Key Tips on Women Breaking Down Barriers: Katie Pyne
As HC&F celebrates Women’s History Month, we got a chance to sit down and chat with accomplished filmmaker Katie Pyne. After directing over 70 shoots and working with prolific companies such as CNN and Discovery Channel, Katie has the credentials and experience to make it into any director’s seat. However, as she continues on her filmmaking journey, what’s been her most surprising obstacle in getting to that prestigious position?
The answer is both simple and complicated: Her gender.
Even in 2021, there continues to be a disturbing disparity between men and women in the Hollywood film industry, particularly regarding women as directors. “I progressed naturally into the director role as part of my career growth. Before that it honestly didn’t occur to me that being a woman would be a disadvantage. Coming from the South, I assumed Los Angeles would be more progressive about empowering women in the industry. But it turned out that Hollywood was actually behind the curve.”
When Katie moved from Atlanta to LA several years ago, she suddenly ran up against companies who seemed wary of trusting women with big budget projects. Even after she became a director on various sets , junior crew members would sometimes assume she was a makeup artist or an actress.
However, Katie used these experiences to sharpen her skills.
“Being underestimated just because of who I am was actually new for me in the professional arena. So I thought, okay what are the rules of this game? Once I figured those out, I used them to navigate getting hired and working on set,” Katie said, carrying a modest but determined demeanor. “When I discovered to what extent the cards were stacked against women directors, that just made me more motivated to keep pressing forward and prove that my voice is just as valuable.”
Katie has always been passionate about telling stories that can bridge cultural divides by building empathy. “I became a filmmaker because I want to tell compelling true stories that make people feel something. Helping people walk a mile in someone else’s shoes through film is such a powerful tool for connecting people from different backgrounds.”
So, how does she utilize this tool?
“My background in documentaries and news prepared me for anything.. I came from unscripted projects with a thousand different potential outcomes to a scripted environment where we have control over every aspect of a scene. I have to pay attention to every detail as a director, so I’ve learned to constantly listen to my crew and closely observe everything happening on set. Since then, I’ve grown in confidence and I’ve become really qualified to tackle any type of project.”
Katie’s attention to detail has only propelled her career as she stays busy with shorts, commercials, and other projects. Now, she’s ready to share insight with women looking to break into the industry.
“Most importantly, don’t be quiet when you’re uncomfortable,” Katie affirmed. “Speak up when someone is treating you disrespectfully. Keep networking and building relationships, and when you get the chance to direct, remember that it’s so important to be a diplomatic team leader. If we’re not having fun on set, we’re not doing it right.”
Currently, Katie is in development on several narrative and documentary film projects, working as a Creative Producer on a true crime show, and she also is particularly passionate about her upcoming short film. Based on a personal experience, the short focuses on a woman who conceals an emotional breakdown from co-workers after receiving an unexpected phone call from a past abuser. Katie’s still deciding on distribution routes, but she’s excited to get it out to the world.
“It’s not an accident that I’m here. I’m here for a reason and I’m pushing forward.”
HC&F can’t wait to push forward with her and see what she accomplishes next. If you want to see more of Katie’s work and connect with her, check out the links below: