work?
I hope to make films that audiences love watching. Creating worlds really excites me that’s why I’m drawn to horror and fantasy, but I’m open to different genres.
Why are you a member of WIFVNE?
I think WIFVNE is awesome because we are in a small market here and that means we have a great opportunity to work together and make change. WIFVNE can help us network and support each other.
Photo creditsWith Amanda, we are kicking off featuring a Woman a Day on our site for Women’s History Month, but focusing on the present & our future!
1. Amanda McGrady, Cinematographer
2. Talking about the next shot with The Luring director Christopher Wells
3. Setting up a Night Exterior for The Luring:1st AD Michael Toscano, 1st AC Samuel Lusted, DP Amanda McGrady, PD Keenan McCarthy
4. Location scout for The Luring just a few weeks before shooting
5. Screen shot from The Luring featuring “Garrett” Rick Irwin and “Claire” Michaela Sprague
6. Steadicam Operator Lisa Sene frames up a shot
7. Screen shot from The Luring featuring “Jennifer” played by Molly Fahey