By Katie Chambers
As summer winds down, New York Women in Film & Television gears up for the start of our new year – and with it, new faces join our leadership team!
A 501(c)3 non-profit, NYWIFT is governed by an 18 member Board of Directors, elected by the membership in late Spring. This diverse, accomplished group of women are at the top of their game in TV, film and digital media. They steer NYWIFT in advocating for equality, providing unique professional development opportunities, funding women filmmakers, and celebrating women’s achievements.
Meet Gretchen McGowan, an award-winning producer and Head of Production at Goldcrest Films.
How did you first get involved with NYWIFT?
My colleague and former NYWIFT President Alexis Alexanian encouraged me to join. I’d been a member years ago, but allowed my membership to lapse. I quickly realized that rejoining was a great way to connect with old colleagues and forge extraordinary bonds with new ones.
Why do you love NYWIFT?
I’m thrilled by the diverse programs and constituency of NYWIFT. It’s a true representation of the women I work with on a day-to-day basis in the film industry: busy women who make big contributions at work. Yet, they find the time and energy to exercise another muscle and give more through NYWIFT. NYWIFT has a clear mission and big ambitions and I want to be a part of it.
Tell us about what you do outside of NYWIFT.
I have a background as an independent freelance line producer and producer, having worked on films like Buffalo ’66, American Psycho and The Limits of Control. I’m now head of production with Goldcrest Films in the West Village, where I oversee the documentaries and narrative features that we finance and distribute. We produce a slate of our own docs and right now we’re completing a Nat Geo feature doc about Mexico. I also have a hand in the post end of the business as we’ve a beautiful, full picture and audio post facility that has grown exponentially in the past few years. I usher projects from the early stages and make sure they’re taken care of through delivery. I had my first break in post-production as an editor, and, for me, post is where the film percolates.
[Below is the trailer for one of Goldcrest’s latest feature docs with Nat Geo about Isis and Syria]
What is your fondest memory of working in the entertainment industry?
My fondest memories are my most tested times in my early 30’s: working on film productions in distant locations and over my head. That’s how I learned how to communicate and maintain calm under pressure. I worked in Jordan, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Spain, Canada and all over the United States. I’ve met with heads of state who helped us out of show-stopping binds and I’ve had the pleasure of working with generous and hardworking crews the world over.
Inequality in film, television and digital media has been a hot topic in the media over the last few years especially, and righting that imbalance has always been a big part of NYWIFT’s mission. What are your thoughts on the problem? And how should it be solved?
I’ve an unusual take on this problem. Having lost my father to cancer at a young age, I grew up in a family of five women. Strong, but with my own case of arrested development, I felt that things were accomplished without men where they hung out in the periphery. Although I adored men, it wasn’t until I collaborated with them in theater, sports and later film, that I realized how men could create a balance, and most things could be better achieved when this balance was met. I wonder if many men are now awakening to this notion: that we’re all best tackling this together and on an equal playing field. And when we finally emerge from this eye-opening, important wave of victims and violators, the new movement that prevails will be inclusive, not exclusive.
What’s the best TV show/movie/web series you’ve seen recently? Why?
I am blown away by Fleabag and Russian Doll. And for similar reasons: both protagonists are subversive, unapologetic, deeply flawed and, thank god, back for another season. Back in the day we had career-women on TV like Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda who exhibited some of this restlessness, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Natasha Lyonne’s characters are a force. They’re not afraid to love, even though they might get knocked down.
What are your plans for the summer?
We go to the wooden boat show in Mystic, Connecticut every summer. My husband’s a key grip so it’s a group of like-minded enthusiasts and I love any sort of subculture nerd gathering. In August we’ll have my family reunion in western Massachusetts. Around the dinner table it’s a flurry of politics and strong opinions. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise but I’m getting better at it.
Learn more about Goldcrest at www.goldcrestpostny.com.
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