Film and television experts speak at PSWIFT brunch

Photo courtesy of Palm Springs Women in Film and Television (PSWIFT) (left to right) Stefan Colson, Danielle Bisutti, Megan Fenton, Sheri Davani, Ashley Fenton Kristopher Polaha and Brittany Cormack.

BY GAIL PISCHAK

STUDENT CONTRIBUTOR

The Palm Springs Women in Film and Television hosted a Filmmakers Brunch at the Acqua California Bistro on Sept. 28, 2019. Those attending were delighted with the seven industry experts from Los Angeles who shared their experiences relating to the brunches theme, “Film as a team and the flow of the show.”

What made the conversation so rich and informative was that the panelists represented all aspects of filmmaking from both sides of the camera. They included production and set designers, a costumer, directors and actor/producers.

Each industry expert talked about their unique journey and how they got started in the film business. They also helped the audience to appreciate how production sequencing and collaborative teamwork have a direct impact on the quality of the filming that goes on in front of the camera.

Filmmaking is complicated because it requires mastery from both the creative storytelling side and the business logistic side. Management skills are required for virtually every job in Hollywood, but very few people have direct training in management and leadership skills. There was unanimous agreement that to be successful on the creative storytelling side, a film’s foundation is grounded on the business side and excellent management skills. 

The best example of collaborative teamwork came from the costumer, Brittany Ann Cormack. She has been involved in the business for over 25 years and has dressed many celebrities for films including James Caan, Mira Sorvino, Vivica A. Fox, Chad Lowe, Donna Mills and many, many more. 

She talked about how she initially meets with the director to understand their vision for the movie and how costumes will be developed based on the script, the film’s color palette and the budget. She then goes out and talks to set designers, lighting artists, hair and make-up artists, producers and of course, the actors.

Once she has an understanding of what everyone wants, she draws up the costume boards for review and approval. It’s a complicated process usually achieved under tight deadlines.

Brittany’s favorite part in the process is the first time she dresses an actor to become their character. “I love putting on the pieces of their costume for the first time. It’s like watching the character being born right in front of you.”

One of the panelists summarized the essence of collaborative teamwork as seeing people who do their work with each other in the best possible way to achieve filming success. That means no ego, leaving differences off the set and sorting them out offline, being proactive and creative when solving the myriad of challenges that arise every day and being willing to jump in and help whoever, whenever.

The best advice that panelists offered was if you are interested in making films, pull together your production team early on in your budding career. Nurture them and help them develop professionally. Stay together, grow together. Make films together. Often the best films come from long-standing collaborations within the production team.

Women in Film is a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to helping women and men achieve their highest potential within the film and television industry. Student filmmakers are encouraged to join. It’s a great way to begin developing professional networks and the annual membership fee is only $25.

The next big event for Women in Film is the Broken Glass Awards on Nov. 4 at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage.

PSWIFT will be awarding the first Denise DuBarry Hay Scholarship. The event sells out quickly. Tickets may be purchased online at pswift.org

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