Whether you’re cast in a project that shoots abroad or you’re a producer on a quest for locations and tax credits, we’re all finding ourselves traversing the globe more than ever. Getting to know (and joining) our sister Women in Film & Television organizations around the country and the world can be a resource of unending value. From the quickest route to crewing-up with talented women to taking advantage of great events and programing, WIFTs around the world expand our networks and our horizons.
By Mellini Kantayya
This past summer, I was warmly welcomed by Women in Film and Television – Toronto (WIFT-T). Established in 1984, WIFT-T is the oldest Women in Film and Television chapter in Canada and also boasts of the largest Canadian membership and staff. They represent women in all areas of screen-based media at every stage of their careers.
Though we share the same mission, every organization is unique. If there were two words to capture the spirit of WIFT-T, they would be “cultivation” and “mentorship.” WIFT-T operates under a “cohort” system, with programming specifically tailored to those in their early careers (less than five years), mid careers (five to ten years), and at the executive level (over ten years). This facilitates, as Executive Director Heather Webb said, “women learning, sharing, and mentoring throughout their careers [while] offering each member unique opportunities to tap into a diverse and supportive network in the industry,” whether their goal is breaking into the business or securing that corner office.
Left to right: Christina Anderson (Program & Special Events Coordinator), Heather Webb (Executive Director), Kadon Douglas (Communications & Engagement Manager)
One exciting manifestation of this is WIFT-T’s recent launch of a six-month formal mentorship program. Members at the early-career or mid-career level apply to be coached by an executive level member who has chosen to participate. Both mentors and mentees attend workshops to ascertain goals and expectations. Mentees emerge with a plan with quantitative, tangible outcomes and support along the way.
WIFT-T August “Walk and Talk” at Trinity Bellwood Park in Toronto
Before leaving Toronto, I also had the pleasure of participating in another program that embodies their spirit of cultivation and mentorship by joining one of their “walks and talks.” Inspired by serial media entrepreneur Geraldine Laborne’s “Global Mentoring Walks,” members meet monthly at one of Toronto’s beautiful city parks to, well, walk and talk—giving members the opportunity to chat and network in a casual environment with leading women in the industry.
You can learn more about (and join!) Women in Film and Television Toronto at http://www.wift.com
Welcome to NYWIFT, Eileen Wolter! After working as a motion picture lit assistant at CAA, working on the Universal lot, and writing lots of coverage in LA, Eileen brings her creativity to us in New York! She holds a BA in Art History & Film from Vassar College, studied acting as The Atlantic Theater Company and The Actors Studio/The New School, and studied writing at UCLA, NYU, Sundance Collab, Stowe Story Labs, and NJ Play Lab. Eileen tells us about her fascinating family history, covering Fashion Week for Comedy Central in 1993, and attending SNL dress rehearsals.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Jaya Mahajan! Originally from Mumbai, India, Jaya is a filmmaker with Executive Producer credits for documentaries and factual shows that have been on networks such as CNN, BBC, Discovery and the National Geographic Channel. She spent the initial part of her career as a business reporter and producer with CNBC and Bloomberg. More recently, she has been running an award-winning production company, creating films and documentaries and teaching journalism students in Malaysia and Singapore. Jaya recently moved to New York and is looking forward to focusing on projects that highlight and amplify traditionally underrepresented, diverse, and marginalized voices.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Victoria Duncan! At age 12, Victoria began making films, struck by her power to engage an audience using her imagination. This led her down an exciting path to SNL, The Blacklist, The Sinner, Vice, and branded content for huge companies like Wells Fargo and Amazon, just to name a few. Her LGBT+ ballet film I Am Enough was adapted for the stage and performed at New York City’s iconic Lincoln Center. She is currently working on the screenplay for a feature film. Victoria walks us through her incredible journey, from her childhood favorite movies to presenting a piece to the United Nations.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Jillian Fisher! Jillian began her career as an intern with the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Three film festivals, various day jobs and a very particular set of skills later, Jillian created a public relations company. When a few movies came knocking on the door of one of her clients (the City of Kingston, New York), Jillian answered. After assisting the productions with locations and negotiations, she turned her attention to scouting locations full time. Over a decade later, Jillian still loves the creative aspects of scouting, but is now also pursuing producing her own projects.READ MORE