By Catherine Woo
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.
Describe yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!
I’m a creative producer working in branded content at Bloomberg Media Studios. To summarize, I studied film and TV production at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, worked for many years in scripted and docu television postproduction (all while directing my own independent film projects on the side), found my way into advertising, and here I am.
I get a hand in every aspect of production, from pitching to creative brainstorming, finding freelancers and production vendors to execute ideas, directing shoots, and leading edit / recording / mix / and color sessions.
The idea of creating something that may have never existed before, out of nothing, is one of the most gratifying feelings, and I’m grateful to have made a career out of it. And the best part is, if you’re lucky, what you make will have a powerful message and you’ll find a group of collaborators who just “click.” That’s when the magic happens.
What brings you to NYWIFT?
My career has taken several twists and turns, and I’ve met some amazing collaborators and mentors along the way. Though I learn so much every day in my current role, I believe it’s important to continue to expand your network and never stop learning so you can be the best creative leader you can be. I’d also love to learn more about feature film screenwriting, financing, and development.
You’ve been passionate about filmmaking since age 12. Which stories first inspired you to begin making your own films?
My childhood favorites were The Lion King and A Little Princess. I was in awe when a movie would take you from laughing to being moved to tears, leaving you dumbfounded, thinking, “What just happened? How did I get like this?”
Around 12, I started creating my own little videos and discovered that I held the same power to move an audience purely through my imagination. It became a drug I couldn’t let go of and I basically never stopped.
In my early teens I discovered more cerebral and philosophical films—ones that fragmented the traditional storytelling arc, distorted reality, and created a sensory experience – films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Tree of Life, Requiem for a Dream, Children of Men, and Pan’s Labyrinth. That was when I saw filmmaking not just as a way to tell stories and entertain, but as an art form where what an audience takes away from it can be deeper than what meets the eye.
As a storyteller, you encourage viewers to think deeper, consider unheard perspectives, and bring others closer together. What kinds of stories are exciting to you?
I think it’s fascinating when a film is able to take something unapproachable and complex and make it entertaining and relatable. As someone who is very interested in psychology, I love the idea of bringing two opposites in a room and forcing them to find ways to connect (think those Jubilee “Middle Ground” YouTube videos). That’s when positive change happens — when we are able to question our current belief systems; when you can strip away someone’s superficial qualities and discover what makes them human. In a world that can often feel very polarized, this is such a powerful tool.
You’ve worked on SNL, The Blacklist, The Sinner, Vice, and done branded content for huge companies like Wells Fargo and Amazon. What was your favorite moment working on any of your projects? And the biggest challenge?
I have a few favorite moments!
As an intern on Saturday Night Live, I’ll never forget getting to sit in the control room, listening in on the writers spitball script changes on the fly during the rehearsal before the Saturday show. It required not only a talent for creative improvisation but an incredible amount of mental strength and agility to handle the enormous pressure that the job required. I’m also grateful to have received one-on-one mentorship with the 10x Emmy-winning (and incredibly kind) director of SNL, Don Roy King.
I learned so much during my time working under Brad Carpenter, the incredible post producer on The Sinner, Fosse/Verdon, and other network shows. He seamlessly managed massive teams (including showrunners, directors, and editors) with an admirable balance of warmth, enthusiasm, and level-headedness. To this day, I aspire to match his energy and professionalism as I move throughout my career.
Last year I produced and directed a branded piece for General Motors through Bloomberg. We went on an EV road trip with musician AY Young, spreading the message of sustainability from small towns all the way to the United Nations. This was a perfect example of that “great collaborators” “great message” thing I was talking about and I’m very proud of the piece we created.
As for challenges – I think any time you approach something you’ve never done before is a challenge, which coincidentally happens a lot with producing since there are always new people to work with and different obstacles to overcome. It can be equally scary and exhilarating, but the more you experience, the bigger your mental library becomes. It’s what I strive for.
Your LGBTQ ballet film “I Am Enough” was adapted for the stage and performed at Lincoln Center by American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet dancers for Dance Against Cancer. Can you tell us about the experience of combining the art form of ballet with filmmaking?
