Costume Designer, Shrine (Sony/Screengems)
What do you love about your work?
I love being able to delve into different characters and imagine how they would present themselves and dress. I enjoy creating my own backstories that help inspire the type of wardrobe they wear. Collaborating with other artists such as the directory, DP, and production designers is another enjoyment of mine. It’s always interesting to see other creative perspectives behind the world we’re creating, and it’s such a joy to see it all come to life. I love that my work is always changing with new projects, people, and surroundings. I’ve never been one to like repetition or routine so I greatly appreciate the constant change my work entails.
What is your vision for yourself, female filmmakers, or the media industry in 2020?
In 2020 I would really like to gain more momentum in my career. Design jobs are hard to come by as companies typically hire outside of Massachusetts despite the fact that there are many talented, qualified designers that are local. I’d love to see all of the local female filmmakers get more of the creative department head positions.
What’s one way you would suggest people “Change the Lens”?
As a single mother I would love for people in hiring positions in the film industry to change their perspective and start to support working mothers. There have been times when I have questioned my ability to land certain jobs based on the fact that I have a child. It is a very unfortunate thought to have cross your mind but I fear that there is some bias that exists in an industry where hours are long and most people opt to not have children.
What advice would you give to a new female filmmaker?
The road is long and hard but completely worth the journey if this is what you’re really passionate about. When I look back on my career and how it began I can’t help but be amazed at my progress despite all of the hardships. You are stronger than you think and give yourself credit for. There will be times when you feel you’ve hit rock bottom and want to give up but you need to recognize those situations as part of your journey. There were several times where I just had to go and get a regular job. One of those occasions led me to work as a tailor at Nordstrom. I met the most amazing women during my time there. These women were all from different countries with different outlooks on life and they all had different sewing tips to teach me. Had I not worked there, I wouldn’t have gained the knowledge they gave me. This knowledge has helped me immensely in the film industry and I am forever grateful for all that they have taught me, including how to remain open minded.
Which women in the New England region inspire you?
Andrea Ajemian, Deb Newhall, Debbie Holbrook, and Virginia Johnson. These women all work in the film industry and they are all killing it in their careers!
What film or series are looking forward to watching this year? Why?
Defending Jacob, I can’t wait to see the results of all our hard work. It was a long job and everyone got so close during the process. It was also a period of my life where I was in the middle of a life changing transition and I appreciate the close friends that I had supporting me in my time of need. It was the most fun I had working on set despite the job itself being very hard on everyone.
Attending any film festivals or events, and why you are attending them.
Sadly none of us will be able to attend any events for a while but I look forward to the day where we can start to get things back to normal. I believe we will all come out of this with a greater appreciation for the lifestyle we are able to have in America and a kinder attitude towards the people who make up our great country.
How can your fans find you!?
Audio Recording/Location Sound
The people I get to meet who are from all over the world.
Not taking no as an answer and not letting someone else’s negativity get in the way.
Seeing women directed movies and pushing for an inclusion rider sounds like a great start.
Take people’s advice with a grain of salt because they may not know where you’re headed.
Alecia Orsini Lebeda and Alicia Rodriguez
Covid-19: Pushing Creatives to Think from Inside the Box
With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, many professionals have been left with many questions about what comes next. Businesses have been forced to close, resulting in the loss of jobs for millions including the entertainment industry. So, at times of total social isolation many wondered what is there to do? Fortunately, one of the biggest perks of being part of the entertainment business is the ability to think outside the box, or in this case of quarantine, from inside of it.
Creatives have utilized the power of the internet. Stepping into online platforms, many initiated collaborations on screenwriting projects through shareable documents, table reads via conference call, holding parties via Instagram live and hosting online interview segments. Benjamin Zidel, a New England based producer and admin of “Channel 14”, a PA and filmmaking job posting group on Facebook, became one of those creatives with a plan. Zidel quickly jumped into action on Facebook urging the “Film Fam” (film family) community to post their projects.
