gender disparity

What I learnt about freelancing full time (and other things)

Two years ago as part of my recovery from post-natal depression, my husband resigned and become a stay-at-home dad and I went back to work, this time dedicating 5 days a week to freelancing.  Work-wise, I could do whatever I liked, whenever I liked, for the first time in what felt like forever. 

I did now however, have the sole responsibility of bringing home the bacon as they say, to support our new family of four.  There’s nothing like survival mode to get you out of bed in the morning.  After having two stints of maternity leave in the previous 4 years (plus an unplanned 65 day stay in hospital in another country while pregnant), I felt frustrated that as a woman my career had to be so interrupted.  I had worked really hard to become a busy freelance colourist in Sydney prior to to all of this, and so now, I was going to go back to work with gusto.  It was my time.

To help me along the way I became a bit of a podcast fiend.  Inspirational and motivational podcasts were my new soundtrack.  If Brene Brown, Tony Robbins or Lewis Howes mean anything to you, then you know what I’m talking about.  They became my mentors.  Lots of people think it’s all a bit woo-woo, talking about the universe and manifestation but I love that shit and if you ever want to sit in my suite and nerd out about any of this stuff I’m your woman!!  One thing I learnt (thanks Tony) was that the secret to happiness and abundance is giving away. 

It was during a particularly slow couple of weeks of work where I put this idea of ‘giving away to become abundant’ to the test.  For my mental health I also needed to be busy.   I decided to offer free colour grading to female filmmakers who needed support.  For a myriad of reasons I wanted to support women in particular and I received over 100 applications from all over the country.  Filmmakers who were trying to get their films made with limited time and resources… this was the definition of inspiring.  Without hesitation, Rob Saroff at ZIGZAG Post said yes when I asked if he would provide the facility for me, he said he would even contribute all of the online editing.  I learnt about the power of generosity and friendship.  I met filmmakers like Imogen Thomas who were crowdfunding to make a debut feature film.  With such a deep sense of duty to the people of the Brewarrina community, Imogen taught me about perseverance and stoicism in the face of unrelenting challenges.  The colour grading initiative gave me a renewed love for our screen industry, for it’s filmmakers and cemented the idea that I wanted and needed to be involved in something greater than myself.

If you have seen me at an event it may surprise you to read that I too hate networking.  I learnt to reframe it as “making friends”.  I decided that most people have an interesting story to tell and the best bit is that we all have something in common already which is our love of creating for the screen.  So I decided to actively try and make new friends (nerd!) but when you’re open to that it becomes a lot more enjoyable.  I decided to invite some of these new friends for coffee or lunch, because now I had 5 days a week to do with them what I pleased.  I’d email people and let them know that I really enjoyed meeting them, which was true.

The universe brought filmmaker Monica Davidson into my life.  I colour graded her film and then, oh, Monica also runs an amazing business advisory service?  Would I like to go?  Umm.. YASS!  Monica taught me the practical things like getting a business bank account and some accounting software but she also planted a seed in my head.  That I could get an employee.  With a zest for life and confidence to boot, Monica served it up to me straight.  I loved the way she rocked her own business, embraced her femininity and infused her gregarious personality into work.  

Don’t get me wrong, the universe also served up some douchebags.  Ones who made me feel the size of a pea and even angry.  I learnt that these moments can be valuable fuel to add to the fire in your belly.  To be underestimated can be the most motivating factor of all. 

My biggest professional fear has always been that I was not technical enough to be a colourist.  I didn’t want my own studio and all the technical maintenance that came with it, but Heather Galvin (freelance online-editor and friend) had her own Flame and I found inspiration in her.  I bought my own high-end colour grading studio.  I learnt that we all have our strengths and weaknesses and just because I didn’t particularly want to talk about LUT’s and Codec’s and RAM and GPU’s didn’t mean that I was not good enough.  I could talk all day about story, emotion, colour, art, life and I realised that this was my strength.  So I embraced it.  I named it and now I’m not afraid of it anymore.  I have some awesome friends on speed-dial (the ones whose eyes light up at the mention of a tech gadget) and I’ll just be over here catching zzz’s while they do their thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I know what I need to know and can troubleshoot my kit, but just because I can’t explain the internal workings of my Sony Oled does not mean I don’t know exactly how an image will or will not break up when I play with it.  Everyone has their strength and their own uniqueness.  No one can do what you can do, and no one can do what I can do.

I’d become really deflated if I heard someone else got chosen for a job.  My mentors taught me that you can’t be all things to all people.  That other people’s success does not diminish your achievements.  Also, that there is plenty of work to go around! In order to generate more work I decided to learn about business, so I became a business book fiend.  Step in mentors Michael Gerber, Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson.  A whole new rake of podcasts became my teachers including Lady Start Ups and Being Boss.