Ballet was one of my first passions and dance is still one of my favorite mediums of self expression. Once I finished my thesis film at NYU and entered the “real world,” I knew this was the next film I had to make. I really wanted to create a positive change on the artform which was very stuck in the past and knew I needed to involve dancers at the top of the industry in order for the project to get any real exposure.
Because I quit ballet when I was a teenager, I didn’t know anyone in the NYC professional ballet space.
During a break between post coordinator gigs, I found a way to make it happen through many sleepless nights of cold emailing, Instagram DMs, and a crowdfunding campaign where I raised around $10,000. It is incredibly humbling to know that the film ultimately had an impact on the representation that we now see on ballet stages.
The Transgressor, your short film, follows a child spy living in a dystopian society where music is illegal. It explores so many important themes about conformity, repression, and identity. What do you hope that audiences take away from this film?
The Transgressor was purposefully set in a hypothetical world so that the universal themes of social conformity and repression of individuality could apply to so many different cultures and societies. I hope it reminds audiences to think critically before following the status quo, and embrace their unique perspectives.
What’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?
I always have projects in the works at Bloomberg – we recently released videos for AT&T that use Unreal Engine backgrounds and it’s been really exciting to explore the capabilities of the technology. I’m also working on an ongoing series with Wells Fargo that explores the positive impact that businesses have on communities and the planet.
As far as independently, I’m working on a feature screenplay which I began developing at the Chateau Orquevaux artist residency in France back in March. I’m hoping to complete the script by the end of this year (and if anyone wants to volunteer to read it and give me your brutal feedback, please help a girl out – I will buy you dinner!).
Welcome to NYWIFT, Amy Tiong! Amy is a director, writer, and production coordinator whose stories bring underrepresented voices to the forefront. She directs both narrative films and documentaries, which received recognition from Bustle, NBCNews, PictureStart, Coverfly, and the NAACP. The vulnerability in her work empowers others and shines a light on topics such as disordered eating, grief, and sibling love. Amy tells us about working on a microbudget project during pandemic times, collaborating with friends and her new horror immigration feature film, When You’re Ready to Go. Read all about it here!READ MORE
Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to new member Katja Haecker! As an experienced and award-winning creative for the advertising world, Katja Haecker had her calling in 2015. Since then, she writes and directs not only commercials within the luxury world but also personal film projects, like "Endless Orange Me," a car/fashion short, or "Laps of Honor," a documentary about the protagonist’s passion for fast cars. A German native, she moved to the U.S. in 2007 and, since then, has worked between continents or wherever her passion for filmmaking takes her. Driven, experienced, focused, and open to all kinds of topics, from racing cars to daily life, she always has thrillers and suspenseful plots in mind, with an artistically trained eye. Katja spoke to us about her most daring commercial projects and how her lifelong love of fast cars shows up in her professional work.READ MORE
Please join us in welcoming Toni Short to NYWIFT! Toni Short is an Aussie on a mission to tell the textured stories of women from around the world and heal the world through the arts. Following a personal breakthrough, Toni paved her own path towards artistic creation and invites others to walk beside her. This led her to found The Camp, an immersive space for children to learn about creative self-expression. Her project Sister Spirit Stories is a platform to highlight the stories of inspiring women. We Go High Productions produces both Sister Spirit Stories and Toni’s short film Meeting Mr. Oscar, which she wrote, produced, directed, and acted in. Toni told us about her personal healing journey, her most meaningful projects so far, and what’s coming up on the horizon.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Hyonok Kim! Hyonok is an award-winning filmmaker and choreographer who creates innovative and experimental film. Hyonok was born in South Korea, then studied film and dance in Paris and New York. Rather than dialogue, her films use dance to express interactions, bringing the emotional experience to the viewer. She choreographed and directed 15 dance films including Weeping Water, For Sunrise, Dance with Horses, Ode on a Korean Urn, Isle of Waiting Souls, Passion & Rebirth, South Sea to Isang Yun and L’Heure de Coq. Her films were shown at international film festivals and broadcasted in France, Germany, Australia, China, Korea, the Netherlands, and the USA. Now, she lives and works in the Bronx. Hyonok shares her inspirations in nature, as a choreographer and as a storyteller here!READ MORE