Friday, February 12, 2021

Progress Made and Needed in Film and Television (guest post)

A guest post from my friend and colleague Thomai Hatsios:

It was 2015, I was on set and I waited for it. I waited and waited ...and it didn't happen.

2015 was the first time I was on set and I did not hear, You're the first woman _____(fill in my position on the job) I've ever worked with!

I was the only woman in the crew, but I was not their first woman in that position that is more often filled by a man.

For the longest time, if you were a woman in the crew, it was assumed you were there to work in makeup, hair, wardrobe, as scripty, coordinator, or production office assistant.

Thank you Wendal Scott Reeder for giving me my first opportunity to work on the set of a high-budget job with union crew. We met when a friend hired me, a single mom who was struggling, for a position I was not right for (office PA) on commercials aka promos for network television shows.

Coming from live performance, I didn't know how to use a 3 hole puncher, a printer, I didn't have a laptop. I had not learned how to sit still for more than 15 minutes, yet. (Sorry for ruining the wrap book, Courtney.)

When I told Wendal I needed to be on set, I wanted to learn EVERYTHING so I could be an informed director, producer, production company owner, and that I'd been directing experimental films- he responded by moving me to work on set. It was bliss.

Over the years, I worked in a variety of productions with budgets ranging from 1M for one day of shooting to 300K for 25 days of shooting in all but two departments both on and off set.

As a single mom of a wild artist, we hired my son who was 14 yrs old then, to work on set as a production assistant, only for the art department to grab him up, utilize his artistic skills. That grabbing him up that happens when department heads recognize one of their own, didn't happen for women so much back then. I made sure to change that.

Every day that I was not working with a more typically woman staffed department, I would hear that line, You're the first woman _____(fill in my position on the job) I've ever worked with! and I knew I was not alone in hearing that.

When I met a woman I knew would be a great grip or electric or AD, etc. - I made sure to help them into that department. I do the same with men, though when it's a woman and I know she'd be perfect for a dept. that is less typically staffed by women, it requires allies to step up.

Thank you, Lyon Reese for mentoring me and countless others.

Thank you Stacy Dean for taking women I knew were grips in the making, under your wing. I bet women grips still hear, Wow, you're the first woman grip I've ever worked with! in 2021.

When I was injured from aerial work, I worked as an editor.
Now the pandemic has forced me to develop as a writer.

My incredibly creative beau and I have been inspired to create projects I can direct, that are as understaffed and under-budgeted as my experimental films were way back in the day- and it's been saving my soul. It feels so good to exercise the muscle that directing is. It's fun.

Thank goodness for the women who came before us, who paved the way. Thank goodness for allies. Thank goodness for women creating opportunities for women directors every day. Thank goodness for the men and women who rise above stereotypes and irrational restrictions. WOC, LGBTQI+, Women with disabilities are creating some of the most appreciated content now. Thank goodness.

And for me, I'm using every drop of privilege I have, every day, every breath, to inform my directing and help shift the paradigm to be more inclusive.

Some of Thomai's work on vimeo

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this posted by David August at 12:51 PM 

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