• Interview with Berklee Alumnus Perrine Virgile-Piekarski

       Hello initiators! I hope your 2016 is off to a wonderful start! This month, WFI had the wonderful honor of interviewing recent graduate and WFI member, Perrine Virgile-Pierkarski. Perrine graduated Berklee College of Music in 2014 with a dual major in Music Business and Film Scoring, and a  minor in Video Game Scoring. We asked Perrine about her LA experience, what it's like working as an assistant, and any tips for those who are making the move to LA this summer. 

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got to this point in your career?

    P: My mom put me at the piano at 5. She wanted to give me the opportunity to play an instrument. I quickly loved it, and then signed on to the classical Conservatoire in France.  I did this for 10 years, where I studied theory, piano, and some singing classes. And I did a few opera backgrounds as well. Then, I watched Donnie Darko at 13. When Mad World came on, I realized I wanted to make music for movies. Which is funny because it wasn’t even part of the original score. A piano teacher told me about the Berklee Film Scoring program, and it became my goal to go there since there was no other program like it in France. After high school, I wanted to go to Berklee right away, but ended up doing a sound engineering degree at Esra in Nice, France. Then at 20, I applied to Berklee and got in. I dual majored in Film Scoring and Business, and the video game scoring minor. And now I’m working as an assistant to Jeff Russo in LA. 

    For many graduating students, the goal is to find a job. But how? Do you have any insight onto how to search for jobs?

    P: Justine Toarmino from the LA Alumni office really helped me out. I also went to a lot of Berklee networking events with other alumni. And Alison Plante organized a big BBQ for film scoring majors. The network from Berklee that I knew from when I was in school really helped me out. Any studio you go to, there's always someone from Berklee there. 

    How did you end up working for Jeff Russo as his assistant? What do your daily tasks consist of?

    P: I reached out to Justine when I was in LA, and she mentioned that Matea, who works at Jeff’s, was looking for an intern, and that was pretty much it. I interned for Jeff for three and half months before getting hired this past August.

    It’s a small team, with one main assistant, and then other assistants who sort of have different roles. I do a lot of the prep and the scheduling, and then assist other assistants whenever they need it. It’s such a small team, that we all do a lot of stuff during the day. It goes from scheduling meetings, but also to setting up sessions when he receives new episodes to score, and making sure everything is ready for him to score. We all help each other. I also take notes from the producers.

    I’m starting to write a couple cues, but that’s going a bit slowly. I had to build trust and prove myself in order to do this. I also set up any new sample libraries that we buy, and organize everything for the recording sessions to give to the orchestrators. So what I do really depends on what’s going on. 

    Can you describe your experience moving to LA?

    P: I basically did a road trip for a month right after graduation with two friends.  When I arrived here, I crashed at a friend’s planning to stay a week, and ended up staying a month and a half. The whole process of getting a car and place took about a month a half. And then another month and a half to work. I was a bit overwhelmed while I was at Berklee, so I just needed a break. After three months in LA, I started reaching out for work. The process was easier because I knew a lot of people here already, and it felt really welcoming. 

    Is there anything you wish you knew before getting there?

    P I wish I had gotten my American driver’s license before I got here. I’m stuck with my international. I wish I knew that when you get here, you basically start at level 0. When you get here, you have to relearn everything in context, and have to learn how to work on a team. I wish I would’ve known that it’s not as scary as it seems once you get here. 

    How does this process differ for international students?

    P:  International students in general try to get jobs faster because we have this urgency of this one year visa, where as an American doesn’t have this deadline. It’s really stressful because there’s no guarantee that it’s going to happen. My whole life is built in the states. All my friends, boyfriend, and job is here. It gives us much more motivation. I’m trying to see it more as a chance than a curse. 

    What makes a great assistant?