So two years after throwing myself into this full time freelancing lark, and after all the things I have learnt, I have decided to start my own, big grown-up business.

On 1 July I am launching her.  Like all the best things in life, the thought of it gives me a visceral feeling.. it makes me equally ecstatic and like I want to throw up.  If it all goes pear-shaped, that’s ok too because my mentors have some really good quotes about failure (ha!). I’m going to take what I’ve learnt and go at it with gusto.  If other people can do it why can’t I?  Let’s do this people!!

Why should women in Film & TV get special treatment?

I think that every one knows someone who has asked this question, alluded to this question or maybe you have even wanted to ask it yourself.  That whole argument about giving women special treatment is reverse sexism and unfair for men.  Recently this question was asked (albiet anonymously) in a public forum in response to an advertisement about a weekend masterclass for female TVC directors. 

“Equality or Equity” said:  There are plenty of upcoming directors who could benefit from this. Why just women?  Sure there are not enough women directors. I don’t disagree. Get more in, by all means. But the way to do it is not to exclude males from learning opportunities. Don’t punish the next generation for the ignorance of the previous one.

 

I can see how one might think this. I just felt like it deserved a reply from someone who has worked in this male dominated field for the past 16 years, is speaking at said weekend masterclass and could answer the question direct from the horses mouth:  “Angela Cerasi” said:  Why just women?  This is why:  In uni, film and TV degrees are made up of 50% females and 50% males. In the industry, this becomes 15% females and 85% males (directors for example). I believe that it is essential that our screen creators (and politicians and CEO’s for that matter!) are diverse whether that be male, female, young, old, ethnic or LGBTIQ so that our ideas and interpretations are also diverse and represent the whole spectrum of society.  As a female we don’t want to be unique just for our gender and we don’t want to be just a tick in an equality box. We don’t want to be called a “female director” instead of a “director”. We want to be the norm and not mistaken for the make-up artist on set! We want to get the job based on merit. But first we need to get a place at the table.

 

So until the time comes that there are 50% females and 50% males in the bid, our whole film community should help raise up female filmmakers to level the playing field. Supporting these directors to get a place at the table does not punish the others. If you’re male, you’re probably already sitting at the table (and that’s just a fact), and pulling up more chairs should not feel threatening or unequal it should feel awesome that your industry has modernised and just awards the job to the best idea at that table.

 

At that point we can be done with all this boring gender disparity lark and we should all feel included.

 

And that was that.  Hopefully it helped clarify the question.  I guess if you’re not in the minority it might be hard to empathise and understand.  Here’s to rising up our women and giving them special treatment so that one day we don’t have to anymore!  If you’re an emerging or established female director and interested in attending the ‘Free the Bid TVC Masterclass’ at Fox Studios on 17/18 Nov 2018 email Jasmin@photoplay.co 

 

Would you like to know more?

 

Email Angela at angelacerasi@gmail.com

livingroom8125437

Free colour grading initiative for women – half year update!

Well what an awesome six months that was! Over 100 applications were received for my free colour grading initiative to support female directors and/or cinematographers. To converse with so many talented and passionate filmmakers everywhere from Melbourne to Perth to Arnhem Land has been a truly wonderful experience. I loved examining the applications with a glass of vino in the evenings!

 


I first had the idea for my initiative one day in February when I had a slow couple of weeks of work. It was around the time of the Oscars and the #metoo and #pressforprogress movements. I am a big advocate for the call to level the playing field in our industry so it got me thinking. There I was not busy, with some time on my hands and an itch to be grading and working with kickass emerging filmmakers. If I could spend my down days colour grading some projects to help women get their stuff made then I could be part of this inspiring global movement. Fast forward to March and I was all over our industry news platforms promoting this unconventional and slightly crazy idea I had. I was told that I would go broke and that I couldn’t/shouldn’t do stuff for free. Well I would just like to say that I have probably had the best six months of my 12 year colour grading career so far, and that giving away your time and expertise for something you are passionate about feels freaking amazing!

 


First up was “Theo and Celeste”, a 2min short film combining live action, stop-motion animation, painting and puppets. Hannah Doherty was the creator of this work… she wrote, directed, shot and even hand painted some of the animation. From her previous work I could see that she had a very hands on approach and it was pretty clear that this chick was uber talented in so many mediums! It was my pleasure to work with such a creative filmmaker and help bring her vision to life. “Theo and Celeste” screened at the TedX Sydney convention in July.

