Camera rolling! Working in a 'man’s world' is not that difficult, says Seychelles national television's only camerawoman
Vanessa Marie, the only camerawoman working at Seychelles sole national television, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation, SBC. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - While trend shows that most women prefer an 8 to 4 office job or choose to venture into what are often dubbed the most suited professions for women, such as teaching and nursing, some dare to be different.
Vanessa Marie originally from Anse Royale, a district in the south of the main Seychelles of Mahe is one young Seychellois woman who has taken the challenge to make it in a 'man's world'.
One of the very few women in Seychelles with knowledge of operating a professional camera, Marie is currently the only female camera operator employed by the island nation's sole television station, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation, SBC.
Currently living at Ile Perseverance a reclaimed island next to the main island of Mahe, the twenty-seven year old originally studied tourism and tour guiding at what is now known as the Seychelles Tourism Academy, after which her love for painting and art led her to study textile at the School of visual arts.
SNA caught up with Marie who also has a passion for writing poetry and short stories to find out what led her down the path she has taken and how she is faring alongside her male colleagues.
|Vanessa during a working trip to France is pictured filming near the 'Arc de Triomphe', one of the most famous monuments in Paris. (Vanessa Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: Did you always dream of becoming a camera operator or was it a convenient option to venture in this field of work?
VM: I had just completed my studies at the time and was job hunting when I saw the advert on SBC [Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation- Seychelles national television] and it was very captivating. I then sent my CV [curriculum vitae]…and I was accepted. I was initially thinking of becoming a TV producer, but then decided to join the technical section. I don’t regret the decision at all.
Camera work is all about creativity, composition, having an eye for details, and patience. It is similar qualities that are needed to do art work. I never liked static office work. I always enjoyed being out on the field and being part of the adventure. Becoming a camera operator offered me just that.
SNA: What are the some of the difficulties you faced when starting out in the field?
VM: I was never a technical person, and at first it was difficult for me to start carrying a tripod, camera and doing video balance. Now, I carry a lighter camera and tripod and sometimes the sound equipment to all my assignments and I don’t find it heavy at all.
SNA: You studied tourism and tour guiding then visual arts specifically in the field of textile how come you did not opt for something more related to your studies?
VM: My graduation [from the School of Visual Arts] was two days after my birthday, March 05 and it was the best birthday gift I could receive at that time. When I got back home that day, I realized how much I could achieve even though I considered myself to be a reserved and quite timid young woman.
I knew though, that it's really hard to build a career doing art in Seychelles; you need capital to get your business started. Perhaps you can have more luck doing tourism related products. The majority of students graduating choose to go into other fields, but I chose something related to art, which is filming. That way I get to mix composition, color and contrast, to create a good image.
SNA: How would you describe your five years of working experience so far?
VM: I started off enrolling on a six-month training course starting from the June 1, 2010, in the SBC learning centre to obtain a basic certificate in journalism. My experience built up as I started going out on various assignments.
My male colleagues helped me out a lot in the beginning and as time went by I learnt to be more creative when filming either for hard news, programmes, live events and video clips.
I have also had the opportunity to visit places I never thought I would go to.
SNA: What are some of your most interesting assignments so far?
VM: I have been working at the SBC for a little over five years now and I have been to several interesting assignments. I visited France twice and I enjoyed seeing the Eiffel Tower, staying in the country side and taking a boat ride along the river Seine [one of France’s longest rivers] to view the architectural and historical landmarks along its banks.
|During her five years at SBC Vanessa has been on several overseas assignment including France, Tanzania and Reunion island. (Vanessa Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: Apart from France what are some of the other countries you have had the chance to visit thanks to your job?
VM: My first overseas assignment was in Tanzania, followed by France when Seychelles was making the historic step to install the fibre optic cable. My other trip to France was when Air Seychelles resumed flights to Paris. Most recently I was part of the team dispatched to Reunion island for the Indian Ocean Island Games.
SNA: Earlier you mentioned getting help from your male colleagues, which surely are in majority, with you being the only female camerawomen at SBC at the moment. How is it working in a 'man’s world'?
VM: Working in a 'man’s world' is not that difficult. I am treated well and don’t feel there is any preferences, I talk and work with all other males in the department. At first, especially during my training, it was a bit strange. I would sometimes get comments like “she is so skinny, how can she carry a camera and the tripod?” But with the support of my colleagues and instructor I quickly adjusted.
|All of Vanessa's camera operator and other technical colleagues including sound men and lights men are males. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: As the person behind the camera do you sometimes get emotional about certain assignments you go to?
VM: Oh yes. For example when I film court cases, sometimes I feel scared and hesitant to film certain things because you sense the emotion of the family members. Some would look at you with anger and some would even swear at you. In some cases, I might even know the accused or their families and this makes me a bit emotional. But I don’t let it get to me too much and I keep my professionalism.
Apart from that, I have filmed other tragedies such as locations of tragic deaths, accidents and fires but I have never been faced with a dead body.
SNA: Do you feel you are being respected for what you do?
VM: Yes I do get recognition for my work and a lot of people encourage and congratulate me for it. Even my past teachers are astonished when they see the timid Vanessa they used to know, out in the crowd with a camera. Even my brother who is studying at the School of A level Studies, wishes to display the same level of commitment in what he does.
I myself feel proud for what I do because it takes a lot and it is very challenging. It involves shift work that at times may disrupt ones personal and social life, especially when there is a lot of events happening at the same time...sometimes you cannot even enjoy your weekly day off, but I am already used to it and I am not really bothered.
This job is one which requires patience, good team spirit and communications skills and you should also be able to accept both good and bad criticism in order to do better.
|For Vanessa camera work is all about creativity, composition and having an eye for details. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
SNA: How do you see yourself in five years time?
VM: I want to spend another five years or more at the SBC, because I want to be the only female camera operator with the longest time of service. I also want to have my own personal camera very soon. On a personal note, I would like to have met a companion, get married and have my first child. I also wish further my studies in the future, perhaps undertaking a management course.
SNA: Would you encourage more women to join the profession?
VM: Yes, I would like that because apart from being able to visit various places it is a very interesting job. It allows you to develop as an individual. Your personality and attitude change as you gain more experience in the field. I would encourage other women in Seychelles not to be afraid of joining the ‘man’s world’, let’s show them that we have our place in the society. I also salute the other women who are for example bus drivers and doing other jobs that are normally considered men's territory.