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Women Making History, Part 3


The Women Making History interview series continues, with Panavision President and CEO Kim Snyder steering the conversation toward mentorship. Here, the participants share insights gleaned from mentors and mentees alike.

Read the rest of the series here:

Part 1: On the impact of Women's History Month

Part 2: On valuable career advice

Part 4: On career highlights

Part 5: On inspiration

Kim Snyder (President and CEO, Panavision): What role has mentorship played in your journey?

Laura Merians Gon alves (cinematographer): I've had so many mentors, and they've all been valuable teachers in different ways. It's important to have people on speed dial that you can ask anything I consider them my Jedi counsel.

Cinematography is a craft, so it's essential to have skills handed down. I strongly believe in mentorship. I've mentored for Local 600, and I also mentor a lot of young men and women. I make sure I have a trainee, not just in the camera department, but also in grip and electric, where women are still scarcely represented. Since I didn't go to film school, I believe mentorship is how people become poised for success.

Laura Merians Gon alves

Patti Lee, ASC (cinematographer): I'm so thankful for the support I've received throughout my career. One DP I was gaffing for, Victor Nelli Jr., who is now a director, really made a huge difference in my life. I learned so much about shooting television not just how to juggle prep, shoot and post, but more importantly how to navigate the set politically.

I'm glad to now be doing the same for others. I've been co-chairing the ASC Vision Mentorship Program since its inception 4 1/2 years ago and have taken on mentees throughout the program. It's great getting feedback from them, especially when some of the advice works!

Terra Bliss (managing director, Panavision UK and Ireland): I haven't participated in a formal mentorship program, but there have been many people who have inspired me and provided guidance along the way. While I was in New York, I really saw how well production, camera and post teams looked after each other, helping make recommendations, asking for advice and supporting one another. That has always stayed with me as an example of bringing others along as you move forward.

Autumn Durald Arkapaw, ASC (cinematographer): I've been fortunate enough to have met very encouraging and supportive filmmakers throughout my career. People who gave me a chance when they could have easily hired someone with more experience. They saw my drive and determination and helped me along the way. Having confidence in your ideas was something I learned early on and was an important lesson I learned from my mentors.

I was fortunate enough to work with photographer and director Melodie McDaniel early on in my career. Her photography was so inspiring to me, and being able to be by her side and watch her run a set and capture her images encouraged me to be confident in my own abilities. She championed my work to others and ultimately gave me my first big commercial opportunity.

Quyen Tran, ASC (cinematographer): Mentorship plays a huge role in my journey as a cinematographer. Not only do I have mentors of my own, but I have mentees in both the Academy Gold and ASC programs. Mentorship is a two-way street even though Im there to provide experience and knowledge to younger filmmakers, I learn so much from conversing with my mentees. Its good to practice what you preach, in other words, and mentoring is a beautiful reminder of that.

Quyen Tran, ASC (photo by Chris Willard)

Sandy Ferguson (chief human resources officer, Panavision): Mentorship has been a large part of my career. I think it is key to being successful as a leader. You have to have the ability to be self-reflective and open to constructive critique on how you can improve. Not only have I worked for leaders who have mentored me, but I believe that all coworkers provide mentorship in one way or another. People constantly provide opportunities for learning, both in positive ways and in negative ways, both of which have helped me shape and define my own professional style.

Michele Channer (business development director, Panalux; managing director, Direct Digital and Island Studios): Mentorship is important. Despite having a varied career, I am conscious that there is always more to learn, and I would hope not to make the mistake of believing I have all the answers!

I've been lucky to work with a couple of people I truly admire and to this day can call for advice or use as a sounding board. It's not always leaders that make the best mentors. I've worked with some incredible people whose values and work ethic I admire and try to emulate.

Amy Vincent, ASC (cinematographer): John Lindley ASC was my first true mentor. I wasn't sure I wanted to become a cinematographer, but I knew I wanted to become an intelligent, generous, honest, kind human being, like him. He taught me so much that it is impossible to put into words. I am forever grateful, and it inspires me to pay it forward and to continue to mentor others.

Mentorship is a huge part of my world, both on set and in the classroom. I have a film, A Nice Indian Boy, premiering at SXSW, and my amazing mentee of 12 years, cinematographer Veronica Bouza, has her first feature, The Gutter, premiering the day before at SXSW. Full circle!

Kira Kelly, ASC (cinematographer): Mentors are extremely important. I was really lucky to have found incredible mentors when I was just starting out who continue to be invaluable to me now. Being a mentor is a privilege. It's exciting to see what wonderful things my mentees are up to.

Kira Kelly, ASC (photo by David Lee, courtesy of Netflix)

Johanna Gravelle (managing director, Panavision Canada): I have had both formal and informal me
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