Victoria Hersey is a 2013 graduate of Colby Sawyer College with a degree in communication and media studies and has since used her education to build up an array of experiences in the film industry. Beginning as a production assistant, Hersey has worked on many diverse production environments and labels herself as a tech-savvy and creative individual. She is most passionate about the “art of storytelling” and has used her interests and talents to land her impressive opportunities with companies like Warner Brothers, HBO, and Hulu. She provides in depth insight into the film industry as a woman as well as the ins and outs of a production set during the COVID 19 pandemic.
How did you get started in the film industry?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at first. I studied communications in college. I started expressing interest in my video classes and getting involved in theater. I started learning as much about production as I could. I kept my creative gears turning with theater and learned lots of technical skills through my classes. I found opportunities to learn more. I got a school job where I was in charge of renting out the school’s video equipment. I could then use anything I wanted. I started networking with alumni and volunteering at video events. Before I knew it I was ready to start working production assistant jobs. I looked out for opportunities and got really lucky with networking.
A college professor told me about an independent feature film filming in my area and that they were looking for production assistants. At the time I had been working on commercials and took this opportunity to see what the industry was about. I started on independent films and short films. One project led to the next.
After college I started going to WIFVNE events in Boston. I met an actress who very loudly promoted the short film I was working on. She became my unexpected wing woman and got the attention of another producer who had a short film premiering soon. I was invited to see this short film and really liked the way she ran her production. This was Jennifer Potts. I really liked the way she believed in young people, their talent, the way she told a story, worked with her team and the way her passion was infectious. The same night this short film Charlie and Poppy premiered she asked me to join her next project. Next thing I know I’m sharing drinks with her crew and joining her team. After helping the seed and sparks campaign for her short I became the production manager on, and was involved on set for the filming. From here I connected with the line-producer Erica Hunter as I helped with SAG paperwork and day to day organizer of the production. After this short film Erica called me and asked if I’d like to work on a Lifetime movie in CT. This was my first experience with Synthetic Cinema International. I joined as an office production assistant and got so much more experience than I expected.
The first thing I was asked to do was take Mario Lopez’s lunch order and I didn’t think they were serious.
As an office PA for Synthetic I go to do everything hands on. I wrangled background and directed them through food trucks surrounding a Christmas tree. I was learning a lot more than the tasks of an office PA. I was helping make the production report, the sides, I was helping set up food for the crew, I got to sit next to the writer/AD, I was locking up during shooting. I was learning so much in such a short period of time. It was incredible. I got started in the film industry because I love the creativity of storytelling and making that process happen. Networking with Women in Film was the catalyst that began to pave my way in the industry.
What do you love about the work that you do?
I love that not one day is the same. I love working with passionate, talented and wonderful people. I like the challenge of working in organized chaos. I like the opportunity to be part of a project that feels huge and will be enjoyed by many. I love reading a script and then seeing it literally come to life before my eyes as sets are built and actors walk to their marks. Lighting. Production Design, Props. I really enjoy being part of a film family that I’ve built over the years.
What can you share about what you are working on now?
I’m currently working on a feature film called Chili or Spirited for Apple TV as a Covid Location Manager. It’s public knowledge that it is a musical involving Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, and Octavia Spencer. I wish I could tell you more but I can’t at this time.
What has your experience as a woman in the industry been like?
I’ve been lucky enough to have many positive experiences as a woman working in the industry. I’ve made connections with many. I have found unexpected allies. Have I been harassed in the work place…yes. Have I been underestimated …yes. Have I been made to feel uncomfortable …yes. I have had more positive experiences than negative. I have found my voice in the industry so that I when I come across something difficult and possibly harmful I feel I’m getting better at knowing what to do. I’ve grown a backbone.
How has COVID changed your work?
At first COVID meant I was out of work. Then it created new jobs entirely. My job now as a covid locations manager didn’t exist before the pandemic. We’ve become more familiar with cleaning services, air scrubbers and testing vender than before. Now I’m worrying about how to keep people safe based on a building's ventilation and how many air changes it has per hour. We’re investing in more table top barriers, and personal protective equipment than before. Before we knew COVID wasn’t transmittable through surfaces we were wiping down equipment and making sure door knobs were clean. We are quite the adaptable industry. Filming during the pandemic became the new norm. Like any production you learn to adapt to the needs. Focusing on health instead of creativity was new but I’m happy to have had work through it all and still be apart of it all.
Why are you a member of WIFVNE?
I’m a member of WIFVNE because I value being part of a community that lifts each other up and encourages learning. I’m all about it. I enjoy being part of a group that can show other women we have a place in this industry and that we can lead an artistic vision. I’ve benefited from the networks I’ve gained with WIFVNE and I plan to keep supporting others as I continue on.
Were you told or did you learn a piece of wisdom or advice you now tell others in the beginning of their career?
Network! It’s all about who you know and your attitude. Learn names. People will notice if you call them by their name….and they may learn yours in return. Make it known what you are after. Sometimes all it takes is you voicing interest to reach the right set of ears. It’s uncanny sometimes how things happen when people know what your goals are.
What are some things you wish could change/would help if more women were in the industry?
I want to empower other women and show them that we don’t have to be in stereotyped female roles. We can make things happen and get our voices heard. I want to see more women working in leadership positions and their voices being respected.
Where can people learn more about you?
I have a website victoriahersey.com that showcases some of the projects I’ve worked on. I have an Instagram for my photography @vh.adventures. People are welcome to reach out to me through messenger on FB as well or if you prefer to email me contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.