Tips on how to succeed in the sometimes male-dominated creative, technical and leadership positions in the media, entertainment and tech industry.
Maryann Brandon editor
- Keep focussed
- Know your strengths
- Have a work-life balance
Brandon is a film editor for blockbuster action features and TV including Mission Impossible III and Passengers, and the long-running Alias TV series.
She is a prime target for requests for help and guidance for the next wave of editors and attributes her own success to a lot of determination, focus and a touch of serendipity.
“I [tell them] to get to know who you can, get to know what you think your strengths are and what you want to be. I try and help out where I can.
Juggling parenthood and a profession is something Brandon said she had to be “very selfish about,” and even took her children to the cutting room. “My focus was that I was doing this for my family, and I wanted to be there for them.”
“Know what you think your strengths are and what you want to be” - Maryann Brandon
Brandon is keenly aware she has been lucky in terms of a work-life balance, but like the other aspects of her career, she’s worked very hard to achieve it.
“A lot of it is just about focussing on what is important to you and keeping your eye on that. For me, because I was so focussed my kids, these other things just happened,” she says. “I can’t tell you how important it is that the job doesn’t become the thing of your life.”
Claire Hungate chief executive Brave Bison
- Don’t self-sabotage
- Follow strong female role models
”Women need to have the confidence” - Claire Hungate
“Have mentors and do not be scared to network,” Hungate explained, adding that often women are scared of networking and feel bad to take time from others with the common misconception, “people will only network if they get something out of it,” she explained this is untrue and you need ambition to get yourself in front of the right people.
“Women often self-sabotage because this is an industry built on networking and who you know,” she added, “Women need to have the confidence to reach out and gain first-hand experience.”
Hungate pointed to Generation Z as the “most entrepreneurial generation yet” who often don’t see age or technology as a restriction and urged the younger generation to not “restrict yourself.”
Hungate has had a successful career starting out as a Barrister before she joined the BBC’s legal team, she said: “Women have got to kick against stereotypes,” and breaking up the “boys club network,” is important for organisational success.
Carolina Costa DoP
- Seek a mentor
- Keep pushing and get your foot in the door
- Trust your instincts and the tools
Brazilian cinematographer Carolina Costa has travelled the world photographing feature films, documentaries, shorts and commercials and was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2018.
Costa knew from a young age she wanted to be a cinematographer.
“Keep pushing and hopefully someone will give you a break” - Caroline Costa
She said: “I’ve been told so many times that I would never make it as a cinematographer but you have to keep pushing and hopefully someone will give you a break.”
Costa was mentored by the late Sue Gibson, the renowned first female member of the British Society of Cinematographers and the BSC’s first female president.
At a dead end after a succession of low budget music videos, shorts and documentaries during which Costa had herself progressed from clapper loading to DoP, she applied to the American Film Institute, moved to LA and completed a Masters in Cinematography.
“I learned a tremendous amount, technically. It also made me trust my instincts, and that is the tool I use the most,” she added, “I’m in a fortunate position now where can choose my projects.”
Melissa Payne vice president, head of technology operations IMG Media
- Be confident and ask questions
- Champion your peers and yourself
- Have a wide knowledge of both tech and production
Payne is responsible for IMG’s global technical spend and income and approves all rights deals relating to technical delivery across all of IMG’s platforms and properties.
She describes herself as a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ – but as a ‘control freak’ who wants to know how all parts of the jigsaw puzzle fit together.
“Sports broadcasting is a great space to work in, but it is a boy’s space” - Melissa Payne
She is active in trying to encourage more women to work in the broadcast technology space organising networking events focussed on media and technology.
“Sports broadcasting is a great space to work in, but it is a boy’s space.” Payne said the gender imbalance can be reflected at trade shows, which she said can feel “like a stag do.”
She also suggests that the male domination of the tech space can make it hard for women to progress.
“Perhaps it is confidence. Sometimes women are afraid to speak up when they are in a meeting room full of men – worried they will say something silly. But there is no such thing as a silly question. I am always the first to ask questions – and then get laughed at. But at least I then know the answer.”