Meet this weeks Girl About… film, Rachel Seeney find out how she started her blog and her advice for aspiring filmmakers, students and more…
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The WFC (women’s film collective) is great, how did you come up with it?
The Women’s Film Collective started out of a need I felt when searching for a supportive group of women who were interested in film.I began with a simple website which started about a year ago. In the beginning, it was used to share what I was learning and discuss topics related to women’s representation in film and television. But it became much more, it became a platform to highlight other women’s voices in the film and television industry. I started reaching out to women I knew who perhaps hadn’t had the confidence or space available to them to try something like writing for a T.V. series and covering film festivals.
How did you become a filmmaker?
I just started. No one gives you permission and you don’t have to be good- just start. Start with small videos. Today there is no reason why you can’t learn editing software. Begin with anything you can get your hands on, look up YouTube videos to find the solution to any question you may have. I started by learning Final Cut Pro. Money can be an issue, but today there are so many free resources available.
Reach out- as you begin to make short videos, you’ll find it’s impossible to do it on your own, you’re going to need a crew and talent, so be ready to connect with people who may be able to aid you on your journey. Some of your first videos can feature anything. Just start!
What motivates you to keep going?
I’ve only just begun 🙂
What advice would you give your teenage self?
My advice to my teenage self, and to other young women, is to seek the opportunities the system of patriarchy and sexist narratives have deprived you of. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you shouldn’t be in the profession of what you feel passionately about, shouldn’t ask that question, raise your voice, or do the things that make you happy.
Because we live in a world that gender streamlines us, where we still see the effects of division of labour, from a young age, many young women are left out of the loop when it comes to technology, science, film, politics… and any other male dominated field. My advice to my high school self, and to all young women out there, is to seek out those opportunities to participate in these things we’ve been left out of. Many young women will never have teachers or parents willing to introduce them to these fields; take your education into your own hands. We in privileged societies with access to the World Wide Web have this amazing opportunity to become proficient in almost any subject. For example, I’m currently learning coding through the Khan Academy online. Be constantly looking to grow, evolve and expand your knowledge and form networks with other women, young and old, eager to do the same.
To those in high school, I would point to young women in high school who are already making a difference such as thirteen year old’s Tessa Hill and Lia Valente who created a documentary entitled, “Allegedly” on the subject of rape culture. It became a viral sensation which led to them getting over 30,000 signatures in favour of adding consent to the Ontario sexual education curriculum. I would encourage everyone who is in high school to take as many women’s studies classes as possible, which are sure to touch on topics of representation of women on screen, giving you tools to critically examine and understand the sometimes damaging messaging present in film and media.
What advice would you give an aspiring filmmaker?
Talk less, do more!
What has been the most memorable highlight of your career so far?
Recently I covered an environmental protest organized by 350.org called the Climate Welcome in Ottawa, Canada. The Climate Welcome was four days of peaceful protests, marches and sit-ins at the newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s residence on Sussex Drive, urging divestment in fossil fuels and a freeze on Alberta’s controversial Tar Sands.
This was really a career highlight for me – this job combined my passion for a particular issue with my love of documentaries. It challenged me with tight deadlines, as I was hired to produce one minute video clips each day of the four day protest. I would spend my time during the day interviewing those participating in the action and documenting key moments during the sit in’s, I then had to have content ready to be released by the evening and for the following morning. The tight deadlines challenged me in my decisiveness around editing and my ability to produce content at a fast rate.
I spent my years in university studying International Development and Globalization where we learned about desertification and issues around water security. I can remember going to class directly following a protest at Parliament hill against the Keystone XL Pipelines, with the sign I held rested beside my desk, my professor chose to debate the economic value of the tar sands. Thanks to amazing women like Naomi Klein, who make knowledge around these subjects’s so accessible, I was able to really engage. I spent a summer working in an environmental science lab in Edmonton, Alberta, where I regularly measured contaminated water and soil samples that would come in by the hundreds from Alberta tailings ponds, seeing up close the damage to the water and soil. When the opportunity came up to work with a great media team hired by an organization like 350, who my heroes like Naomi are affiliated with, I jumped at the chance and it was worth it.
I was given the opportunity to speak with and interview highly respected indigenous leaders and activists who came from all across Canada representing the First Nation’s communities whose water and lands are affected by the contamination from the fossil fuel industry in Canada, as well as the theft of their land and resources by industry. During these four days, I was privileged to bear witness to traditional ceremonies. A sacred water ceremony was performed on the third day. Through my lens, I captured empowering imagery that I’d seldom seen in my own cultural upbringing in a white Western Christian family. It was an honour to capture the visual representations of women leading their community in ceremony.
Democracy Now (my favourite worldwide independent news source) picked up one of my interviews from the action; I was elated. Getting to capture important issues, voices and use film as a tool to support such a justice based movement was definitely a highlight of my career thus far and I intend to do more of it in my future.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
Right now I’m in the writing stages of a web series with the Women’s Film Collective, as well as working on a documentary that looks into the Canadian legal system’s handling of gender based crimes such as rape or domestic assault. More on that soon! In the meantime, come meet the team on www.womensfilmcollective.com and check out our latest blog posts, festival reviews and interviews with inspiring women working in the film industry.
All images provided by interviewee: Rachel Seeney