    P: If you put work first, people will notice. It’s understanding that you’re here to assist someone else’s career. Your job is to make everything possible for that person to do their job very well. So expect to make sacrifices. You’re going to work late and not get holidays off. But people will notice. Be attentive to details, be on top of things, and remember everything that needs to be done. Making a mistake is okay, but a lot of people tend to put you in a box very quickly so just be sure to not make the mistake twice. Being able to react to stressful situations is also important because this is a stressful industry. Channel that stress and use it as energy to get things done. Just remember, it’s just music. We’re not curing cancer, it’s not the end of the world. It’s similar to Berklee in the sense where you’re busy all the time, but then there are times you are really busy and need to stay late. The difference is that there’s no homework when you get home.

    Is there anything you have learned being an assistant that you would like to share?

    P: It’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and don’t do them again. I definitely learned a lot by making mistakes, and that’s how you learn. Don’t make big ones though, and don’t break things. I learned small things like, in TV, the person you talk to is called the show runner, while in film, it’s the director. I’ve learned a lot about the industry just by listening to Jeff talk. As an assistant, I’ve learned patience. When you get here, you won’t be composing right away because you have to prove yourself to your boss. The opportunities will come to you if you work hard enough. 

    Do you have any advice for graduating students who are going to be moving to LA and looking for work? 

    P: Go to every networking event, and stay connected within the Berklee community. There are tons of events organized by Berklee in LA, so reconnect with people you may have met during Berklee. They can connect with you and help you out. I’m very aware of the help I’ve been given, and I’d be more than happy to do the same for someone. And definitely reach out to Justine.  Don’t apply for the places you think is cool to apply to. Apply to the place you think you’re going to fit in. 

    Thanks again to Perrine for this great and insightful interview! Have a great week, everyone! 

  • Women In Games Boston- Celia Pierce's Confessions of a Serial Instigator

    This week, I went to the Women In Games Boston December Party. This month, WIG hosted their meetup at Northeastern University, led by guest speaker and Northeastern faculty member, Celia Pierce. Celia Pearce, co-founder of IndieCade, is an associate professor of game design at Northeastern University. For the past thirty plus years, she has suffered from compulsive instigation syndrome, an uncontrollable desire to start new things. She also shared some of her successes and failures and presented some of her insights on what is required to start something new. 

    Celia shared with us her rules of thumb for starting something new:

    1. When opportunity knocks, pick up the phone. 

    2. We can have lots of ideas, but are scared to actually do them. In ideas, begin to-do lists.

    3. If someone implements an idea you had, think of it as something to check off your to-do list. 

    4. If your primary concern is making money, it's likely that you will fail. Most of the people interested in money do not want to take risks. 

    5. Run the opposite direction of the lemmings. Celia told us a story as an example: She was walking in a very crowded subway area, and was presented with the choice of going up the escalator, which was jam packed with people, or going up the elevator, which was empty. Instead of the taking the path most followed (the escalator), she chose to take the elevator, and almost immediately people started following her. Take the path less followed. 

    6. Learn from the pros. Find a mentor and learn from them. 

    7. Be willing to make colossal failures and redefine success. For example, many people find that having lots of money is what makes you successful. Celia finds that doing something meaningful that resonates with people is the definition of success. 

    8. Fail better! If you do fail, it's really good to understand why you failed so you can avoid it next time. Be willing to let this failure go and move on to the next thing. 

    9. Don't take "no" for an answer, but be willing to wait for a yes. 

    10. If you're ahead of your time, wait for the world to catch up. 

    11. If you have things to do, give it to a busy person. 

    12. No virtuous action will go unpunished.

    13. Play well with others. New things require support. 

    14. Listen. Get buy-in. Take feedback. 

    15. The best idea is the one that has a life of its own after you walk away. For example, if Celia was no longer a part of Indiecade, it would run on its own anyway because of how strong it is. 