 


The next project I selected was Imogen Thomas’s debut feature film, “Emu Runner”. The story of this film is seen through the eyes of Gem, a spirited 8-year-old girl, who deals with the grief of her mother’s death by forging a bond with a wild emu, a mythical bird of her ancestors. Imogen’s journey to get this film made on a “micro budget” was both remarkable and inspiring. The screenplay was created in consultation with Indigenous members of the Brewarrina community, in north western NSW, over many years. Despite the challenges and hardships of getting a film like this off the ground, it was obvious that it had been the good will of so many people during the process which had moved it forward, especially the Brewarrina community. I felt like I could really elevate this film by providing a professional colour grade and by enhancing the story through the use of colour. The DOP Michael Gibbs flew up from Melbourne for the grade at ZigZag Post. I spent 7 days on it (plus some after hours fine tuning!) to get it to a place that felt really right for Imogen. Of course limited budget and resources meant that lighting and shooting conditions were sometimes not ideal so we worked on fixing these and making the film more cohesive. “Emu Runner” debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and will have it’s Aussie premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in October. I have my tickets and a babysitter booked – can’t wait to celebrate a job well done with everyone!

 


Jessica Barclay Lawton was the next successful applicant. Her 15 minute atmospheric and visually stunning short film “Living Room” was shot with a crew of four over the course of one week in Tokyo. Guerrilla and hybrid filmmaking at it’s finest! DOP Alex Cardy did a stellar job with natural light and one LED. Yes, one LED. I loved the opportunity to colour grade this film and work with this amazing director, out there creating even with limited resources! Every frame of this work could be a promo still, I love her aesthetic.

 


My 4th colour grading initiative project was a 5 x 7min web series for director/producer Laura Clelland called “Life of Jess”. Representing from Brisbane (total soft spot for my hometown), Laura was recently selected as one of Screen Producers Australia’s “One’s to Watch” and it was an absolute delight to meet her, Sandra and DOP Brendan Shambrook during our session.

 


“The Hitchhiker” was a proof of concept short for a feature film. It is the 5th project selected for my free grading initiative to support emerging female directors. The application won me on “an all-girl vampire road trip comedy (think Buffy meets Bridesmaids)”. Adele Vuko, Johanna Somerville and DOP Dan Freene all attended the grade. It would be awesome to see Adele succeed in directing her first feature film after a run of short film and web series success.

 


So I am taking a couple of months off and then will resume my initiative in November. Ladies, let’s do this (some more!)

Would you like to know more?

 

Email Angela at angelacerasi@gmail.com

Angela Cerasi_grading_2018

Let’s do this!

I have decided to do something a little bit crazy but really exciting to help the gender disparity issue in our industry. Free colour grading for female directors/cinematographers for 5 projects over the next 12 months. I have created a press release (ooo look at me go).. the details of which can be read here:

MEDIA RELEASE
20 March 2018

COLOURIST ANGELA CERASI TACKLES GENDER DISPARITY

Sydney colourist Angela Cerasi is tackling gender disparity in the film and television industry with an exciting new initiative designed to support Australian women film makers and creatives.

 

With the support of ZIGZAG Post, Angela is offering free colour-grading to five projects over the next 12 months. The projects must have a female director or female cinematographer attached, they can be long or short form for film, television or multimedia platforms, the proposed grading schedule must be flexible and the project must not have committed broadcaster funding. The initiative is targeted at working creatives and is not open to full-time students.

 

Angela says she was inspired to launch the initiative after navigating the choppy waters of parenthood and work and realising other women in the industry are in the same boat.

 

Angela Cerasi said, ‘As a working mother of two young children, I understand the challenges of re-establishing yourself after maternity leave and juggling the work life balance. I’m passionate about encouraging and mentoring women who are committed to chasing their dreams. I believe that by providing my specialist colour-grading services to female filmmakers, who may not have the resources to finance this aspect of production, I can make a difference and show my commitment to gender disparity.’

 

Rob Saroff, Co-Owner of ZIGZAG Post said, ‘When Angela approached me about her idea, I welcomed the chance to be involved. Already a major supporter of the For Film’s Sake Film Festival ‘Big Pineapple’ competition, this seemed like a great opportunity to further support women filmmakers. Angela is a hugely talented colourist and has elevated the production value across multiple projects tremendously. I commend Angela on her generosity and taking gender matters from a conversation to action.’

Terms and Conditions

 

  • The initiative was launched in March 2018. Five projects will be offered free colour-grading over the next 12 months.
  • Applicants are invited to submit a maximum one page synopsis and vision statement for their project, a short biography and proposed dates for colour-grading.
  • The initiative is open to Australian companies and individuals. However, the director or cinematographer must be female and must be able to attend the grading session(s).
  • Grading sessions will be held at Zig Zag Post in Crow’s Nest, Sydney.
  • Projects will be shortlisted based on the strength of the synopsis, the film maker’s vision and the proposed dates for grading.
  • Successful candidates will be notified by email. Angela Cerasi and the successful applicants will agree on dates for colour-grading.
  • Projects must not have a broadcaster attached or be subject to brand-funding.
  • Female creatives must be working in the industry and not currently enrolled full-time at an institution.

Would you like to know more?

 

Email Angela at angelacerasi@gmail.com