Meet the women in video production defying the gender divide

Meet the women in video production defying the gender divide

Long has the video production industry been dominated by men, but three Australian women are defying this gender divide and forging successful careers for themselves.

By following their passion for the work, these women are living examples that it is possible to make strides in a video production career, with some making a name for themselves in niche areas of the business.

From heading up a production company to running their own business, these women in video production are bringing their own style of female representation to a traditionally male-dominated sector.

These are their stories.

Mia de Rauch: Owner and managing director, Flipswitch Media

Mia de Rauch: Owner and managing director, Flipswitch Media

Mia de Rauch made her start in video production at the age of 16, when she used her school holidays to fulfil work experience placements. By the time she graduated from university she was offered a production assistant role, and went on to work in television and on feature films.

After some time in the industry, de Rauch decided to take the leap and start her own business that focused on storytelling.

For more than 10 years, de Rauch has been the owner and managing director of Flipswitch Media, where she covers everything required to run her video production business including liaising with clients, writing proposals and quotes, scripting and preparing video shoots, and managing a small team of creatives.

The business has found its niche in producing social media and promotional videos, and in creating video e-courses for businesses.

Despite enjoying success in her business now, de Rauch admits she found it challenging to find her feet as a female in a largely male-dominated industry.

“I really struggled with the masculine energy. Sexual harassment wasn’t really discussed 20 years ago, when I started in the industry, and I came in really confused as to how to act,” she said.

“The main issue that I noticed was the higher up the chain you went, the less women you saw. As someone who has always wanted to be the ‘boss’ or the leader of a group, this concerned me. Whenever I spoke to someone about it, the reason was usually related to children. Women weren’t given the higher jobs or the same pay because they weren’t guaranteed to be available all the time.”

When it came to skills, de Rauch said there was always a divide – women were mostly in the office organising filming days and coordinating projects, while men were doing the physical work of filming and editing.

“I had really enjoyed camera work throughout university but felt that I wasn’t really allowed to continue using equipment once I moved into the professional world,” she said.

Thankfully, de Rauch is now experiencing the advantages of being a female in a man’s world.

“Many of my clients are coming to me because I’m female. Creating promotional videos or video e-courses can be really confronting, and many of my female clients feel safer and more comfortable with female energy behind the camera,” she said.

“I’ve seen males in this industry on many occasions really push a client out of their comfort zone because they see their ideas as ‘better’. It’s just not an energy that all people want to be around. I encourage more collaboration, allowing the client to be in a space that’s comfortable for them.”

In her role in video production, de Rauch hopes to inspire the next generation of women.

“If I can show younger women that they have options – they can work behind the camera in any form they want to – then that would be amazing,” she said.

Cristina Laria: Co-director and producer, Pure Production

For Cristina Laria, volunteering at community TV station Channel 31 offered an entry in the video production industry.

After studying a Bachelor of Communication (Media) at RMIT University, her volunteer role transformed into a paid gig with the station for five years. She then moved from broadcast production into video production when she joined Pure Production in 2014.

In her role as co-director and producer at Pure Production, Laria manages a team, liaises with clients, produces and runs video shoots, and oversees all post-production activities. The company produces video content for a range of purposes, such as social media, marketing, and promotions.

Despite being surrounded by women throughout her university course, Laria noticed just how male-dominant the video production industry was once she entered the workforce.

“My first job at Channel 31, we had the typical, all males in positions of power. There were definitely challenges and power struggles in that workplace, however I was always confident in my ability and not shy to speak up,” she said.

When she moved to Pure Production, she thankfully didn’t experience the male-female struggle, despite the workplace being mainly male-dominant.

“Being a woman in charge of three males has never been a challenge. They are all respectful in every way and I feel really lucky,” she said.

And that’s something Laria wants to make the upcoming generation of women video producers aware of – just because you see a lot of men working in the industry doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of it.

“While it is natural for men to gravitate towards the more technical roles, that definitely doesn’t mean females can’t do the work if that’s what they are interested in. They might be interested in the technical side of things, or the producing side of things like I am but, either way, the industry is one which is a good fit for either gender. There’s no reason why there should be more men, and with a woman at the helm, I hope Pure Production is a good example of that,” she said.

Her advice to other women looking to get into video production is to be aware that more men work in the industry, but don’t let it hold you back.

“I think it’s important to know upfront that it is a male-dominated industry. This was something that I had never really thought a lot about. I went from an all-girls high school to a university course that was predominately females. So, moving into the professional space, it was a big change.

“However, in saying that, it’s nothing to be afraid of – it’s a great challenge and being able to assert yourself is important. I think it’s just crucial to have that awareness going into it.”

Tenayah McLeod: Owner, McLeod Media

Tenayah McLeod: Owner, McLeod Media

Tenayah McLeod made an early start in a particularly niche area of video production – motorsports.

“I started when I was 16, making videos of my brother racing motocross. I then got into supercars through a volunteering program, and started networking and getting to know people. I really tried to make a name for myself in the motorsport industry in Australia,” she said.

In 2015, she began securing work and accumulating experience, and for the past three years has managed to make video production a full-time paid job.

At 23, McLeod has not only made a great start to her career, she has also forged a reputation as a specialist video producer in the motorsports industry. And this year, after working as a sole trader, she formally turned her business, McLeod Media, into a company.

It’s no secret that the motorsports industry is largely male-dominant, so how has McLeod navigated this as one of few women in this space?

“I grew up in motorsport and I used to spend my weekends at motocross tracks… so I have always been surrounded by a lot of men. It was never really an issue for me. I’ve never felt limited, but it [being a woman] has never been a significant advantage either,” she said.

However, one challenge that McLeod has faced is not having access to a lot of women mentors in the industry – they have been hard to seek out. So, she’s doing her bit to change that by offering guidance and leadership to other women new to the space.

“I’m making sure that anyone new who comes in feels comfortable. It could be very intimidating for someone who has never walked into a media centre at a racetrack and there’s one woman sitting there amongst 30 men,” McLeod said.

McLeod is also eager to dispel the myth that the only women involved in the motorsports industry are promo girls. Despite being in the minority, McLeod said she is starting to see more women enter various roles in motorsports, including engineers, mechanics, and media crew, which has been encouraging.

For women looking to get into video production or even a male-dominated industry, McLeod advises to follow your passion.

“Passion comes first. You will get to wherever you want to go if you love it that much.”

Sharon Green, editor

Sharon Green

Sharon Green is the founding editor of SHE DEFINED.

An experienced journalist and editor, Sharon has worked in mainstream media in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Forever in search of a publication that confronted the real issues faced by modern women, Sharon decided to create her own.