Reel Career Profile Series: Kerri Webster

When and how did you start in the media production industry? What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?

I was a stay-at-home mom (going on about 10/12 years), watching the morning news while getting the boys ready for school. We were having breakfast and saw a segment saying they had an open casting call for kids for a TV series. They wanted to go check it out, so we went. Two of my boys were selected to do continuity BG. While spending many days on set, production asked me if I would be BG. I said sure since I was there anyways. Why not. Due to my availability, I started doing BG regularly, which soon led to stand-in jobs. I was asked to BG wrangle one day on a big BG day since I was familiar with the paperwork and process. The 1st AD on the film asked if I wanted to learn how to set BG. And because I was BG, I understood how the setting process worked, I caught on quickly. The rest is history. I haven’t stopped working since (well, covid put a bit of a halt). My first day as a Set PA was October 2019. Now I’m currently working as a 2nd AD almost four years later.

I do sometimes get asked how I’ve moved up so quickly. I think common sense has A LOT to do with it. The street smarts that school doesn’t teach you—also, the lack of ADs in Winnipeg. We need to train more. Also, being a mom has helped me a lot with how to organize, stay organized, and act quickly on my feet, and also the years of lack of sleep helped.

If you could give your past self advice, what would it be?

The advice I would give to my past self? Keep doing what you’re doing. Cause what you are doing now will lead you right where you are supposed to be.

What advice would you give to someone starting off in the media production industry?

Because I come from the background world, I’ve made many connections with other background performers. I would get approached asking how they might be able to become crew. I tell them to take the FTM courses. After they complete them, reach out to me, and I’ll see what I can do to help. Background is a great way to get your foot in the door. You can observe all the different positions that films come to be. Then take the job opportunities that come your way. Work locations (sometimes not the most glamourous job), work as a daily, work as BG. You stand out by working hard and having a good work ethic; that’s how you move up.

Why is learning and training important?

The FTM courses are great and helped me immensely in becoming an AD. I went into the job knowing who does what, what I’m supposed to do, the expectations, and the safety. It gave me the confidence and knowledge of how a set is run and my role in it.

Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that youd like to share?

It’s kinda funny how life works. I would never in a million years think I’d be working in film. As a little girl writing in my diary about how I wanted to become an actress or work in film. I just wanted to be a part of that world. I thought you had to move to Hollywood to do that. Who would have thought, right out my front door was the place to be?

Film life came to me just at the right time. If it came any sooner, I don’t think I would have had my three boys. My family is everything to me. My film family has become a close second.

Is there a project out there that you would like to work?

I’d love to work on a period piece, not the 80s, more like the mid-1800s. I’m a sucker for a good Victorian movie.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now? 

Where do I see myself in 10 years? Good question. I started in this industry later in life, so we will see how the body holds up. But I’ll definitely be a 1st AD within a year or 2. I’d love to have the opportunity to work in a different province, even a different country.

I’m proof that it doesn’t matter your age or your history, go for it. Life is about experiences; how do you know if you’ll like it or will be any good at it if you don’t at least try?

FTM is a non-for-profit charity and member of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program (through the Department of Economic Development and Jobs). FTM conducts workforce development and training to build a highly skilled and adaptable film industry to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates with members of the film and television industry to identify the training needs within the community.