Lately I’ve been especially tired of seeing the careers and lives of my female peers in post production minimized by assumptions and ignorance. A lot of women in the community face a lot of additional barriers to promotion and growth because people think they’re less experienced, doing lower quality work, or just don’t have the ambition. These assumptions are incredibly harmful and create points in mid-career where women end up exiting.
Some women are assumed to be younger and less experienced. Other women who are younger are assumed to be inexperienced. To protest this attitude, I shared the career of one woman each day as a count down to the 2017 Primetime Creative Arts Emmys.
But you know what? Women don’t have to tell you exactly what they’re doing or where they’ve been every day to gain respect and validity. Just like men, for all the women working in the public eye today I’ve shared with you all week, there are so many others who quietly do the work and move on. Many of the women I celebrated this week have entirely invisible, thankless jobs in the industry, and yet their work is minimized and their selves are infantilized in a way that men are not. Because the default setting for women is always less than, and the burden of proof is somehow put on them to prove their value.
Instead of assuming women are new baby birds who need your guidance in the world, how about you ask yourself: what can I learn from them?
Here’s a recap of the women I celebrated this week.
MONDAY: Katie Hinsen
Katie Hinsen is a world renowned finishing artist whose credits include The Lovely Bones, Knowing, and District 9, of which she was also part of the Oscar nominated team for Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects. After a stint in New York, she’s now Head of Operations at New Zealand’s Department of Post and recently nominated for a Kiwi Innovation award for most inspiring New Zealander for co-founding Blue Collar Post Collective.
She’s internationally known as a thought leader and an expert in technologies like HDR and stereoscopic and was part of the team that did R&D on the first RED camera’s digital workflow for Peter Jackson. She’s been an NAB show keynote speaker and SMPTE author. But mostly she values the future of post production, both in its technology and its workforce.
TUESDAY: Katie Toomey
She may be one of my long-time friends, but Katie Toomey is also a top of the line picture editor. Like me, she matured professionally in Indiana and a job in the South before arriving in LA. Katie has been an editor for the better part of a decade, spending half that time freelancing on corporate, industrials and indies and the other half as a staff editor in a busy, highly demanding advertising agency.
She’s used to the kind of work that means she has to create something out of literally nothing in a matter of hours. Much of that work has been in the less understood stages of pitching and visualization, which means many national ads you’ve undoubtedly seen were actually driven by her uncredited editorial work.
As a result of the quick turn deadlines that have been common in her career, she’s lightning fast – especially with motion graphics. She also cut a feature that premiered to a sold out crowd on one of Indiana’s few IMAX screens. She’s gathered up awards and honors for her various edits or contributions on indies and other projects. And she helped found Blue Collar Post Collective’s mental health group and serves as LA’s mental health coordinator.
She arrived in LA and started editing narrative work within a month, a link to which I will post in the comments. Her career path has been unconventional and has never unfurled itself without a fight, but here she is.
WEDNESDAY: Isabel Yanes, Emily Rayl, and Audrey Rabine.
I’ve highlighted a couple of women who are deeper into their careers so far this week, but I wanted to remind everyone of the power of those who are in the first five years of their careers too. There aren’t enough days in the week, so I’m condensing: let me introduce you to Isabel, Emily, and Audrey. All three women moved to Los Angeles around the same time from the Great American South following their schooling. I can’t imagine the difficulty of finishing college and immediately dropping into the culture shock of Los Angeles, but here they are — and they’re thriving.
A lot of people probably think it’s really easy to get into editing in Los Angeles, but it actually takes a lot of skill and networking, especially when you’re brand new to the city and industry, to get to the right opportunities that will both keep you fed and housed while counting toward the days that will qualify you for union work. There’s a tremendous amount of paperwork and red tape involved with getting to the point where someone will let you edit something people actually watch. A lot of navigating a career involves careful plotting and occasionally taking steps backward to move on. It’s astounding these young women have made it so far in their careers in such a short amount of time in such a harshly competitive city.
Isabel Yanes moved to LA about a year ago, shortly after graduating from UGA using money she earned in part by a Google Docs related side-hustle. She found a place to live (a serious feat) and a place to work almost immediately as assistant editor at Fine Brothers, where she was also occasionally on camera and gaining fans. Now she’s an assistant editor on reality programming at Punch Drunk Pictures, working her way toward union-eligibility. She’s also a talented animation editor, mentor, and regular BCPC volunteer.
Emily Rayl arrived in Los Angeles from North Carolina a little over a year ago, but she already had a network built thanks to her choice of schooling at UNCSA — and her American Cinema Editors Student Eddie Award nomination in 2016. Jumping off from an internship at a busy trailer house, she was hired as assistant editor and even started cutting before making a move into narrative work as a post PA at Legendary Pictures.
Audrey Rabine also came to LA from UNCSA about a year ago, and took the risk to do so for a job before her schooling was entirely finished. Taking a big risk to move across the country for what is essentially a freelance position, not knowing what will come next is really brave and it seems to have turned out for her while she served as post PA for The Mummy. Now she’s most recently served as post PA on Hawaii 5-0. Being hired on a feature is no small feat, and jumping from movies to TV is yet another big accomplishment.
THURSDAY: Moni Salazar
Monica Salazar is a prime example of what it really takes to get ahead in the post production industry. She’s from Monterrey, Mexico — which is where my paternal side of the family is from! — and came to Los Angeles from Mexico to attend USC. Among her many accomplishments she’s had a short film she edited premiere at Cannes Film Festival and won countless other awards as part of winning post teams.
She’s worked her way through various jobs in the industry from PA to post super to assistant, ascending rapidly in just a few years to most recently become assistant editor on the feature film “Zoe” where she works alongside the editor of “Birdman.” She also tries to elevate other women in post whenever possible and take part in the community.
In a US political climate that isn’t especially welcoming to immigrants right now, I’m guessing Moni has to occasionally deal with casual (and not so casual) racism on top of the sexism women face. But damn if she doesn’t plow ahead and do the work in the face of whatever additional challenges she might face. Moni is kind, generous, and takes absolutely no shit — a lethal combination in Hollywood.
FRIDAY: Siân Fever
Siân is a world-class editor with incredible insight and talent. She started out editing short form and music content for MTV, working her way up the UK post scene through commercials, promos, awards shows, and festivals. She was featured in magazines, podcasts and stages throughout her short form career because she has such a skill in describing her work.
She eventually moved into narrative work as an assistant editor for “Call the Midwife” and currently she works as a previz editor for The Third Floor, putting her editing talents to work on Wonder Woman and Alien Covenant. Previz editors are another little-understood and even more invisible role in post production, but I’m not sure Siân is bothered by this so while she’s working side by side with some of the biggest directors in the business today. She was recently on a panel at ACE EditFest London discussing her feature previz work.
Aside from her day job, Siân has also spoken at NAB Show in Vegas and IBC in Amsterdam on behalf of herself and vendors like Adobe, and she tries to get involved in the community through boards and committees, the most awesome of which recently has been Nine Worlds GeekFest, a sci-fi/fantasy con with a big focus on being welcoming to all.
Siân is heavily involved with making the industry and adjacent parts of it more inclusive for everyone and speaks out about equality and leveling the playing field whenever possible.
SATURDAY: Since today is the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony, I wanted to celebrate two women I work with whose post production talents make those Emmy-winning shows possible: Payton List and Rachel McIntire. Their problem-solving skills require no less creativity, but there’s no Emmy category for “best 3AM workflow workaround.” YET.
Payton is a Workflow Producer at Bling, which means she oversees the technical aspects of every show in the Los Angeles office and helps guide the office toward making good workflow decisions in its standards and practices. Payton grew up in Chicago and went to school for cinematography before jumping to Los Angeles. Funnily enough, in LA she spent time in the medical field with the prospect of pursuing it as a career before she was swept back into film. She’s worked her way up in a rapidly growing and changing company, coming in on the ground floor of Sim over five years ago as a camera prep tech and ascending through numerous challenges, changes, and assumptions to become LA’s producer. Payton is not only a great leader, but she’s fair and dives into the trenches when things get rough. Her credits include The Leftovers, The Son, Fuller House, Dominion and countless others, and this work has brought her to Tokyo, Austin, and South Africa. On top of her job, she also climbs a lot of mountains — most recently Mt. Fuji.
Rachel is a Workflow Supervisor along with me at Bling, and she’s in charge of the workflow and day to day of dailies for shows like Just Add Magic. Rachel is a bad ass at jumping into a disaster and trying to make it work, a skill she honed at Company 3 while working on “Blackhat” in Hong Kong. Bling absorbed her as a dailies tech and then put her to work at Legendary handling VFX pulls and stereo/3D review for over a year on huge complex films like Warcraft and The Great Wall. She’s a Baselight Queen. Aside from those films, she has credits on the upcoming Alpha, Teen Wolf, Sharknado 2, Pretty Little Liars, and more. Aside from her deep technical work, she volunteers with national parks for trail maintenance and is certified in wilderness first aid. She’s a world traveler, having studied abroad in New Zealand, visited every continent, and even climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro — off to Ireland next!
FRIDAY: Meaghan Wilbur
On the heels of her second Primetime Emmy nomination, I’m remembering how much she lent her nearly two decades of editing experience to me while I was trying to figure out how to get around story issues while cutting my first (very small indie) feature several years ago. I’m recalling how when she was working through workflow issues on a quick-turn piece at Sesame Street (which ended up being Cookie Monster’s Share It Maybe, which went viral), she also took me into her apartment in New York and fed me tea and sandwiches and validation. I’m appreciating how she let me be a fly on the wall while she flew through a night at Conan, resolving technical issue after issue while working with producers on finishing pieces that were shot merely hours before. I love her war stories and her careful and nuanced insight into workers rights, setting boundaries, and living a life that isn’t revolving around work while I respect her generosity toward our community.