20 for the 20th – Reel Career Profile Series: Shauna Townley
Shauna Townley is a Camera Operator, Stills Photographer and Cinematographer working on feature films, documentaries, and television series with over 20 years experience in Manitoba. She volunteered at the Winnipeg Film Group, studied film theory at the University of Manitoba and cinematography and lighting at Vancouver Film School. She has been fortunate to work on several recent Manitoba film productions such as Burden of Truth, I Knew My Murderer, Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story, and Somebody’s Someone: The Regina Louise Story.
When and how did you start in the media production industry?
In 1996, Dave Barber at the WFG connected me with my first job. It was a short film directed by Arlea Ashcroft, called Iris and Nathan. I volunteered as a set PA where I met DP, Micheal Marshall. He then recommended me as a camera trainee on Guy Maddin’s Twilight of the ice Nymphs where I officially entered the ICG 669 trainee program.
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I continued with the camera department. Since I was I child I wanted to get my hands on a camera and tell stories though this medium. I worked my way up the ranks and am currently working as Camera Operator and Stills Photographer.
What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
The cameras and lamps we use today are drastically different than when I first started. The shift from film to digital changed our workflow significantly in the Camera Department. The lamps we use now are digitized with the ability to dial in colour temps and are substantially more compact and versatile.
If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?
If I could go back and give myself advice it would be to seek out a mentor. Navigating your way in the industry can be intimidating and challenging at times. I feel I would have benefited from seeking guidance through a mentorship earlier in my career.
How did taking FTM training affect your career?
FTM training has benefited me with the knowledge and confidence to progress and succeed in my field. I highly recommend looking into the wide range of valuable training opportunities offered by FTM.
What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
Despite the high price tag, invest in some high quality winter and rain gear. We experience some extreme weather conditions on the job and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
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 inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni films. I’m in awe of his figurative compositions, obsession with colour and themes of isolation and the cost of modernity.
Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that you’d like to share with your colleagues?
I’m so grateful to have a career that I love right here in my home province. I love my film family – the support I’ve felt over the years has been tremendous and I’d like to thank you all for being there for me.
Is there a film technician or filmmaker that you would really like to work with and why?
I have yet to work with a female DP. I’d love to work with Rachel Morrison or Ellen Kuras. These ladies are pioneers as women working as Director of Photography and it would be an honour to collaborate with either of them one day.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
In ten years I expect to be working steadily as a Director of Photography.