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Women in Film Education (WIFE)

Participatory Photography at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema

Women in Film Education (WIFE)

Participatory Photography at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema


Photo stories by:


Photo by Philippe Barsalou

A moment of withdrawal

I was DOP for this production, which took place in my father’s office. As a result, my father switched his shifts and worked while we were filming at night. I was with him when he took this photo. We were feeling comfortable and watching the chaos from a distance. It is normal to feel overwhelmed on set. To cope with it, I take little breaks from the set and spend time with myself [or my family]. As a leader of a group, I need time for myself, find my confidence and space. It helps to work with people who want to influence you and tell you what to do. This is my vision of an escape route on the set.

Fitting in

She was the only actor who did not know anyone before joining this set. I was worried she wouldn’t fit in the tight circle. In the end, she succeeded. This photo resonates with how I feel about being part of a crew, or being accepted by others. It is difficult if you are a girl, working on a set where a lot of guys are around. On a new set, we learn how to be comfortable, how to take space, and how to let our personality out. Out of film school, I will probably end up working on a set where I don’t know anybody. I will probably feel reserved and shy even if I have a head position.  

My apartment before shooting

Before my classmate’s shoot, we put all the equipment and props in my apartment. My roommate and I had to live with this messy situation. At that moment, I realized that I had taken on too many responsibilities. Filmmaking can invade various aspects of my personal life. My bookshelf (used on the set) was broken in the end. When making a film, you should be aware if you take the responsibility, it is real. Something might happen.  

Testing camera

This is where we pick up the equipment at school. L. and G. were building the camera. I remember the feeling of comfort and being proud of ourselves. Previously, my usual response to a girl holding a camera was associated with anxiety. This moment made me realize that we (women) can do technical work.

Study buddies

We were working on different projects in this café two weeks before the first shoot. A. was filling out a funding application. C. was planning a shower schedule for A.’s set. L. was filling out contracts for his actors. I was working on a lighting plan for A.’s set. We were all working very late. In film school, you are always with the same people all the time. You are always working together. This café is nice and warm. We also like to work in a very cool recording room in the EV building. And this art stand [in the picture], which we carried around for so long, was used on L.’s set. In the final cut, you can’t even see it. But it’s ok, it’s fine. In cinema, it happens: killing your baby.   

Photo by Louis Parent

Waiting on set

Waiting is a big part of being on set. You have to be patient. Even though it can be annoying to wait, you still have to maintain a good attitude. It wasn’t always easy.

Photo by Louis Parent

Work against the light

I’m very proud of this shot in particular as the DOP on set. It was the last shot that we filmed. At that precise moment, everyone was stressed because the sun was going down, and we needed to get the shot done before that night. So when we completed the shooting, everyone was ecstatic. Those moments are definitely the highlights of filmmaking.

Photo by Louis Parent

Women’s camera crew

L. was the camera operator. She did a great job. But the shoulder rig was made for big men who have bulky shoulders and was not designed for women. It was too big for her.

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