Ryerson holds second women-in-film conference

(Brynn Farren/Ryersonian Staff)

(Brynn Farren/Ryersonian Staff)

Ric Bienstock believes there is no better time than now for women to enter the film industry.

“Being a female is an advantage… I would hate to be a white man in the business,” the Emmy Award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker said at a conference discussing women in the film industry.

The conference was hosted by Ryerson’s school of image arts and focused on industry experiences of women in the film. Much of the discussion was about how emerging female filmmakers could make their mark in the industry.

The overall consensus: it’s about working with what you’ve got.

Bienstock said that there are a lot of resources available to women and a lot of ways to get
money to produce projects.

“It’s about knowing where to look,” said fellow panellist Christina Piovesan, producer and president of First Generation Films Inc.

While Bienstock’s area of expertise is documentaries, Piovesan’s business is feature films. Her company is known for producing Whistleblower with Rachel Weisz and, more recently, Regression starring Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson.

Piovesan said she recognizes that the business side of feature film production is male-dominated. She also knows a thing or two about rejection, but never takes it personally. Reflecting on her early years in the industry, she spoke of a time when she had to realize that she had to be two different people.

“It’s about distinguishing the difference between someone talking to you and talking to you,” she said. “It’s not Christina they are rejecting, it’s this kid.”

When she says “kid” she is referring to the role you play as an entry-level worker. You have no position, no authority and no power. It’s all about the work. You’ve got to be “willing to put in the sweat, and sweat equity,” said Piovesan.

Now an industry veteran, Piovesan said she fights every day to stay competitive. She’s become confident and has follow-through. Piovesan uses words such as opportunistic and unapologetic to describe herself — ideal for an industry that is based on power and position, where rejection is so casually common.

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