Anaisa Visser

Film industry
Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver, Canada
Faculty of Arts

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

My work is a bit hard to explain, but as my day job, I work as an independent contractor in the film industry, usually as a Production Office worker or as an Assistant Director. In my spare time, I write and direct films (I spend a lot of time on grant applications). I develop concepts and stories, flesh them out and put together proposals, scripts, budgets, in the hopes of securing funding. When something is greenlit, I work with producers, actors, and collaborators to make a finished filmic product.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

My day job was not really affected by my education - I learned it by getting opportunities to work and shadow others. My career aspirations are in writing and directing, and doing the program at UBC helped me gain confidence in my writing, directing and producing skills in film. I worked closely with my instructors to really find my own voice as a writer and director. I learned a lot about the film industry and about myself, and I am very grateful to have had that experience.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I'm going to respond mostly about my career, which is not really my "position" as it's not your typical employment situation. The main challenge is the lack of funding and resources available to me for any given project. I have to do so many hours of unpaid work to get ahead. I spend a lot of time building connections and doing my own professional development. Getting to make a project is an amazing reward, but the countless hours of work to get to that point are difficult to find while also working full-time in the industry to pay the bills. This industry is competitive and ruthless, and trying to carve out a piece of it that I can put towards my own values, in my own way, is always challenging. I keep learning that those who manage to make their art in the context of what is essentially a business-focused industry are those who are very persistent in proving their worth and those who build good relationships with others.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

It is, although it doesn't move as quickly as one would like! This year marks ten since my BFA, and while I have learned a lot and grown a lot, I feel like there is still a long way to go.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

I love school, it's an environment that encourages me to do what I love most - learn. grow and experiment. I wanted to try my hand at teaching and to give myself a couple of years to really work on my own projects and learn to develop them.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

My instructors and peers at UBC were all so inspiring and talented. I also felt lucky to be among the last to study there pre-Covid, as in my last term the pandemic began and I had to do some of the term and courses from home. I wrote my thesis in my bedroom, when I would have liked to be in one of UBC's amazing spaces.

How did the graduate degree at UBC help you achieve your career and/or personal development goals?

It gave me a sense of direction, and it built up my confidence. It gave me two very inspiring mentors, who were my thesis advisors. And it gave me a really good understanding of how to teach.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

I've always had one goal in everything I do - to learn something. In that context, even failure can feel like a success, because we learn from failure. So I keep trying, and working to improve myself and my work.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

As an artist, I am constantly inspired by other art - we're not creating in a vacuum, everything we make is in conversation with other artists and their work. Work hard, but also find your people and your community, be supportive instead of competitive. The joy in art comes from the community, and your people will hold you up when things are less than easy.


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