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March 2018

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Page 12 of 43 11 POST MARCH 2018 WOMEN IN POST or nearly 15 years, Crystal Campbell, co-founder/exec- utive producer of New York City creative shop Roof Studio, has been forging a career pathway at the intersection of entertainment, advertising and technology. She became skilled in 3D and editing be- fore moving into live action and VFX production. Campbell has worked with clients such as Coca-Cola, Google, IBM and GE while at numer- ous production studios, including Psyop, 1stAveMachine and Superfad. She's no stranger to being the only woman in a meeting. Coming from a technical background, she noticed early on that there were very few women in technical roles. In fact, she frequently saw technical insights from female contributors overlooked and downplayed by male counterparts. Now that she helms her own shop, Campbell hopes to work with other female industry leaders to change this dynamic. Her hope is that the next generation of women will be more empowered, by female and male mentors alike, to get involved in hands-on technical work from the onset of their careers. Here, she takes time out to reflect on her career and experiences. How did you get into the media field? "My love of film began as a child. My mom would allow my sister and me to rent movies, but only Hollywood classics — which is funny, looking back, because they have such a specific sensibility that was already totally anachronistic at the time. Regardless, they clearly informed my budding sense of individual taste and artistic development. I think it's safe to say that I owe my interest in media to those movies. I moved to New York in the mid-'90s to get my under- graduate degree in film at Columbia." What were your background interests, education and first job? "During college, my night job was, randomly, in photogrammetry, which is basically layering two or more photographs together to create reliable measurements of physical objects. This is what led to my 3D work. After college, I was hired by the same mapping and telecom- munications company to make 3D models of cities. "When the dot-com boom busted in 2001, a lot of those companies went belly up. I had worked so hard at the telecom company to develop one specific skill that when it came to an end, I was like, I didn't go to school for this. How do I get a job in something similar? I returned to film because I didn't originally train for a job in computers and, of course, because I still loved it. This period taught me a valuable life lesson: Having the mindset of 'I developed one skill for one job and I can't do anything else' is too lim- iting. Shifting gears was so critical to helping me diversify my abilities. For example, I edited in college and knew I was good at it, so I spent a few years bouncing between work- ing in 3D and editing before moving into live action and VFX produc- tions — in both PA and an associate producer roles. "Working as a PA, you really have to prove yourself, especially as a woman. Luckily, I worked mostly on indie films and commercial sets, which I found to be more egalitarian than, say, big studio feature film sets. Still, I was ex- posed to plenty of 'mansplaining.'" There's a lot of talk these days about equal opportunity and pay equality for women. Do you feel you've been treated differently? "Yes. The assumption about female producers tends to be that you don't understand technical details. There is bias. Maybe some producers don't experience this, but I always did. I was often frustrated because it seemed like people didn't believe me or didn't trust my advice because the assumption was that I didn't know what I was talking about. The reason I'm bringing up this concern is that it has a trickle-down effect. One decision affects the amount of time everyone has to work: If some- one doesn't follow a specific VFX instruction on a shoot, more people have to work longer on editing later. I do feel that there is a relation- ship between all of this, and this is why I want to protect all the artists working under me. It's unfortunate that women have to waste time and energy to make your stance, make yourself heard, and be aggressive about it so that others listen to you and take your advice. "My perspective has evolved over time because these experiences, un- fortunately, have not. At my first job, most of the other employees were men. Most had degrees in computers and I didn't, so I'd be at the office late at night and on weekends — the only person working in a sea of hundreds of empty chairs. I was very ambitious and knew I would have to work harder than my colleagues to get ahead, but I fully attribut- ed that to my lack of background experience. It never even occurred to me that some of the walls I was hitting were put there because I am a woman. When someone would talk down to me, I didn't process the interaction as men-versus-women. Looking back now, I can see that, yeah, some of that was definitely sexism, but I was too young and it was too subtle for me to put that name to it. It wasn't as overt as when I worked at a record label in college and someone would slap my ass. That was obviously horrible and shouldn't have happened. All women have experienced workplace sexism on various levels, and I'm glad that it has become more status quo to check this kind of behavior, realize it is happening and to do things to prevent it." Do you have advice for young women who are starting their careers? "Because I wasn't so conscious ear- ly in my career of sexism being an ever-present problem, I didn't think about it as I pushed forward. My advice is that it's important to stop and recognize it. Women shouldn't be worried about speaking up about sexism. There's a stereotype that women are meek, and I don't think that's the case. I think it's simply that in the past, women had a different way of handling things, which was to work around the sex- ist behavior rather than speak up about it. It's time for that way of doing things to die. "Feel confident that you can acknowledge and confront sexism instead of worrying that people will think you're complaining, or you're being difficult. Get over that! Do what you'd normally do and don't skirt around the issue. Don't be too hard on yourself, though, and understand that it's a work in progress for many of us. For exam- ple, I still say 'sorry' too much as an automatic response when it's not warranted. Saying 'sorry' is one of those things that so many women do without realizing it because it's so ingrained in our culture. It's a small, but a very specific behavior that ties into this larger issue. We have to push through sexism and not apologize." ROOF STUDIO FOUNDER/EP CRYSTAL CAMPBELL F BY MARC LOFTUS Crystal Campbell

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