Women in Media (WIM) was a weekend-long event which invited women from various branches of the entertainment industry to advise and describe their experiences. The women who came varied from screenwriters to cinematographers. The event took place both on the second floor of the SSMS Building and the Pollock Theater.
I arrived Sunday to sit in on a couple of the workshops that were geared toward female students. The first workshop of the day was titled “How to Adult” and was run by Kathy Wertheim, a master trainer in fundraising and in knowing “how to ask for money and get it.” She dedicated her hour and a half to important tips for adult life after college. These included important lessons such as the basics of financing and how to say “No.”
Marie Cantin, an award winning producer with experience in independent and studio film and television production, was the second guest of the morning. She described the importance of “Finding Your Voice,” an enlightening discussion of figuring out who you are as a person to help navigate the decisions you make for your career.
She illustrated this by questioning the students, “What kind of tree would you want to be?” This metaphorical question works as a way of having you think of how to tell your stories. In other words, it was a critical thinking exercise on describing your narrative through the tree. She then went on to early experiences in the industry, including how she got her first job. “Everyone has a different first job story … there’s multiple ways to get in,” was a recurring quote among all the industry workers.
The panels that ended both Saturday and Sunday were held at the Pollock Theater. Saturday’s panel consisted of returning alumni, titled “You Do What!?!” and included Lauren Haroutunian, cinematographer of RocketJump, and Andulka Wilkes, an editor at Moving Art based in Los Angeles. Wilkes has worked on documentaries, music videos and narratives.
On Sunday the students sat in on a panel titled “Leading Ladies,” consisting of various writers in the industry, from journalist Starshine Roshell, who moderated as well, to drama writer Anne Cofell Saunders, who worked on shows such as 24 and Battlestar Galactica.
All of the workshops intended to shine light on obscure industry careers as well as the gender issues that occur in Hollywood. There were some women like Haroutunian who described the difference between overt harassment and the “not-so-overt stuff,” stating the decision of “either directly confronting people about it, or picking up the camera and kicking ass.”
Cantin, among others, stated, “I never thought about it. I went around doing things that I wanted to do.” She also gave her thoughts on the term “political correctness” by stating, “That term is unfortunate … it’s turned into something else. All I could say is be civilized.”
Before leaving I interviewed fourth-year film and media studies major Kirsten Pierre, the head organizer of the conference, to get insight on the planning and setting up that took place.
“Joe Palladino approached several girls in the department and said, ‘You know I’ve had this idea, do you think it will work?’” she said. “And I thought it’d be a perfect time in the industry to do that … People are trying to have a more gender-diverse vibe in the industry. Every person who came to me afterward told me they learned a lot from the panels. I think they thought it was very helpful.”
I asked her about the process of inviting guests and she described how the club got in contact with over 30 women in the industry. She stated, “They were ecstatic,” referring to a WIM club at UCSB. They claimed it was a great idea and were more than willing to offer any help they could give to the club. We spoke further on the topic of women not just in media, but in all career paths. “In today’s world it’s gaining a lot more traction,” she said. “[Women] are gaining more respect.”
The WIM Club did an amazing job of creating a weekend long event that displayed the various career paths for women students interested in the film and entertainment industry. More importantly, the guests provided general advice to help guide graduating students for life after college and into adulthood. Kirsten Pierre says there are plans for future events, and she is sure there will be a WIM Conference next year.
This is the first year the conference was held and run by the WIM Club with the help of the Film and Media Department and the Carsey Wolfe Center, along with other clubs such as The Filmmaker’s Co-op and Writer’s Room.