Bio: As a PhD candidate in the Equity Studies program, I research relationships between media production education, media work cultures, and systems of oppression. My work engages critical and decolonial pedagogy, social justice education practices, critical whiteness studies, feminist and queer theory, and media and cultural studies. I work as an instructor in the Communication Studies, Motion Picture Arts, and Women’s and Gender Studies departments at Capilano University. Previously, I was a film and television producer and executive for Canadian and international productions.
You have worked in film production before and taken a critical stance toward media studies. Can you tell us how your journey has evolved?
When I worked as a media executive, I experienced and witnessed many of the challenges, abuses, and inequities of media industry work that many people are now aware of through recent news reporting and social media movements. The problems exist in front of and behind the camera as they are embedded in a work culture that media studies scholar Julie Frechette calls “go along to get along” (2019). So it has not been part of media work cultures to question, speak up about, or refuse work practices. It has also not been acceptable for media workers to challenge offensive, harmful, and/or stereotypical acting or writing choices because these are considered off-limits to anyone but the studios, broadcasters, and key creatives like the director, writer(s), or producer(s).
After over a decade of working in the industry, I was recruited by some teacher-practitioners to teach courses in media producing in a newer hands-on film degree program at Capilano University. They told me the purpose of the program was to train students to do better in the industry. What I discovered, once I began teaching, is that teacher-practitioners have all kinds of different ideas about what media-production students need to learn. Some instructors prioritize teaching students to endure work hardships, but for many it is about teaching detailed craft skills and new technologies. For others like me, it is a priority to educate for the purpose of challenging how media work cultures are constructed in harmful and oppressive ways. Given the lack of industry standards for media production education, and the wide variety of educational approaches I have witnessed through eleven years of teaching, early on I was really bothered that teaching future media workers might happen uncritically. It left me with a sense of unease that media teaching and learning approaches might reproduce these harms too. These concerns led me to start researching media production education practices through an equity studies lens.