    16. People who are good at starting things aren't always good at running them. Find people who can implement your ideas. 

    Celia then went on to discuss some of the initiatives she has been involved with creating, including IndieCade, XYZ, an exhibition about women game designers, the USC School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media program, the new BFA in Games at Northeastern, and other projects. She had many stories to share, and I'll share some of them with you. Firstly, Celia helped to start the Master's program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media and Games Division, with no idea that the best game designers in the world would eventually come from there. I've personally worked with students from this program, and they indeed have always been phenomenal and eager to try new things!

    She also helped to start the Arts Computation and Engineer program at UC Irvine. This was meant to be an interdisciplinary program between the arts and engineering, but failed due to lack of resources. Celia also credits this failure as an example of people who are good at starting things, but not good at running them. 

    Celia also helped found the Digital Games Research Association. There was nothing of its kind at the time, and there were tons of information about games out there, but no central location for people to access it. Someone identified this gap, and did something about it- a great quality and reason for starting something new. 

    Celia then went on to co-found Indiecade, and has also served as its chair. She described how Indiecade redefined what independent actually meant by diversifying its submission pool to include minorities and other genres of games. Again, someone identified a gap, and solved it. 

    The meet-up came with lots of awesome questions for Celia as well. 

    Q: When you have so many ideas, how do you know which one is worth pursuing? 

    A: Traction. Find someone who is also on board with your idea and wants to engage with it. This helps to make the idea move. 

    Q: When you find something interesting, how do you gage the value of that idea? How do you materialize that idea?

    A: If you're an artist and there's a story you want to tell, figure out how to do it without need anyone's approval. Talking about your ideas early and often helps protect you. Do your homework, and you'll know if what you've done is actually original. A lot people come up with up with ideas they're not capable of implementing. If you can do it on your own, screw everyone else and just do it. The important thing is to know your limitations. 

    Q: How do you evaulate who should be on your team?

    A: Go to events where other game developers are found. You'll meet someone that will resonate with you, either because of their personality, work, or both. Ask for recommendations and participate in informal networking. Concept boards are ways to show what you can do really helps too. You can also barter to work on each other's games. Keep realistic expectations. 

    Q: What's the best way to share ideas?

    A: Don't hide your ideas. Design blogs help you work through your process and have other people watch. Submit your prototypes and ideas to expos and other groups for feedback. Show your work in progress as early as possible.

    Also, never underestimate the power of a niche. Take the risk on an audience that's been underserved. Unanticipated audience are pretty great. For example, when Angry Birds was made, the demographic was most likely for children ages 3-12. Who would've thought that the Baby Boomer generation would have picked up on it? Think about the demographics who don't have much content. 

    This was a very informative and helpful presentation, and I encourage all of you to go to Women In Games monthly meetup!

    Have a great week, everyone! 

    Natalia Perez

  • Chanel Summers: Unconventional Sound Design Exercises

    Chanel Summers, a pioneer in the world of game and audio design, stopped by one of our weekly WFI meetings to give her presentation, Unconventional Sound Design Exercises.  Chanel discussed several "out of the box" type experiments that will get students thinking about how to work with audio in unusual and creative ways.

    For those of you who may not know Chanel, she's a rockstar. A pioneer in the world of games and sound, Chanel paved the way by creating innovative products at early industry leading companies ranging from Mindscape, to Velocity (makers of the first networked video game) to Mattel Media, where she designed and developed everything from high-performance 3D vehicle simulations, to action/arcade platform games, to hardware peripherals. Chanel was also responsible for launching DirectMusic at Microsoft. 

    Firstly, Chanel touched on the importance of diversity. Everyone has something special and unique to contribute. By not having diversity, you are not realizing an artform’s full potential because not all voices are heard. Because of this, and her love of games and audio, Chanel actually hosts workshops all over the world for young women in order to expose them to this possible career path, as many don't even know that this is an option.  

