Dames du DOC

10 Tips for Young Women Directors

During a conference–debate at Concordia University, three women directors - Isabelle Hayeur, Helene Klodawsky and Vanya Rose – offered students these tips.


Direct a film while still in university. When students in your production class are chosen to direct a film, don’t wait for someone else to put up their hand and say: “I want to be the director!” Do it yourself immediately. Don’t defer your film so you can help make your boyfriend’s or best friend’s film instead. Ask your production professor to establish equity rules in the class so that as many girls as boys direct a film. Never forget that this film will be your calling card when it comes time to enter the workforce.


Prioritize your own work. When in a couple, don’t sacrifice your dream (making a film) to help your partner’s dream come true, whether they want to make music, start a business or become a director, like you. This phenomenon has been observed far too often. Many women first help their partners with a project while promising themselves to make their own film as soon as the project is done. But, because they are often very good at organizing other people’s projects, they become professional production coordinators and go on to become producers. Many potential women directors end up in production offices because they’ve put their own dream on hold to help their partner first.


Develop several projects at once. Don’t spend years fine-tuning a script or project. Develop several projects at once and shoot as many films as possible – even if you have no budget and have to use an amateur video camera. The more you film, the more confidence you’ll gain. Make a feature-length film as quickly as possible. It only takes a bit more organization and work than a medium-length film. With a first feature under your belt, you’ll stand out from the mass of young directors.


Choose your close collaborators well. Don’t let your producer, or anyone else, impose a cinematographer or artistic director. Choose them carefully. Take a small contract or make a short film with them to test your ability to work together before embarking on a more ambitious project.


Pay your crew.. Even for a first film, consider hiring and paying professionals. This will allow you to choose competent individuals rather than well-intentioned friends who will be frustrated by not being able to participate more fully in the creative process (your job).


Concentrate on the film.. Concentrate on the film. During a shoot, everyone will treat you like a queen. Many men will give you the impression that you are very special indeed. Stay focused. There will be time for socializing, sex and love at the wrap party.


If possible, plan your pregnancies. Plan to have your kids between two films or two projects. And above all, carefully choose a partner who adores taking care of children. He or she must also understand and accept your demanding work schedule. Remember that this job is ideal for raising children, as there can often be 5 years between film shoots.


Be creative in managing your family.. Create practical support networks among freelancers. Demand that your producer include an on-site daycare in the budget; you and your crew can have lunch with your kids. As director, you are entitled to participate in the creation of the budget and establish your professional and family needs. You can also choose when your workday will begin and end.


Be determined and persistent. Don’t let negative reviews discourage you. On the contrary, learn from your mistakes. The second film will be easier with the experience you’ve gained.


Don’t expect to get rich.. Do this job because you’re an artist, because you’re passionate and rebellious, because you have something to say to society and film is your way of expressing it. Your living conditions will probably be quite modest, but extremely stimulating. If your films are a critical success, you may travel to international film festivals. But above all, you will be practicing one of the most wonderful and exciting professions in the world.

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