Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

Powered by Women: Meet the Badasses Behind Cut+Run and Jogger

Los Angeles, USA
Leadership behind the international edit house and VFX studio on industry change and what inspires them at work

In honour of International Women’s Day, we spoke with women in leadership at Cut+Run and Jogger who reflected on questions of equality, industry change, and what inspires them at work. 

Q> Growing up, who was your biggest role model and why?

Michelle Eskin, managing partner> My mother, mom, momma, momacita, badass woman… She helped shape the crucial foundation of my life. I lost her to cancer when I was in my twenties, but she gave me gifts to carry throughout my life. She was adamant about living your life with honesty and integrity. She was primarily a single mother, working during an era that was hard for women to do this. I was always in awe of her strength and work ethic. Forging her way through any barriers in life with a smile and positivity; she looked at challenges and found the sunshine. 

It was ingrained in me from babyhood, “you can be and do anything you want, go for it". You might get a scar on your face, a bee sting in your belly button or a pinch at your soul, but those pains lead you to where your going. I hear her voice in everything I do every day. I never thought I would run and co-own a company with multiple offices, raise a family, including step kids, a dog, cat, and the longest living beta fish ever, but I never thought I couldn’t and that is the difference. If I can capture in my life just a small amount of her as a role model, I’m grateful.

Q> How did you decide on your career? Or did it decide on you via some event or signature moment?

Ellese Shell, head of production, New York> Growing up my parents and I often dreamt about my future. My dad always encouraged me to be a newscaster due to my interest in television and film, but I never felt comfortable enough in front of the camera. After I graduated from college I stumbled upon post production and it suddenly all made sense. It was the missing piece I never knew existed. I’ve always loved the industry, and I finally found my voice behind the camera. 

Amburr Farls, executive producer, Los Angeles> My career started at the peak of the dotcom era in San Francisco. I was an IT specialist at a few startups. I could speak tech and translate to laymen terms so I fell into the role of managing various IT projects. My long-time friend was a producer in advertising at the time and she told me that I’m basically doing her job, but what she was doing was cooler. The rest is history. I moved to LA and got hired as an ECD’s assistant for a local ad agency.  I learned everything I could by grabbing at any opportunity, working day and night, carrying coffees on set and observing the pros. Eventually, this same ECD gave me my first break and from there I made my way through the producing ranks not really taking no for an answer (I get that from my dad)… but of course, in the nicest way possible. I’m a Virgo so a lot of what is required of a producer came naturally to me and I just loved every second of it. I still do.

Q> What are some of the biggest agents or influencers of change when it comes to inclusion and equality? 

Deanne Mehling, executive producer, San Francisco> #metoo... For the first time in my career, I’m witnessing the most powerful movement of women’s rights and voices being shared AND heard at a national level. As the mother of daughters, the foundation of creating an equality based society and workplace is critical to our children’s future.

Sophie Hogg, executive producer, London> The issue of inclusion and equality is so wide ranging that I couldn’t hope to cover it all in one paragraph. There are a lot of women producers and, increasingly, more artists. Whilst things are changing, we need this to be complemented by making sure women STAY in the industry. Allowing mothers to keep working (should they wish) by maternity leave, flexible working and jobs shares, means that women are not just a percentage of the company but are actually allowed to keep progressing to take key management roles and show younger women that it can be done! I think not only giving opportunity in the first place but also supporting people to flourish is key whether you are talking about gender equality, greater inclusions of minority candidates into our industry, or any measure that ensures a greater diversity of people helping to create the stories we tell.

Q> What advice do you have for women getting into the industry now or who are in the early stages of their career?

Diana Cheng, head of production, Jogger> Try for anything and everything you have an inkling of interest in. Doesn’t matter if you think you’re under-qualified for the job, or don’t have quite as much experience as you think you need. Just submit your resume for anything that strikes your fancy, at worst they won’t reply, and at best you get the job! You never know where your resume may end up, and in whose hands, or at what stage in your life it’ll happen. But the more you put your name out there, the more you allow yourself to be open to possibilities. It’s all about giving yourself as much opportunity as possible, and sometimes timing will take over for you.

Lauren Hertzberg, managing director, New York> Find a mentor. Throughout your career, there is nothing better than having someone in your corner who has already learned from some of the same experiences that you may be encountering for the first time.  It’s such a gift to find someone who can help you navigate complex situations or offer guidance to achieve your goals. Technology and workflow will continue to evolve, but I still believe human interaction and connection are irreplaceable.  And with a mentor, no matter where you work or what your role is in a company you are always part of a team.

Annabelle Dunbar-Whittaker, head of production, Los Angeles> Look to the future. Starting off can seem like a lot of hard work for little payoff, especially in this world of instant gratification. Looking further down the line will help you get through the tough times.

Say yes to things. To meeting people, to challenges, to experiences. It's a very exciting time for women in film and the more you open up your world, the more the world will gift you with opportunity. 

Be nice to people. You never know what they are going through or how your paths may cross in the future.

Bebe Baldwin, executive producer, Austin> The biggest piece of advice I would give is to not let fear hold you back. If you have a dream, go for it with determination and passion. Realise that you don’t have to be the loudest voice in the room to make your point. You can be strong and subtle at the same time.  Let your hard work and intelligence do the talking for you. Do your homework and treat everyone with respect and compassion. Finally, be restless.  Don’t take what someone says as the absolute truth. Find yours. Challenge the norm, and don’t ever settle.

Work from Cut+Run US
H.O.R.S.E on a Horse
Essentia Hydroboost
Greatest Combination
Little Ceasars
US Days