    Chanel continued to discuss how sound can influence our perception of story. Sound will always alter the way images are perceived, not the other way around. Sound can emphasize or enhance metaphors, pacing, and mood. They can shape perception and characters, and enforce the narrative.  You can use it for juxtaposition or synchronization to the images. For example, watch your favorite scene from a movie. Got it? Now watch it again with a different piece of music. As you will probably notice, the sound alters our perception of the images, not the other way around. 

    With sound, you can constantly experiment. You can make an entire soundscape out of one sound: vocalisations, or even cardboard boxes. Use digital signal processing to stretch, cut, and alter your sounds in any way imaginable and see what you can do with it! This also encourages creativity and creative problem solving.

    You can even use your own voice, and only your voice, to create really great and convincing soundscapes. Vocalisations can be processed, blended, and mixed to make other sounds that don’t sound like vocalisations at all. Chanel showed us an example in which a student at one of her workshops made a car speeding down the highway with only their voice. Engine, revving, the squeaking of the tires- all done with only the voice. Pretty amazing huh?

    Chanel then suggested to keep your recorded and processed sounds logged in a spreadsheet, with names and a list of things they could possibly be used for. Eventually, you’ll have your own customized library to draw from.  Study and identify sounds to test if you can hear the various properties and what they can be used for. For example, does it sound metallic? Crunchy? What surface and material is this thing made of? What can that be used for?

    Thanks again to Chanel for sharing her wonderful advice and knowledge with us! You can read more about Chanel and her company, Syndicate 17, here


  • Skype Interview with Sarah Kovacs!

    Last month, the Women's Film Initiative hosted a Skype interview with Sarah Kovacs, the newest agent at Kraft-Engel Management, one of the world's leading representatives of film and theatre composers, songerwriters, music supervisors, and now video game composers. She heads the newly created New Media division, representing composers for the exploding field which include video games, web-based original series and television. Sarah shared her role and day to day tasks at Kraft-Engel, how she works to help shape her clients' career, and the importance of being a creative problem solver. She also spoke about the things up and coming composers can do to further their career and eventually have the opportunity to be presented by an agency. 

    To watch the whole interview, click here

  • Why We Need More Diversity In The Arts

    You hear it everywhere, don't you? There needs to be more racial diversity! More women in leading roles in film and television! More stories about the LBGT community! It's common to hear it everywhere you go, and it's even more common to hear people complain about how sick of all of it they are. But let's put things into some perspective. Why is diversity so important? Why do we NEED to have more women playing lead characters in movies, why do we NEED to have more stories about civil rights and transgender issues? 

    There has to be more diversity simply because diversity is what causes an artform to reach its full potential. Let's relate this to film. There is a huge gender disparity when it comes to fulfilling lead roles, directors, editors, producers, writers, etc. So what happens? These voices aren't heard. There is an entire demographic that is left out, meaning there is an entire demographic whose own personal experiences, stories, and personalities aren't being shared.

    As a result, you tend to see the same stories, same actors, and same experiences being told over and over again because they're being told by the exact same people. Any artform that does this tends to develop trends that others try to imitate, which then becomes the absolute opposite of innovation, and we end up with a billion versions of the same story (Boring!). By simply adding the voices of women, ethnic minorities, and the LBGT/transgender communities, we have blown the door wide open to introduce stories and experiences that havn't been told before. And we think that's pretty cool.

    In another sense, not having these stories be shared on a larger platform creates a culture that is severely limited in empathy, world views, and diversified experiences. Remember when Blackfish came out and how it caused an uproar? Blackfish, a recently released documentary detailing the captivity and mistreatment of orcas by Seaworld, led to outrage by millions, causing Seaworld's attendance numbers and overall reputation to decline. In a recent court proceeding. Seaworld San Diego is now no longer allowed to breed, sell, transfer, or trade their orcas, a huge win for the animal rights community.

     As you can see, film, television, video games, books- whatever the platform is- causes the audience to think differently, to see the world differently. We are slightly shaped by these experiences. Imagine how much more empathy there would be in the world if women, minorities, and other groups who do not get to share their experiences as widely as they would like would be given the opportunity to tell their stories? A great example is the recent series on the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page, where the stories of Syrian refugees are being shared and seen by millions. 

