03/07/2014 01:12 EST | Updated 03/07/2014 01:59 EST

Alex Cananzi Interview



Full name: Alex Cananzi

Job Title: Director

City: Toronto

Marital status: Single

Age: 21

When and where did you graduate from?

I'm two months away from graduating from Ryerson University's film program.

How and why did you choose this career?

Ever since I got a miniDV camera for my 12th birthday, I’ve been making movies. It really was a no brainer, I was born to entertain.

Is there a difference in the way men and women work and/or are regarded in this industry?

It goes both ways: if you’re a man you’re expected to haul-ass, and if you’re a girl, you’re expected to check art. That being said, there is gender overlap among all jobs on set and I've been lucky enough to work with insightful male production designers, intelligent female gaffers (head electricians) and everything in between.

But sometimes when my department keys bring on their own assistants, most of them can’t be bothered to shake my hand or answer my questions. Why? Probably because at 5'2", frizzy-haired, and wearing frumpy work sweaters, I don’t strike a particularly imposing figure. Most of them dismiss me for a production assistant but when camera starts rolling and I start directing, there is this big beautiful shift in the air when people realize I’m their boss.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Most of my film happens at my desk, where I write, re-write, and push paper. My most recent project took only a week to film, but a good six months of pre-production. I would love to be on set everyday, but the reality is I'm also working a part-time job to fund my projects and evenings spent getting my shit together.

How does your career influence or affect your personal relationships (romantic or otherwise)?

It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, pursuing a relationship with someone with a 9 to 5 job is impossible because you will never be home in time for dinner, and on the other hand, dating someone in the industry only doubles two conflicting schedules. When it comes down to it, the majority of my dating success comes from in-industry dating simply due to common interest and mutual understanding.

To be in such a fast-moving industry with projects and people entering and leaving your life so quickly, it has desensitized me to relationships. I’ve worked so hard to build a thick skin for myself, and to be expected to be open and vulnerable to someone is impossible. I can’t do it, and lately I fear I will never be able to do it.

Do you think there’s an ideal time to start a family for someone in your profession?

Ideal time? No. But there is a better time, and that’s when you have the means and resources to raise children. I would love to say 'not until you’ve achieved your dreams' but chances are I might not achieve that dream until I’m 50 and by then it would be too late.

What is the greatest source of stress in your life?

Pessimistic people and domestic chores.

How important is money to you, and why?

It really says something about the industry that when I’m told I’m getting paid, I become very skeptical of the production. I came into this industry knowing I would be poor for a very long time, and ready to accept my parents' basement for the next 20 years. If you’re in this industry for the money, you’re not meant to be here.

On the other hand, it’s quite frustrating. There are some extremely intelligent and talented people out there who have the potential to make some incredible stuff, but will never be able to because they don’t have the support system back home to help. You don’t get paid to make movies, you pay to make movies.

Have you had to deal with sexism in your career? Can you share some challenges and tell us how you dealt with it?

I definitely have dealt with men and women who assume I can’t do things based on my gender and personality, but when I’m the director and I’m the one with the money, you can be damn sure I’m not wasting it on bullshit. I have a black list of people I will never invite back to my set, and if I’m ever successful and looking for crew, well, that sucks for them.

What valuable mistakes have you made in your career?

You never want to be the smartest person on set, because if shit goes wrong and you can’t solve it, then your whole production is screwed.

Your advice to women today who want to work in this industry?

You need to be flexible, open minded, strong, and regardless of gender, you need a good set of balls.