Written by: Maria Shamkalian
Wendy is a veteran film and media professional. Along with an amazing Philly documentary team (SHOUT OUT to Andrew Ferrett, Rachel Stewart, Paul Van Haute, Monique Impagliazzo, Jon Kohl, Sila Sherman, Dan La Porta, Katie Arnold et al), she recently won two Mid Atlantic Emmy awards for best Documentary (Sisters in Freedom as Director/Producer) and for Historical/Cultural Special (Philadelphia: The Great Experiment as Segment Producer). Wendy started out in film as a Production Coordinator on the features Dumb and Dumber (the original!), Se7en, American History X and Blade II, to name a few.
She’s a graduate of Penn State with a degree in theater management, the perfect launching pad to an successful career as a Production Stage Manager before her switch to film.
1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?Produced the Philly portion of two episodes for the NBC television series THIS IS US. Accomplished with the assistance of The Greater Philadelphia Film Office. We would not have been successful without their help!
2) How did you get started in the film industry?After working freelance on a New Line produced feature film I got a staff job as an in-house coordinator. There were a lot of people who helped me along the way and it’s my great pleasure to now do the same for young filmmakers.
3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania? I’m so happy to be back after many decades away – this is a fabulously lively and photogenic city with a growing crew base and amazing home grown acting talent.
4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?In my documentary work I have been so lucky to film in amazing colonial era buildings and 19th century estates. Anywhere along the Schuylkill or the Delaware is pretty fantastic too.
5) What do you love the most about your job?
Facilitating the creation of interesting and important media.
6) What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?Being in a small room with Pope Francis with just a handful of other people at St Charles Seminary in Wynnewood. And – I’m usually not star struck but I had a hard time catching my breath while I stood shoulder to shoulder with Robert DeNiro, showing him how to use a satellite phone.
7) What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?If you are strong, forthright and decisive, you’re considered a "b****". Whereas a man would be considered a leader.
8) What is your advice for other women in film?
Let your voice be heard. Do the work, don’t be discouraged. BE KIND. Help others.
9) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
I have a few things in the works that aren’t yet greenlit – I’m available!
10) PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?Please look at the last 5 years and how much Pennsylvania film production has exploded. Film and television projects will only consider filming in the state if we have a healthy tax incentive program. Thanks to PaFIA, elected officials have the real data on how the tax incentive program continues to expand what is now a thriving media production industry in PA
11) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
Work, work work. Create you own opportunities. Check out PhillyCam and learn some behind the camera skills! Go see theater, opera, ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as film. Support other artists!
12) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
Always be learning a new skill. Reach out to industry professionals – you’ll be surprised at their willingness to share their knowledge.
13) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
Move on quickly from disappointments – try not to spend too much time stressing about the job you didn’t get. Focus on the next opportunity.
14) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
Philadelphia directed by Jonathan Demme
15) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
In Philadelphia it’s all the documentary work I did with History Making Productions . In my career it was- the year I spent working on Around the World in 80 Days with Jackie Chan. We shot in Thailand and Germany. I met so many fantastic people on that job who remain friends to this day.
16) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
To help bring great jobs to Philly! (and finish that script that is banging around in my head!)
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 email@example.com