    And finally, diversity is important in the arts because we need to show the world that anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, disability, and sexual orientation, can do what we do and make an impact on the world. 

    To summarize, everyone is different, and everyone has something unique to bring to the table. By having a less diversified art, we lose innovation, freshness, and the true potential of that artform is never truly revealed. We've come a long way, but there is so much more to be done. 

    WFI wants you to know how important this issue is to us, and how we're working to bring more diversity as well! WFI hopes to prepare women composers for when they enter the film industry so that their musical voices can be heard! With weekly presentations on the latest technology, Skype interviews with women already in the industry, constructive crtiques on each other's music, the newly implemented Mentorship Program, and a thriving relationship with Emerson's Women In Motion and other female filmmaking communities, we hope to bring more diversity in the world of film, games, and television.

    Wishing you all a wonderful October!

    -Natalia Perez

  • Welcome Back! New Leadership

    Welcome back! WFI is returning for the 2015 school year andwe couldn't be more excited! We now are have a Board of Directors- (from left to right) Merissa Magdael-Lauron, Director of Outreach; Natalia Perez, President; Jess Leech, Director of Visual Media; and Victoria Ruggerio, Director of Social Media. This is a big step for WFI, and together we are already taking big strides to get WFI members prepared to tackle on the film industry when they graduate. 

    WFI now has a Mentorship Program! Members can volunteer to become a mentor/mentee based on their specialized skills, in hopes of forming commaderie amongst our members as well as creating a safe learning environment. As our members go off into the industry, they will able to apply these skills with confidence, and adapt to whatever situation comes their way. 

    Stay tuned for more awesome events and updates! Go WFI!

    -Natalia Perez

  • The Move to LA - chatting with Justine Taormino

    Anyone moving to Los Angeles after graduation certainly has a lot of questions and worries.  Is LA the place for me?  How do I meet people, and how can I stay in touch with them?  Where should I live?  When can I start… and where?  Can I make it in LA?  Many of us may be feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and panicked; others may be excited, eager; and for some, the reality of moving hasn’t set in yet.

     The Women’s Film Initiative was so fortunate to have a Meet and Greet event with Justine Taormino earlier this month.  As the Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs in Los Angeles for Berklee, she is the person to know to answer your questions and ease your worries about the big move.  She also runs the Women in Tune Networking group, which supports and connects female musicians in the Los Angeles Area.  She came to speak to us about the next step in our careers and how best to prepare, covering topics from living in Los Angeles, maintaining our network, applying for jobs, and navigating the industry.

    Los Angeles can be quite different from our east-coast hometown, she explained.  Unlike Boston, LA is quite spread out, with many different sections: the Valley, the East side, Beverly Hills, Downtown LA, West LA, and the South Bay.  Because of this, yes, you need a car, and yes, traffic is as bad as you’ve heard.  Justine says there is never a “wrong” time to move, but it is important to know the cycles of your industry, whether you will be working in TV, film, or touring.  She suggests the 2-year rule as a guide for getting settled in LA.  In the first year, you’ll spend your time trying to meet people, introducing yourself, and getting onto their radar – essentially letting them know you are in LA now.  It takes until about the second year when things start to take off.  It finally hits people that, “Oh, yeah, you live here now!  Let’s get coffee.”  This, in itself, may take another month and a half because everyone is so busy, but it’s getting somewhere, and that is what’s most important.

    So how do you meet the people you need to know?  Put simply, networking is reaching out to people.  The best way to meet someone new is to take the initiative – just say hi, introduce yourself, and ask about what they do or why they are in LA. Networking now while you’re at school is crucial, because once you graduate, you will never be in the same proximity of so many people who want to do what you want to do.  Start making connections now from your own group – friends, classmates, colleagues, professors.  Once you get to LA, attend a Berklee Alumni event – the alumni in LA have an incredibly supportive community.  Remember: try not to write anyone off – it’s possible that you may not click with someone now, but people change, and he or she could end up being your best friend in the future (or your boss!). 

