What’s a defining moment in your life that brought you to film? ~When I was fourteen, I was in an art class at school. I’d never been much of a drawer, and certainly never thought of myself as an artist, but I had a very brilliant teacher named Mrs. Youngren who had come up with a simple question that we were to think about for the entirety of the semester: “What is art?” Everyone in the class was then told we would be required to present a project showcasing what art meant to us. At that point, I’d never thought of art to inhabit any medium besides drawing and painting, but I really started to try and wrap my mind around the endless possibilities of everything art really could be, and by the eventually, I found my answer. I worked for weeks on creating a video concept; I wanted to capture all the different meanings art had to those around me, while simultaneously displaying what it was to me. I had always made silly little videos with my friends when I was younger, but this was the first time that I created and executed a concept that from start to finish, was all me. I’ll never forget the feeling of playing my video for the class and truly being proud of something that simply started in my head. From that point on I started seeing myself as an artist, and as an artist I wanted my words and my ideas to have some level of impact, and I wanted to keep working hard in order to use that impact for good. Since then I’ve completed numerous personal projects, and now as a film student I’ve really found joy in being able to create alongside other artists who share my same passion, and getting to create an impact together.
What are your concerns about the future/what is the next obstacle you're looking at overcoming? ~As a current film student, I consistently worry about what my future in this industry will entail upon graduation; I second guess my own decisions and capabilities and wonder if I’m good enough to have the kind of success I hope to have. So as of now I would say an obstacle I’m looking to overcome would just be my own mind and trying to tell myself that it certainly won’t be easy, but with persistence, genuine hard work and commitment to my craft, it is possible. At the end of the day my love for what I do and the reward of being able to put all my effort into something and have it turn into something I deem important, is far more valuable to me and far outweighs any of the challenges I have faced and will be faced with.
What was the most successful moment of your career so far? I’m definitely still in the very beginning stages of carving out my path for my career, but I try my best to celebrate everything I accomplish along the way, even the tiniest of victories. Whether it’s finally completing a few pages of a script or putting myself and my abilities out there even if the result is ultimately rejection, I make sure to take a moment and give myself some credit. In the end, even the failures turn into successes in my mind, and that’s because of the priceless gift of the experiences gained and the lessons learned. So, I would say every moment in my career thus far in some way or another is a success, but if I had to pick one singular moment, I would say the moment my script got picked to be made into a SAIT Film and Video second year short film. At the end of my first year at SAIT, all students were given the option to pitch a script to the faculty in hopes of it getting produced in second year. I pitched an idea for a ten-minute film that I’ve had for quite some time; there would only be one script chosen in that category, and my script was picked. I have been working on this script for a very long time and I have very deep, personal ties to it, so for it to be picked is an unbelievable accomplishment in my eyes and I cannot wait to see where it goes when production begins this fall.
What advice do you have for other women in the industry? If I could give some advice to women in the film industry, I would say do not be afraid to speak up. I find so often on sets when you’re surrounded by all these experienced men, it can feel very intimidating. I find myself becoming reluctant to share my thoughts and opinions as I worry they may not be valid in the circumstances. But most of the time, people want you to speak up and though they may not always execute your ideas, they will still appreciate the fact that you were brave enough to voice them. Once you’re able to do that, I think you really need to be able to assert yourself and carry your own while on the job; do your work the best way you know how, be open to making mistakes and learning from those around you, and be someone that is respected not because you’re a woman, but because you are a filmmaker, and you are the best one for the job. At the end of the day, we’re all just people working together to create something, and our genders should not need to play a significant role in that process. Regardless of who you are or where you come from or what you look like, we should all be given equal opportunities in order to achieve exactly what we want, and it never ceases to put a smile on my face when I see the badass woman of this industry doing exactly what they want to be doing.
What are you working on next? My foreseeable future in this industry primarily consists of continuing to evolve my upcoming short film, which will be premiering at the 2020 SAIT Film and Video Production screening. It hasn’t yet been decided who will be directing my script, but it is a huge goal of mine to be able to direct it, or at least have some level of creative influence and oversight. That being said, I will be spending a great majority of this summer doing as much research as I can as this story deals heavily with the topic of emotional abuse and trauma. I want to speak with experts, councilors and fellow men and woman who have gone through this kind of experience. I want to make it as real as possible and make sure that it’s not just my story, but our story. I will be writing several more drafts of my script and putting together a real solid directors plan and vision so that as soon as I return to school in the fall, I know exactly what I want. Of course, even if I don’t get chosen to direct the script, I’m just beyond thrilled that it got picked to be made at all, and I’m open to watching the story come to life in whatever way it needs to. I do also have numerous other scripts I will be working on this summer, including a feature! And in between all that I’m always looking for opportunities to get out there and shoot with anyone willing to come along for the ride!
What are your hopes for the future? I have a long list of hopes for my future; I’m always working on ways to expand my skillsets and really push myself to achieve what I want to achieve. As of now I would consider myself primarily a photographer, writer and videographer/video editor. Though I never see myself letting go of any of those passions, I do see myself continuing to grow and never limiting myself to what I can do. I love so many aspects of pre-production, production and post-production and plan to become more well-versed in all those areas. I hope to get more involved in assistant directing as that’s been a big interest for me, as well as hopefully someday really taking on the full director role. But of course, I look forward to continuing to learn, taking new risks and going wherever it is this career may take me. I know I still have a long way to go, but I’m more excited than ever for the journey to unfold.
Why do you volunteer for Herland? I got involved with Herland initially because one of my instructors at SAIT let myself and various other very talented women in my program know that Ximena Rios, a former SAIT student, was looking for women to fill her Herland crew. I was so excited to be a part of such an amazing organization; Herland is all about giving female filmmakers more of a voice, and allowing them to tell stories the way they want to. I continue to be as involved in Herland as I can because I really do believe in what they do and I think it’s so important to show that Calgary does have a growing film industry, and that the women of Calgary are an important asset to that industry. I love seeing more and more women get involved and show that they are ready, passionate and capable of putting in the work, and then some.
What was it like being on a Herland set? Being on a Herland set was very inspirational for me; it’s always beautiful seeing how all these different departments and aspects come together in such a powerful way, and it’s even better when you get to see the amount of support being displayed within those departments. I found that the men and women on the set of Ximena Rios’ short film Faded were extremely patient and understanding with one another and always offered assistance without needing to be asked. Everyone did their job and with such poise and professionalism, and it was really beautiful to witness and capture. I hope to continue to be involved with Herland and ensure that the women of this industry know they are heard.
Originally from Edmonton, Stephanie has been active in the entertainment industry for most of her life. Stephanie graduated from Grant MacEwan College with a diploma in Theatre Production in 2005. After working in Edmonton's theatre scene for a few years, Stephanie moved to Red Deer where she attended Red Deer College and earned an Applied Bachelor Degree in Motion Picture Arts. In 2012 Stephanie accepted a Grip Trainee position on Heartland, and has been actively working in the Grip department since. She became a member of IATSE Local 212 in November 2013 and officially moved to Calgary. Stephanie has been fortunate to grip on numerous films and TV series including Hell On Wheels, Young Drunk Punk, Cut Bank, War for the Planet of the Apes, Alpha, One Hit Die, Tin Star, Fargo, Damnation and most recently, Wynonna Earp. While she's found success in film, Stephanie remains active in theatre and works regularly as a stagehand in both lighting and carpentry at many venues in Calgary, including Theatre Calgary, Alberta Theatre Projects, Theatre Junction and The Jack Singer Concert Hall. Stephanie enjoys being involved with Local 212 and the Young Workers Committee.