Posted February 19, 2015 by Casey McCallister
In addition to our amazing photographers, SmartShoot’s creative platform also has a range of talented filmmakers. We welcome Barbara Grandvoinet as our first filmmaker spotlight interview.
Tell me about yourself. How did you get into filmmaking?
I was born and raised in Paris, France. When I was a teenager, I came to the U.S. several times to learn English during summer vacation. In the late 90s, I studied Communications at the University of Paris and took a class in videography. I really enjoyed it, and that was my first experience using the camera. I also knew I wanted to return to the US and decided to do an exchange program with my university and Hunter College in New York, NY. I came to New York to study and became an intern then a production assistant for PBS / WNET for 2 years working on documentaries. Since English was my second language, I wanted to learn more about the technology and vocabulary of filmmaking so I decided to pursue a MA in Broadcasting Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University. I graduated in 2005 and at the time was more interested in finding a job in producing, but I could not find anything so I studied editing. That was not enough to survive, so I picked up the camera and started filming. I worked as a line producer on a documentary entitled “These Amazing Shadows” which premiered at Sundance in 2011 and I also worked on a couple of other documentaries and TV shows that were broadcast internationally and nationally.
You are a very versatile filmmaker. What kind of subjects really reel you in?
I love working on humanitarian projects and stories for good so anyone who is genuine and has an inspirational story attracts me. My most memorable project was working on my own documentary following street kids in Thailand.
Any projects that you’re working on that you’re excited about?
I’m working on a TV pilot with a goal of inspiring social change.
Who are your mentors? Who do you look to for inspiration?
One of my mentors is my great friend Toan Lam, a former TV news reporter who quit his career to work on inspirational, character-driven stories of everyday heroes and encourage viewers to use their powers to help others. I currently work with him. He is my biggest inspiration.
It looks as though you started off as a photographer and transitioned to creating video? What encouraged you to make the switch? What difficulties have you encountered?
Actually I started as a producer, became an editor and a videographer. Photography is more a side passion than a professional career. I decided to learn editing to potentially get jobs as a producer and fell in love with editing. Editing was not enough to make a living so I re-learned the camera and became a one-woman-band!
Any advice for fellow filmmakers?
It’s good to know every elements of filmmaking so you are not stuck doing one thing. When I could not find a job, I had to re-invent myself and learn editing and filming. That’s what saved me. So my advice would be to be open-minded and if you like the field of filmmaking so much but can’t make a living then think about how you can make it happen for yourself by learning new skills.