Director Celia Jaspers has worked on numerous local and international TV shows, and her first foray into film, a short called Milk, has been accepted into 54 international festivals, and has picked up 17 awards and 29 finalist nods. Celia says she's most proud of her recent wins for Best Female Director wins from the Montana International Film Fest and Best Director from New Creators film awards in France. Celia squeezed in time to chat with us about what she does and why she loves it.
How did you get into the industry?
I worked on set with the What Now show in Christchurch while still at high school, and when I left school, was offered an internship type role at TVNZ which quickly lead on to directing and editing. I've been full time at TVNZ and freelance my whole working life. These days I'm producing and directing factual telly whilst pursuing my first love, drama directing.
What does it require you to do day-to-day?
That all depends on the job at the time. As a director on Country Calendar we often wear several hats simultaneously. Once I was on a shoot in the Chatham Islands, and at one moment on the beach I was operating the B camera on a gimbal, holding the drone for the DP whilst also holding the reins of a frisky pony! Just another day...
On some shows, I'm a hired gun and arrive with a schedule and script already done. I have the fun bit on set and in the field directing talent, organising locations and crew, keeping the day on-track, making creative choices with the DP and sound, and deciding which bar to go to that night! On other shows or projects I'm in from the ground level, developing the show, designing the elements and look, writing the script, shooting it and then taking it through post to delivery. So it's really varied which I love, and uses lots of disciplines. Definitely not a single-skill job!
What strengths do you need to do your role?
A little bit of everything I think, so balance perhaps! It's creative and imaginative, logical and extremely practical at times. You need to be organised, a good time-keeper, and good with money and budgeting. You need to be good with people, and to understand an actor's processes and give meaningful direction. You need to be patient, calm, kind, thoughtful and a leader all at once!
What are the things you love about it?
It's real left-brain right-brain stuff to me, I love the creative and imaginative part, thinking ahead, imagining what it needs to look like and then putting it in place to realise that dream. I love the pace of filmmaking and television in particular. You think of something and then you go and do it - we don't ponder too long. I love delivering the finished product too, it's great having a completed project, something that has an end! I do enjoy post-production and the polishing stages.
What advice would you give to other women wanting to do the same job?
It's not always easy, but I think women can make fantastic directors, we have empathy and understanding, we are creative and multi-tasking, we can be subtle and persuasive without being aggressive. But you have to be firm and clear with your direction or its easy to be steamrolled. If you have a vision no matter what the production is, set it out and go forth with purpose! Be a good leader without being a tyrant! Ask for help if you can't do it, and go learn about it if you don't know it. There's no excuse for not knowing about process or technical these days, information is everywhere.