SAE Film student works on Oscar nominated film

14 Mar 2017

SAE's reputation of producing world class creative talent is alive and well, with first year film student Stephanie Marti working on the Oscar-nominated La femme et le TGV. We recently taught up with the talented student to hear about her incredible journey. 

So Stephanie, tell us how did you get involved in this Oscar nominated film?

So I used to work for a film production company in Switzerland for three years and my boss there was the producer of La femme et le TGV. So he got me into the movie as we’d worked together for quite a long time.

That’s amazing and what’s the film about?

So it’s a Swiss-French production with Jane Birkin. She was a famous actress from back in the 70s. It’s actually a true story based in Switzerland about a woman who lived along a train line where one of the most famous Swiss trains used to drive through, and she would always wave a flag at the driver every single morning. The director Timo, he found that story in a newspaper and started a short movie out of it. It has a very nice ending and it’s just a beautiful movie.

That’s incredible. What was it like to work on?

It was a really great experience. We had a lot of foreign crew and cast, so sometimes the language was a bit of a problem, but we ended up all just talking English and it was like a big family because it wasn’t a big production and we’d work lond days sometimes. 

And what was your role on the film?

I was the Unit Assistant Manager. So basically I was in charge of helping the Unit Manager getting the stand-ins together, telling them where to go. But because it was such a small production you end up doing so much other things as well. Dealing with security. If an actor has a question you’d become the central point of information. It’s not like that on bigger productions. You have your one role and you’re not allowed to do anything else, but because this one was small I ended up doing so many other things.

Do you think more opportunities will flow from this experience?

Definitely, I’ve already had a job offer which I had to decline because I’m still studying, which is sad because it would have been a great production.  But it’s a well known TV series in Germany. It’s a great production and it would have been for a year. The pay was really good as well, but I told myself I wanted to finish my studies first before I start anything else.

How are you finding your studies here at SAE?

It’s good. Obviously I worked for three years before so I already had a head start, which has made things easier in a way. But I love the opportunities you get here, I mean there is so much good equipment here and they always tell you what events are going on in London. They get you the connections as well, but it is also a school with a lot of self-directed learning as well. Like no-one is going to do the work for you.

So how did you get your first job in Switzerland. Was it connections?

No that was actually really hard. And if I may say, I think it’s harder as a woman. I did have connections and I almost got another job but that didn’t work out. But I had roughly about 22 job interviews before I got my job and I remember in Switzerland, you always kind of ask “What didn’t work out?” or “Do you mind me asking about the person you decided to go with?” And they would say mostly that they decided to take a guy who had job experience, which I used to think was really unfair as it was internship roles for people who had just come out of high school. And it was always guys, and I had feeling it was because they thought guys had more technical understanding, but I had worked with a lot of programs in my high school years. And so I went for my last interview and I didn’t know how it was going to go, whether I’d give up, I don’t know, but I got it. It was my boss, the producer of  La femme et le TGV and it was actually only meant to be for a year my internship but I stayed on for three.

What’s the name of the company or the producer?

Yeah his name is Giacun Caduff. He’s well known in America as well. He worked on The Prestige and worked on some others with Terry Zwigoff. He was in the US for ten years and then came back to Switzerland to build his own business. From there, I got so many other projects, so many other opportunities. I got to work on a documentary for an American company who came to Switzerland for two months. That was a great experience.

What’s next for you?

Haha that’s a good question. This might sound arrogant, but I think with my CV right now I’d be able to get a job, I just don’t know where. I don’t know whether to go back to Switzerland with my boss, do I stay in the UK, do I try my chances back in the US where I have a few connections through my boss. So it’s just hard to know where. That’s what I’m trying to find out at SAE, where exactly and what exactly I want to do. Because I’ve done so much on set. I’ve been a runner, I’ve been a gaffer. I did all that sort of stuff. Director of operations too. But during my studies especially, I realised I might be going towards editing and post-production because that’s what I like most.

Did you get to meet and speak to Jane Birkin?

Yes, of course. I had a drink with her.

Amazing!

Yes it was the last day. It was the wrap party and so we went to this bar and she’s a - even though she’s had a lot of fame - she’s a very grounded person. She’s so nice. She has a very quiet aura around her. And she let everyone talk to her. It wasn’t like she felt she was in a high position. We all sat there in that bar having a drink with her.

So great. And finally, what was your reaction when you got the Oscar nomination?

I was really surprised to be honest, because Switzerland doesn’t get that a lot. Well it’s not completely Swiss, it’s also a French production and France has a great film industry. I was really surprised when they were telling me how high it was getting with the Oscar nominations. I kind of had to take a breath in. The fact that it’s gotten this far, we didn’t expect that at all. But we were all really happy for the director because he worked really hard on it and also the producer, my boss, he worked really hard as well, like 24/7.

SAE would like to wish Stephanie a huge congratulations for her role in the Oscar-nominated film. We can't wait to see what Stephanie does next. 

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