I just received an email looking for participants in a new program and some of the bits appear below my diatribe.
I guess the point that is starting to get irksome for me is: When in my 35 years in the business did I ever have the opportunity to participate in these types of career boosting programs? One that was exclusive to my sex that is? I probably wouldn't be approaching the age that I am with the amount of bitterness that I am developing if there had been something of the sort available.
I started my career fresh out of film school with the belief that I could do anything that I wanted with my life. That was true within the usual life parameters - family, economics, practicality. I had the desire to write and to direct from as far back as I can remember. I just didn't come from a family background that had any money connections at all. On my fathers side - poor ranchers - I was six before we got electricity. On my mothers side I am First Nations/Metis. Nothing there that would give one an advantage of any kind back in those days - you were generally better off not mentioning that you weren't totally white.
I jumped straight into life after film school, and that of course meant a family, a house, the usual trappings. Directing was not part of that scenario. Production at least could pay the bills - a DGC ticket got me in. I have spent my life molly coddling those unforgettable individuals in the "creative side" of the industry who appeared at times to be incapable of tying their own shoelaces. It was frustrating to say the least. When you reach PM in this side of the business it kind of paints a target on your forehead and says "okay anybody out there - go ahead and take a shot!"
That also meant being front and centre in negotiations of all sorts. In my case that included DGC negotiations when Union differences arose. By then I was Vice President of the Alberta Guild chapter and active both nationally and locally. Of course during that time the IATSE and the Teamsters decided to war over the transportation department. They didn't pick the bigger shows, they always picked mine. Why was I so lucky? Anyways, following closely on that onslot was the battle between the IA and DGC over the art department. I was it. The president was out of the jurisdiction on a show he couldn't leave. I did get things sorted out and proposed a truce rather than a true solution, one that still stands as a precedent I'm rather proud to say. It gave PDs and Art Directors a choice of what they wanted to do on any given show. It has not been without a few wrinkles but workable.
All that to say that everyone remembers the messenger not the message. Having been in the middle of numerous fracases bestowed upon me a reputation that I didn't earn or want. I had merely kept the chair warm as part of my duties. All of this while doing something that I didn't really want to be doing. Sure I was in the industry I wanted to be in, but never close to doing what I wanted to do in it. And no avenues open to allow me to do so. No mentorships available in my jurisdiction and I daresay nowhere across the country at that time - and even now very limited. Even getting to be PM I did myself - no one to work under - just observation from a distance and suddenly there I was in the chair, I had talked my self into a job. The fact that I pulled off some projects that had been labelled as impossible has been a feather in my cap so to speak, but again, not where I had wanted to be.
All of this to ask - when have men ever had the kind of opportunities that women are now enjoying? Seriously don't start foaming at the mouth until you think that through. I keep hearing how disadvantaged women "are." However, I can see how disadvantaged that women "were." Today is a different story. In Canada at least, a very large percentage of the successful film companies are women owned and operated. My last ten jobs were all for women. In my lifetime in the business I never discriminated between men or women when hiring for any position. Most guys I know in the industry have been doing the same for at least two decades.
Truthfully yes I'm jealous of the networking capabilities that women seem to have. They are naturals at it whereas the males of the business are more independent and competitive. Women for eons have pointed out the "old boys clubs" and while in some time periods and in some businesses that did apply it doesn't so much anymore. Even within those "boys clubs" it was more of a "I'm going to get all these guys together in one place so I can see what my competition is - what I'm up against." Mentoring is actually rare in this business of freelancers. Mentoring is a corporate kind of think. That said, I ponder the question of how all of us can get into the mentoring/networking mode. When there is a struggle for jobs, networking kind of goes out the window. Everyone jealously guards every scrap of information, every rumor of work. So how do we generate enough new jobs to bring the system online again? Where does the money come from to make this happen? This was all happening long before the so called economic downturn.
How do guys like me get out of the production side and into the creative side - where are the programs for us? We had dreams too. Just because we ended up as the care takers of the industry doesn't mean that's what we wanted to do. Somebody, anybody, give us a shot before we're too old to appreciate it.
Here's the WIF info I was referring to earlier. Wow, to have access to this kind of training at any age!
WIDC Module 1:
Story Incubation Module (SIM)
December 4 to 7, 2009
Director Applications & Criteria
WIDC Module 2:
Prep Production and Post Production Module (PPPM):
January 14 to 31, 2010
(Module 1 Directors, Actors & Crew)
Applications & Criteria
Actors | Professional Crew | Work Study Crew
CTV WIDC Scholarship Fund
Director applicants will be automatically considered
for this funding support when selected to attend WIDC.
For more scholarships
WIDC Feature Film Award
Congratulations 2009 Winner: Katrin Bowen!
Open to all Canadian women directors;
valued at nearly $100,000 in in kind rentals from
Western Canadian Industry organizations..
Next Deadline: March 31, 2010
CTV WIDC Career Advancement Module (CAM)
Congratulations to this season's CAM Participants:
Paulina Abarca-Cantin, Allison Beda, Lois Brown, Deanne Foley
Carolyn Combs, Karen Hines, Lulu Keating, Tracy D. Smith
Carole Ducharme, Danishka Esterhazy, Anne Marie Nakagawa, Alison Reid
Next Deadline: September 15, 2009 for St John's Session CTV WIDC Director Development Award
Next Deadline: March 31, 2010