    And of course, the question we all want to know the answer to: how do we land that first job (especially one that’s related to our degrees and actually pays the bills)?  Even Justine can’t give us the exact answer, because there is no sure-fire way to land a job.  The most important way, though, is to use this network that you have established and take advantage of your resources.  Have a positive online presence and a solid résumé, and have work to show when your potential employer asks for it.  The biggest thing to remember is that other people will ask their own friends and networks for recommendations – and your name has to come up – so keep in touch with your connections well before you need to ask for a job.

    Surviving in LA boils down to a few vital points

    The only ticking timer is money – if you can pay bills, you can stay in LA indefinitely.  Keep expenses low, have money saved, transfer jobs from Boston or home, and be open to saying yes to anything.  According to Justine, it is survival of the fittest, not necessarily the most talented.  Have a good attitude and solid work ethic, and you will be able to stay in the game.  The longer you are there, the better off you are.

    Justine had two especially wonderful pieces of advice for all of us looking to build a career in Los Angeles.  The first is that, when looking for work, you should never think “What can you do for me?”  Rather, you should consider “How can I help?”  Be the person your boss cannot work without.  Bring your skill set to the team and help make everyone’s job easier.  By presenting yourself this way, you will appear very positive and proactive, and will be more likely to receive the next interview or position.

    The other is something we should all take to heart: Helping others build their career helps you build yours.  Focus on the skills you have that can solve problems for others, and share what you know.  In turn, people will share knowledge with you.  By keeping in touch with others you have helped and who have helped you, you can pull each other up the ladder and onward to career success.

    So what’s next?  Take a pre-move visit, reach out to alums for coffee or informational interviews.  Catch up with old friends.  Gather content for your online presence.  Learn from your faculty, chairs, and colleagues.  Even apply for internships – it’s never to soon to get some experience.  Whatever you do now as a student will help you in the long run. 

    Good luck, and hope to see you in LA!

    - Emily Joseph



  • Laura Karpman: One of the 2%

     As we learned with Penka Kouneva, 2% of film composers are female. Laura Karpman is one of that 2%. Last week, she visited Berklee for a few days, and Women's Film Initiative wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity to speak with her! Also a presenter at Athena Film Festival, which WFI attended in February, we were excited to finally speak with her more personally at our own school. Among her many presentations, WFI collected as much information as possible to share with you all. 

    There was one concept that spanned all three presentations, which was finding your own voice and enjoying what you do. Many students worry about writing music that stands out, separating themselves from the abundant amount composers in the industry, and branding themselves. Laura responded to our concerns with "you are you no matter you go." Though she did tell us it was important to develop ourselves as artists and know who we are, she also noted that it's impossible for us to get away from ourselves, and that we needn't try so hard to find our sound. It develops naturally, and we should enjoy the process.  

    Since WFI had attended Athena Film Festival, we had some great networking practice, but Laura shed some new light on the tough skill. One of our members, Perrine Virgile, was struck by her approach to attending festivals. You don't always have to have something to promote. She reminded us that, "if I can meet only one person, it is a success"

    Laura Karpman also gave an absolutely invaluable presentation on making the most of your budget.  When she was given the opportunity to do a Steven Spielberg sci-fi miniseries called Taken, certain problems arose -- They wanted a John Williams score on sci-fi miniseries budget. Most people would say "it can't be done!" but Laura got creative and made the best of their 30-40 piece orchestra. She came up with clever, problem-solving tricks. Things that wouldn't seem obvious like, recording a small orchestra in a large space can give it a fuller sound; saving time by starting hard meter and tempo changes in the percussion; using both low and high registers; avoiding divisi strings, which can cause a thinner sound in a smaller orchestra; using woodwinds in a solositic way can add fuller texture; trying unconventional doublings of brass and strings for a bit of a heavier sound; the use of piano can go a long way in creating thickness in an orchestra; and, above all, giving yourself the opportunity to enjoy your music! When everyone is enjoying the music, the session will go a long way.

