McClung’s Magazine blogger Nancy Barnett was invited to attend the Crystal Awards on Dec. 5 held at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The 24th annual gala luncheon hosted by the not-for-profit Women in Film and Television Toronto Division (WIFT-T) recognizes and celebrates the achievements of women and men in film, television and digital media. Below is her interview with Carol Whiteman, winner of WIFT’s Mentorship Award, the fourth of six interviews with winners and the women behind WIFT-T to come at McClungs.ca.
By: Nancy Barnett
Based in Vancouver, Carol is the co-creator of the Women in the Director’s Chair program (WIDC), presented by the Creative Women Workshops Association (CWWA). Through the organization’s support and Whiteman’s mentorship, the careers of hundreds of female directors have been advanced.
Why is mentorship so important to you?
My path of advocacy and mentorship is about being aware, of letting voices be heard that aren’t being recognized or haven’t been recognized traditionally.
Who are your favourite directors in Canada?
There are lots of wonderful directors. Certainly, there are 160 of them that I love and admire because they’ve gone through our program and we’ve been right behind them in their careers. Then there are the women directors who have mentored like Anne Wheeler, Norma Bailey, Stacey Curtis and Léa Pool. We have a wonderfully rich pool of female directors in Canada that I think are highly undervalued. There are only a handful of women directors in Canada that are consistently working but I think they’re an eclectic bunch and I love that about them.
What advice would you give to wannabe TV writers and producers trying to find their first job?
This industry is really based on sincere relationships. We’re all inundated with requests for support and help. It’s from the sincere individual who is really ready to work hard on their career path that inspires people to take notice and to offer assistance. To make a long story short, take responsibility for the work that you have to do to develop the contacts and relationships that you need in this industry.
Do you think Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar win for best director made an impact on the industry? Do you think there is more opportunity for females in a directorial role now?
I have a definite opinion on that. I think it made an impact for sure but I don’t think it made an impact in the way that we expect it might have. When a woman achieves something like this, a milestone, the Oscar for feature films, there is a tendency for a “resting on the laurels” type of attitude to take hold. In the subsequent years, there were no women nominated for that directorial accolade. There’s a tendency to have a backlash or a pendulum swing in the opposite direction and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a couple of years before another woman gets nominated for an Oscar. It would be delightful if the pendulum went into the middle and it would be a mixed bag from year to year but historically, I haven’t seen things play themselves out that way. It’s great that she won but I predict that the pendulum will be on the other side for some time now. People will say a woman has won already so we don’t have to worry about that now.