I am pleased to interview Anne Preussel, one of Global Media Desk's talented freelance female filmmakers, for International Women's Day. With her unique perspective, she can provide us with invaluable insight into the world of filmmaking as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can help to further our understanding of the importance of gender equality in the film industry. Her words will inspire us all and give us a deeper appreciation for the struggles and successes of female filmmakers.
Anne has nearly a decade of experience in video production and photography and is dedicated to creating engaging and impactful visuals. With her creative eye and technical expertise, Anne is able to create stunning videos that bring people's stories to life.
What inspired you to pursue a career in video production?
"When I was 10 years old, my father bought a digital camera that soon became my favorite toy. I started filming myself and my friends and soon discovered a few tricks by myself – for example, how to make my friend magically disappear in a film by placing the camera in a fixed position, filming [the subject], pausing the camera, and then continuing filming the empty location.
I also discovered how to actually do small edits on film, by copying the material from the camera to a VHS cassette - don’t ask me now how I did it, but I discovered that this was something creative I loved doing!
Unfortunately, at this stage, my parents never thought of encouraging me to pursue a film career. Before the German reunion, my mum had worked as a costume designer for east German TV, and she used to tell me how difficult it all became for the film crew from east Germany to continue their career after the fall of the wall as they all lost their stable jobs.
But that did not take away [from] my passion. Later, when I studied Spanish Philology and Sociology at University, I always liked to include photographs and short interviews that I had filmed with my small simple digital camera in my presentations. I also enjoyed the reaction and interest of everybody seeing those. That encouraged me a lot. I took up workshops in photography and editing whenever I had the chance and met many like-minded people that inspired me to follow the path."
What challenges have you faced as a woman in video production?
"When I was looking for an internship in film in Berlin, a Turkish friend of mine approached me and asked me if I wanted to join him to shoot events in Dubai - he had a couple of shoots lined up and needed a second camera person to rely on. The 3 months turned into 6 years of great opportunities working as a female photographer and cinematographer in the Middle East.
Back in Germany, a lot of people asked me, “Wasn’t it difficult to work as a woman in Dubai?” And my answer is, “It’s an advantage!” In Dubai, you’ll find many events - including local weddings - where only a female crew is allowed. So, the market was great for me. I met great colleagues from all over the world, and I had the impression that everybody in the field was very enthusiastic and always keen on learning new skills and using new technologies, and we all learned a lot from each other at work.
In Germany, sometimes I get the impression that many people have a very outdated opinion and think that proper good films are done by a big crew of men with big cameras. Just shortly after moving back to Dubai, [I started] working for big international brands and [developed] a great portfolio. I was hired to shoot an event in Berlin, and after the shoot, I asked the client how they found me and why they decided to go with me, and they answered, “we wanted to give you a young woman a chance.” This answer was a bit shocking.
Another time, a person I had interviewed for a project in Germany asked me, “Can you actually make a living from this?” After a few seconds of surprise, I answered her that I was planning to retire in a few years because I had saved up so much.
Just don’t let yourself be discouraged by the ignorance of other people. Rather help them understand the market better and tell them about your personal experiences."
What advice would you give to a female cinematographer to make her work stand out?
"Just focus on what you actually like doing. Be it fashion, food, event, documentary, working with corporate clients…. Assist and learn from other cinematographers that inspire you. And make sure people get to see your work. Update your website, social media channels… I think I would give the same advice to everybody, no matter which gender."
What is the proudest accomplishment in your video production career?
"Once, I got an assignment to shoot a hiking trip up to Mount Everest Basecamp. As somebody who has never really done a big hiking trip, with no experience with altitude, I was very proud of myself when we reached the basecamp. There were a lot of challenges - I could not always charge my batteries, and [they] died so quickly from the cold, so I had to [get] creative and kept all my charged batteries with me in my sleeping bag through the night.
How do you think International Women’s Day can help elevate the visibility of females in the industry?
"I’ll be able to tell you after March 8 🙂 I think it would be a great initiative for production companies to highlight the work of their female crew on that day."
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