Sure enough, within minutes the community overwhelmingly responded by sharing projects they’ve written, directed and starred in. The trick Zidel was hiding under his sleeve? To create an online film festival! “The New England Quarantine Festival” described as “The first and hopefully only Quarantine Online Film Festival, a welcoming space where all can gather to experience the local storytelling talent this region has to offer.” Benjamin Zidel curated the festival which received over 160 entries in total. It’s split up on two playlists, one on YouTube and one on Vimeo. As he explains “Not everyone’s art is in the same place, so I was hoping to do my best to consolidate them for the easiest viewing experience.” And of course, its needless to say that this festival is open to the general public, so anyone can access it to support and appreciate their fellow filmmakers while holding their spirits high in this time of seclusion.
On how he came up with the idea, Zidel responded “The idea was that a lot of entertainment workers are now sitting at home not creating, how could we be useful with this time? So, the premise was to collect as much local New England talent as possible, assemble their work in one place so with this newly found time on our hands, we can get familiar with the creators around us.” He also hopes that this festival leads people to “connect once quarantine ends [so] we can see some new beautiful work come of the collaborations.” And when it comes to the actions taken in the community Zidel hopes “the community sticks together, help when we can be by donating goods or volunteering to pertinent causes or simply sharing funny videos to distract us. [ And to] search inside ourselves about why storytelling is important to us. Let this time be made useful by expressing gratitude for things that may have [been] taken for granted. And maybe find an amazing story to tell from all of this.”
Quick, creative and decisive action such as Benjamin Zidel’s ingenious online film festival only shows that despite hardships, and moments in which time takes a halt, there is no need to forget our roots as creators; utilizing our gift of creativity to find productive pathways in the most unlikely places.
Joan Cassin – WIFVNE Member
Former President of WIFVNE & Founder of Boston Production Moms!
So many things! Because I’m both a director and a producer I get to tik off a couple of boxes at once. I love that I get to be creative in a way that lets my imagination loose and also creative in a problem solving capacity that feels like flexing a muscle. I also love that filmmaking is a team sport so you get to add your brain to a bunch of other amazing thinkers and become greater than the sum of our parts.
My vision for myself this year is one of action, moving forward, and taking all the next right steps to get me where I want to go. Essentially I want to just be doing more more more of what makes me happiest and sets me on fire and the only way to do that is action. I want the media industry to reflect the real world around us and to me that means I want to see more women on my sets, more people of color on my sets, and I want to see more of all of our stories in front of the camera as well.
The easiest things for us to do is support other filmmakers. Follow them on social media, promote their work and accomplishments, GO SEE their work when you can, and also show up for yourself. It can be hard to promote ourselves sometimes but put your own work out there to be seen as well. You’re worthy. Mentorship and support is huge too. We can always reach back and pull others up with us and reach forward for the hands that went before.
Keep going and don’t be afraid to suck. Think of how many shitty male made things there are out there that are forgivable because of the shear volume of male created work. I heard once that we’ll know we have equity when a female made film that sucks is just not a big deal because there are so many other female made films that are great. Rashida Jones said something in passing in an interview about directing once that I’m sure was small to her but made a big impact on me. “I think that women just need to keep failing – just keep failing, you know? – and then eventually, it’s not a failure,”. Just keep failing until you don’t.
Ugh. Which women in the NE region DON’T inspire me is a better question. Anybody out there doing what they love inspires the hell out of me. Margie Sullivan, Kristen Kearns, Amanda McGrady, Nikki Bramley, Mary Agnes, literally every single member of the Boston Production Moms group. It feels weird to call anyone out right now because there are so many..
I can’t wait until the final season of DARK comes out. One of the best, most unique sci fi shows I’ve ever seen. Everything about it is fantastic. I’m also about 15 minutes into the show The Deuce and I’m already hooked. Jury is out on it but it’s been a while since something sold me in the first few minutes like that. A lot to unpack in that show.
