20 For the 20th – Careers Profile Series: Carrie Wilkins
Carrie has been involved in the film industry for the past 2 years, first as a partner in UNIT204 and then joining as a member of the DGC. The last 30 years of entrepreneurship in various industries have provided Carrie with a deep understanding on effectively improving operations to positively impact growth and profit, while creating a positive and empowering workplace culture.
When and how did you start in the media production industry?
I started in the film industry as a service provider in September 2017 when my brother, Jason Wilkins, asked for my help growing his new business, UNIT204 Production Services. I had a full-time career in the business/financial sector and for the first six months worked both jobs. After spending time with the technicians who were helping us realize the vision for UNIT204, I started to consider moving into the film industry full-time. In May of 2018, I was offered a Production Coordinator position on a Lifetime movie and took a leave of absence from my career…and never went back!
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
As a technician, I work primarily as an APC and also in the accounting department, when needed. My goal is to work as a Production Manager.
As a business owner, I own and operate UNIT204 Production Services with my brother, Jason Wilkins. The community of people involved with UNIT204 are the reason I am involved in the film industry. Listening and learning from them has given me the drive to ensure that the spaces within UNIT204 are technician-centric and provide a positive and safe atmosphere. I listened to the vision Jason had for UNIT204 and spoke to a lot of different crew members/technicians and heard many examples of the types of work environments in which they had been expected to work. Jason and the community of people who were involved with UNIT204 knew what needed to be done and why, they just needed someone with business experience to come in and help them. I won’t say the hours have been easy – there have been a lot of personal and professional sacrifices made – but I wouldn’t go back. I truly love my ‘film family’ and look forward to creating more spaces like UNIT204 and contributing to a culture of positivity and support.
What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
Even though I’ve only been in the industry a short while, I’ve noticed how much busier the industry has become since I joined. There is a shortage of infrastructure, space and crew, and this puts a lot of stress on the people. On the flip side, it seems to me that those who have worked in the industry for the past 20 or 30 years, are now able to breathe a bit easier knowing that work is steady. As we begin to recruit new crew members, I think the industry is able to sell this type of work as a viable, stable career option. Because of the influx of new crew members, organizations such as FTM will become even more important in ensuring the labour force has the training they need, and in helping develop new training programs that will assist the unions in developing their members’ skills.
How did taking FTM training affect your career?
After taking FTM’s mandatory courses to become a DGC permit, the next course I took as Intro Into Production Accounting. At that time, I was still working in the business/financial industry and was a Certified Financial Planner. I had a background in accounting and was interested in learning how film accounting differed. Aside from some valuable academic learnings, I was able to meet a number of like-minded professionals within the industry.
What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
I think the first bit of advice I would give is to find a mentor within your department who has been in the industry for a while and ask to learn from them. This can be a fast-paced environment with really long hours. Learning from and showing respect to those who helped build this industry to what it is today is, to me, a vital part of continued, positive growth.
The one thing I struggle with personally is finding balance. As I said, the hours are long and the work can be gruelling. Learning to find the time for self-care while working can be tough, but it’s also important. Planning for time off between shows also seems to be an important strategy in staying healthy.
What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you? How about anything new you’ve been into?
I’m not really a ‘movie’ person, so to speak. When those around me talk about this director or that actor or such and such movie, 99% of the time I have no idea who/what they’re talking about. I am inspired by helping others to reach their goals. I believe this can be done through positive communication and being kind. I read a lot of books about listening, communication, leadership, human nature, etc. My involvement and interest in this industry is based on all those things. I might be one of the few people who have no desire to write or direct! LOL!
Is there a film technician or filmmaker that you would really like to work with and why?
Our dream at UNIT204 and at our production company, Hydraulic_Content, is to make projects with those who we consider family…the people that Jason has been working with for the last 18 years…and with whom we share our space and values.
Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
Ten years from now I see myself working as a Production Manager and producing projects that highlight the local talent in Winnipeg and other parts of our province. I see myself working as part of a group of people managing spaces such as UNIT204 that reflect the high-caliber of talent here and provide a safe and professional atmosphere for all levels of production crew to work within.