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Women Making History, Part 2

08/03/2024

In this installment of Panavision's Women Making History interview series, the conversation turns to key advice that has helped guide the participants as they've navigated their career paths.

Read the rest of the series here:

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

Part 3: On mentorship

Part 4: On career highlights

Part 5: On inspiration

Kim Snyder (President and CEO, Panavision): What's the best advice you've received? How has it helped you on your journey?

Polly Morgan, ASC, BSC (cinematographer): I think in the early days, I was hungry and determined and wanted to achieve so much so quickly. I remember Haris Zambarloukos [BSC, GSC] telling me one day, It's a marathon, not a sprint.' These words helped me back then and still help me today.

Cinematography feels like my life's work, and as I grow and evolve as a human, my work gets more complex and layered. As a storyteller, it's my years living that always inspire my work, and now, being older and having children, I feel like I have grown and changed so much. When you are young, you want everything in a hurry, and now that I am older, I see that as I grow my work grows also.

These words have given me encouragement during difficult times. When you are starting out as a DP, it is hard to find an agent, hard to book the right jobs and work with the right people. It takes time to nourish a career in cinematography, and when things have taken longer than I might have liked, these words have given me support. It is not a career that happens overnight, and it takes tenacity and dedication to stick with it and keep believing that you will make it in the end.

Polly Morgan, ASC, BSC (photo by Manny Duran)

Alice Brooks, ASC (cinematographer): My producing professor at USC said Hollywood is like a massive brick wall. The goal is to get to the other side of the wall. You spend day after day throwing rocks against the wall, trying to break through. It will probably take many years or even decades. Much of the time you will want to give up. But one day you will see a small hole through to the other side. No matter how small the opening, that is the moment you can't give up and must be more determined than ever. You must throw more rocks even harder because you are closer to breaking through than you think.

Whenever I feel like things are too challenging or I can't go on, I remember this lesson. It keeps me in the game.

Victoria Emslie (actor; founder and CEO, Primetime Network): Having always had a very singular mindset and approach to my vocation, I resonate deeply with not if, but when.' There is no rush, despite the ever-pressing ageism within our Industry. I know that if I have worked before, I will work again. This belief has helped weather many storms. Also, having a busy mind to carry out other impactful projects in this space has allowed me to stay connected and contributing in a diverse plethora of ways to creating an industry which I am proud and excited to be a part of.

Victoria Emslie (photo by Matt Hass)

Kira Kelly, ASC (cinematographer): There are two quotes that I consider two sides of the same coin: Life is a race you run against yourself,' and Comparison is the thief of joy.' It's so easy in our industry, especially with social media, to constantly be looking at someone elses career to measure yourself against. That can really do bad things to your self-esteem and blind you to all of the progress you have made and are making in your own. I try to focus on my journey and acknowledge how much I've grown as an artist in the last year, in the last 5 years. I then look at where I've been stagnant and try to spark something in those spaces. This is by no means easy, and I often do find myself in comparison mode, but I always try to gently nudge my way back to focusing on my own path.

Amy Vincent, ASC (cinematographer): As a cinematographer: When Bob Richardson, ASC kicked me out of the nest, he told me, If your lighting gets too complicated you are f***ing it up!' As a human: Say yes to everything!

Laura Merians Gon alves (cinematographer): Ellen Kuras, ASC told me a long time ago that it's a long game, so stick with it. And to always wear a dress on jib days.

Sandy Ferguson (chief human resources officer, Panavision): I've had some great advice from leaders, and I've passed this on over the years. Key things like know your audience,' everyone has a confidant,' lead by example,' operate with transparency,' perception is reality' and always be prepared' come to mind. In my role, these have helped me over the years as it is important to remain objective and also to be able to see things from multiple perspectives.

Sandy Ferguson

Mandy Walker, AM, ASC, ACS (cinematographer): The best advice I received was to follow your passion and don't be discouraged when someone's concerned or not used to a woman being the director of photography. Also to be respectful and kind to other crew members, and that the best experiences come from the successful collaborations of all departments.

Terra Bliss (managing director, Panavision UK and Ireland): A few bits of advice I fall back on: Never make a big decision until you've had a vacation. A clear mind typically points you in the right direction. Don't be afraid of making a mistake, there is always a lesson to be learned in there. It is better to be fair than to be right. When someone says something can't be done, don't believe them. And ask for help you can't do it alone!

Patti Lee, ASC (cinematographer): Be a good listener.' When I first started out as a set lighting technician, I learned how to anticipate what was needed by paying attention and listening to the director and DP talk. When filming documentaries, there is no sc
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