Thato Rantao Mwosa – WIFVNE Member & Board
I love the fact that you can see and hear things in my head, put those voices on paper by writing a script and the film it to capture the vision. Seeing my vision on screen is like magic. That feeling never gets old.
My vision is to complete my film and share it with the world.
As women filmmakers, the films we make will not get the funding if people are not watching them. We need to support one another. Support comes in many ways. Donating to a crowd sourcing campaign, buying tickets to fill the theater, spreading the word about a female directed film and sharing your networks
I would say, make your film by any means necessary. Do not get discouraged. Find ways to make it happen with or without money. The good thing is that, technology has advanced and it has become cheaper and easier to make a film.
Lisa Simmons inspires me because she is truly the mother of black film in New England. She has nurtured and supported a lot marginalized filmmakers who often struggle to make their films.
I’m looking forward to Queen Sono, the first African series produced by Netflix.
Jennifer Potts – WIFVNE Member
Filmmaker & Professor
Independent Filmmaker (Self) and Regis College
I love the balance of teaching part time and having time to work on my own films/screenplays.
This year, I am focusing on writing. I am cleaning up two feature screenplays and submitting them to festivals and competitions, while also writing my first TV pilot. I am also trying to get funding for my first animated project. My overall 2020 goal is to sign with a screenwriting manager.
What’s one way you would suggest people “Change the Lens”?
I would suggest hiring and working with female-led films. If hiring a crew, hire women. I hire a minimum of 50% women on my crews. I also seek to hire women in lead roles like producer, cinematographer, editor, etc. I think it is also important to have men on majority female crews so that we change their “norm” as well.
Work hard, be authentic, and embrace rejection – it means you are working and putting yourself out there.
My daughters are my greatest inspiration. They are strong, politically and socially aware, and true to themselves.
I cannot pinpoint one film or series. There is so much great work out there right now and I try to take in as much as I can. I am thrilled about the role of women in television and try to watch as many female-written shows as possible.
Sharon Contillo – WIFVNE Member & Board
Director, writer, Producer
President, Middle Center Productions, LLC
The female camaraderie
More funded opportunities for female directors and more women in technical roles
More advertising of women directed or female-led films
Act like you deserve it because that’s what men do.
The brave women that started the WIFVNE chapter!
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, documentary. She’s a terrific artist and going through a difficult time with Parkinson’s. I like to be inspired by brave women.
Anne T Vinsel – WIFVNE Member
Freelance Editor, Producer, and Motion Graphics Artist
Being able to work in a creative field.
I would like to continue working on a documentary and other personal projects along with paying work.
See movies and programs that are out of your usual genre.
Don’t underestimate yourself and charge what you are worth. You are worth it.
Laurel Greenberg, Julie Kahn
Next season of Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Beautiful set design and editing.
Editorial and Advertising Photographer
I love being able to photograph such a wide variety of people. Every day is different. I photograph scientists, athletes, entrepreneurs, teachers, entertainers, politicians and everyone in between. I love being part of sharing these spectacular people’s stories.
I hope that the ratios continue to change to be more inclusive of all people, so that people of all genders have the opportunity to be behind the camera, telling the important stories of our time.
My advice to female filmmakers and photographers is to lean into the qualities that make you “you”—even if those are stereotypically female qualities. At times it can feel like being a woman in our industry is an obstacle—but so many of the qualities that are stereotypically “female” can really be a benefit on a film or photography set.
Too many to count! Kim Nguyen is an extremely talented director in L.A. who has been a big source of support for me over the years.
I love watching stand-up comedians. Often when I’m editing photos for a client, that’s what I listen to while I work. I love hearing their stories.
Past Blog Posts
Women In Film & Video, New EnglandP.O. Box 118East Boston, MA firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2020 Women in Film & Video New England. All Rights Reserved.
Manage your Membership Easier