As of October 2021, only 8% of IATSE 856 members in the Lighting Department are women and only 2% of the Grip Department. FTM is working to attract more underrepresented workers through our various workforce development programs and Jenni is a great success!
After attending FTM’s Lighting and Grip Bootcamp in 2018, Jennifer “Jenni” Walder, found her calling in the lighting department. Check out her Reel Career Series Profile below:
Hi, I’m Jenni and I work in film! I’ve been doing this full time for 2 and a half years now, and hope to be doing it for much longer. I love the outdoors, and being active. When I’m not at work I’m hiking with friends and my 4 dogs, kayaking or spending time with my family.
While my first love is the lighting department, I’ve started falling for the grip department in the past year. If you see me onset, I’m probably sporting my #TinyGang hoodie or reading in between setups!
When and how did you get started in the film and media production industry?
I got started in May of 2018! My landlady at the time, Roxanne, worked in film, and told me one day that I worked a lot and made no money, how would I like to work a lot and make pretty good money? Her daughter Ami recommended FTM’s Lighting and Grip Bootcamp, and during it João had me set up a light as part of his section, and I just remember the feeling of ‘This is it. This is what I want to do.’
I was given Aaron’s (Merasty) phone number and harassed him until he hired me!
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why? What do you like most about it?
Right now I’m kinda bouncing between LX and Grips, and really enjoying the differences in both. Both are challenging and rewarding in their own ways, but what I’ve been loving the most about the two together is a stronger understanding of how the equipment from each department comes together to create the desired result and the knowledge of how to do that more efficiently and effectively. For me, it feels like being able to see more pieces of the puzzle.
What advice would you most like to give to your past self?
Remember to make time for yourself outside of work.
It’s so fast-paced and intensive, and while that’s what I love about the industry, it’s also important to find time to be still.
What advice would you give to somebody just starting out in the industry?
Listen to what’s going on around you. Ask questions. Be on time. Be eager to learn. Build connections with those around you, because the friendships you build is what will get you through the long days and nights. The best thing about film is the people!
If you could work on a project with anyone in the film industry, who would it be and why?
I really enjoy A24 films as a genre, so a chance to work on one of those would be very cool!
What films, TV, or books inspire you or get you excited about your work?
I like a little of everything? Anything that explores the human experience, dark or light, in a way that’s visually beautiful is probably going to be right up my alley. Recently I very much enjoyed Dune.
Why is learning and training important?
Because to grow, you have to be adaptable. The technology, the technique, the approach; all that is always changing either with time or with new DPs and the more ready you are for whatever comes your way, the better. Our industry is expanding rapidly and we need our technicians to grow with it.
What do you like most about working in the Manitoba film industry? Is there anything in your mind that sets it apart?
The people! I’ve met my most amazing and inspiring friends while at work.
I’d also say the Manitoba industry is unique in that there’s so much opportunity to try different departments and positions, and that just keeps expanding as our industry does.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Honestly? I don’t care what I end up doing as long as I’m still challenged, still learning and still excited to go to work every day. That’s the Big Thing to me.
FTM is a non for profit charity of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program through the Department of Economic Development and Jobs. FTM builds a highly skilled and adaptable film industry workforce 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.