    She worked with NO budget on a smaller movie called The Naked Option. Luckily, Laura is a master of technology, which is often an aspect of the job that women are criticized for. The film featured african women chanting, so Laura got inventive and sampled the chanting and singing in the film and used it to create the score combinbing the sampled voices with one guitarist, one vocalist, and many percussion samples. 

    One of the last subjects she touched upon was her most recent project which was a documentary. One of the questions from a student in our class was "How do you stay unbiased in a documentary?" Because often the point of documentaries is to remain unbiased. Laura's response was that music will always make a point, whatever that point is. Don't be afraid to have a point and purpose with your music, even in the context of documentaries.

    Until next time,

    Jess Disraeli & Zoe Lustri

  • Happy Anniversary WFI!

    Just a few days ago on March 27th, marked the one year anniversary of the Women's Film Initiative. At that point, I remember being amazed that we even had a dozen women involved in the film scoring department, since I had only seen and met maybe five in my three years at Berklee. Today, I am proud to say we have grown to reach over one hundred and fifty women in film at Berklee and Emerson.

      Those of you who knew WFI's co-founders, Elisa Rice and Leah Dennis, most likely shared my admiration for their dedication and commitment to building WFI from the ground up. They were aware of how important it was to bring light to the gender disparity issue on a collegiate level, giving us a chance to prepare for the unique challenges we'll face, and try to find the root of the problem, so we can restore balance. Since a good portion of our members are female Film Scoring students at Berklee, we’ve been taught to expect such gender imbalances in the field, but our goal is to strengthen and inspire that small community, and build a support system so strong that nothing can stop us. 
    You all have made my job so simple by readily supporting your fellow female filmmakers and composers, and I'm consistently impressed by the talent I see in all of you, and how genuine each and every person in this group is. I can't wait to see what this coming year holds for us! 
    Jess Disraeli
    President, Women's Film Initiative
  • The Importance of Collaboration

     What a busy semester it's been for the Women's Film Initiative! After a nice spring break, WFI came back with a focus -- sharing our work. It is too often that we shy away from putting ourselves on the line and getting feedback on the work that we hold closest to our hearts. One of the hardest things about this at Berklee is that everyone around us is full of so much talent, so how do we convince ourselves that our work is just as valuable as the next person's? Of course, there is always room to grow and I encourage everyone to learn from their peers and use them as inspiration, not intimidation, but how can we accomplish this?  

    So as a one year anniversary present to WFI, we set out to find an answer. In our meeting, six women shared their work (some more willingly than others) and I can say with confidence, ALL were great. The very next week at Emerson's Women in Motion meeting, we watched about six of their members show films they had worked on, and I noticed a slight difference in attitude from them...they were all EAGER to show their work - even the films they weren't proud of. They screened films from freshman year that they laughed at together because they had grown so much since then. 

    I was astonished and delighted to see this and asked myself "why were they so eager to show their
    films, while many women at Berklee wanted to hide their music?" I came to one possible conclusion. The TEAM.  


    As young composers, it's easy to lose that sense of teamwork, since music teams don't come until
    later on in our career, and we are usually the last piece of the film. Filmmakers, as we saw at Emerson, can share in the experience of making a film together, bouncing ideas off each other and gaining confidence in their project through the support of other people.

    Now just because this is the way things have been, doesn't mean they have to stay that way. I encourage all composers and film makers to COLLABORATE with each other. Work with live players, have a friend help orchestrate, write beautiful music together, make strong films, and enjoy the process, so we can enjoy the end product! 

    - Jess Disraeli