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Women's Business, a captivating short from Austria by an all-women crew.

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Women's Business is a short story about a diverse group of people who, at first glance, do not have much in common, but who are all confronted with the modern conflicts of being or being perceived as women, whose paths cross in the ladies' room of a club one evening, one way or another. The short movie touches upon topics such as gender identity, sexuality, civil courage, sexism, drug abuse, and violence against women.



Thank you Women's Business Team for being here with us, this is probably the biggest interview I did, there are so many talented women here today, so let me introduce them to you, we have:


Jennifer Gartler, director.

Tanja Ploner, producer and Unit Production Manager,

Claudia Ploner, the screenwriter.

Katja Reichör, Assistant Unit Production Manager and Location Manager

Helene Sorger, Assistant Director and one of the showrunners of the series “it’s my Fucking Story”,

Livia Ringl, Director of Photography, Colour Grading, and VFX .

Sophie Schaller, Gaffer.

Lena Kroemer, Sound.

Leonie Schönfeldinger, Sound Design and Soundtrack.

Elisabeth Ehrenhauser, Casting, 1. Assistant Camera and Editing.

Alexandra Bogner, Production Design and Graphic Design.


Photo by Patricia Melicha

It's such a pleasure to have you here today, tell us a bit about yourself.

TANJA: We are a team of over 30 women from all over Austria that came together to realize the short film Women’s Business. Most of us are studying at the University of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten, Lower Austria. However, we are in different levels as well as different study programs.

We had women from Media Technology, Media Management, and Digital Media Production.

But we were also able to win women from outside the university context. Most of us are

between 20 and 25 years old and for some, this was the first time they had their respective

position in a film project.


Jennifer, when did you discover this was your career path?

JENNIFER: I think I discovered this path when I first started making my own films. I found a lot of joy in bringing my ideas to life. I guess I always enjoyed doing some creative work.

Tanja Ploner and Jennifer Gartler Photo by Helene Sorger

Which filmmakers inspired you?

JENNIFER: The filmmaker who inspired me the most through my childhood was Tim Burton. Especially his older movies, like Sweeney Todd or Sleepy Hollow. Other filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Greta Gerwig also inspired me. Shutter Island and Little Women are some great examples.


Why do they inspire you?

JENNIFER: All these filmmakers are great when it comes to storytelling. Especially Tim Burton inspired me with his moody and dark style. I like how he manages to express feelings and emotions through specific looks. These filmmakers tell stories with a deeper meaning that gets stuck in the audiences’ heads, and I really love this form of storytelling.



Photo by Patricia Melicha

Describe Women's Business, briefly.

TANJA: "Women's Business" is a nine-minute short film produced by students at the University of Applied Sciences St. Pölten. The story revolves around Sam, mid-20s, young, non-binary ... and alone in the ladies' room of a club. The film follows seven characters, all on the same evening, in the same club. We alternate between individual plots and stories. The depicted life situations of the women act as symbols and examples of the sexist, heteronormative imprinting of our society that is still behind everything. Sam leads through the evening, moderates, comments, and in the end, finds themselves in the tangle of the dance floor.


The name of your short fascinated us, how did you come up with it?

CLAUDIA: The obvious reason for the title “Women’s Business” is the location in the bathroom of a club, as women still experience public spaces but also private spaces differently compared to men.

The toilet in for example a club can therefore be seen as a safe space for women. Women’s

Business wants to portray the stories of women and show their everyday business, which is

often only referred to as “women’s business”, women’s topics when it should be everyone’s

business. Women’s Business wants to make people listen.

Photo by Patricia Melicha

What inspired you to create Women's Business? What is your main goal with this project?

TANJA: It has been a dream of mine for some time to experience an all-female crew. And since the end of my education at UAS St.Pölten was coming up, I thought: If I do not do it now, it might never happen. Because chances are very low that there will be an all-female crew “by accident” someday. One goal is of course to bring together young women in the film industry in Austria to learn from each other. But the project had other goals as well: Another big point is the topic of sustainability, which has now also arrived in the film business. Some decisions are rather financial decisions for us as students/no budget productions, for others we have actively decided: For example, it was decided from the outset that the set catering would be completely vegan. Crew and cast have been asked to bring a to-go mug for coffee/tea, a water bottle, and a to-go box and cutlery themselves. Travel was done by public transport (where possible), and in the case of equipment transport, an attempt has been made to avoid unnecessary empty cars through a sophisticated trip disposition system.

Respectful interaction was very important to us, which is why we had the professional

intimacy coordinator Katharina Haudum in the preproduction and on the set.


Such smart choices should be followed by everyone, you are a great example for the film industry. As you previously mentioned, your crew is all made up of women, which totally makes sense, seeing the topics of your stunning work. How was working in an all-women environment and what do you think is the best part of it?

KATJA: For me working in an all-women environment was only full of advantages. I had the feeling that we all respected each other and that we all welcomed the opinion of every person. No one wanted to be the only boss whose opinion is the most important. What is more, we really had an intimate atmosphere on set where we could talk about all our feelings without being not respected.


How did you all come up together? What started this collaboration?

TANJA: The project was initiated by me at the beginning of 2022, with the aim of bringing together young women in the film industry in Austria. I also hope that the cooperation and mutual support will continue beyond the end of the project. A very big point is the fact that this is a young talent development project. Everyone involved is at different levels of knowledge and experience. But the project should also offer women the chance to try things out in a protected environment, and our goal is to learn from and with each other.


Helene, shall we expect Women's Business to become something bigger? Do you want to expand these characters' storylines?

HELENE: As we have received a lot of positive feedback even before the festivals, it was decided to expand the topic. We've developed the outline of a mini-series called it’s my Fucking Story out of the short film and we've already shot the first episode, where we delved deeper into Sam's storyline. That was really fascinating and so far on paper, we've laid out all the details for the other characters as well. So, the ideas and stories would be there, and I'd love to work again with the cast and crew. Let's see what the future will bring.



Photo by Patricia Melicha

Livia, we noticed an incredible cinematography, the short's look is impeccable. What was the process behind this beautiful cinematography?

LIVIA: First of all, thank you for your kind words. The initial intention for the overall film’s look and feel was to underline the inner struggle of each character by using a different kind of lens for each scene. Especially the series “Euphoria” as well as the movie “neon demon” had a big influence during the process of finding the right look for this film. For more stressful scenes such as the part where one character struggles to keep her consciousness, an especially wide lens was used, to create a weird and stretched-out face and overall look.

Photo by Patricia Melicha

What was the biggest challenge for you?

SOPHIE: This project was my first real experience as a department head, so I had to learn how to delegate tasks to others and lead a team on set. Being confident in your plan but still able to adapt and make quick decisions on set, depending on what works and what doesn’t, is also a tough balance to strike. But these are the kinds of situations you can learn a lot from, so I’m grateful for that opportunity.


We think producing this short wasn't easy, are there any aspects of it that you want to share

with us?

TANJA: One of the biggest challenges was putting together the crew: On the one hand, all the women are immediately enthusiastic and enormously motivated, so there is an interest and willingness to support each other. On the other hand, it is difficult to fill especially leading positions with women. There are simply fewer women in the industry. And what's even sadder is that many don't dare to become head lighting technicians or camerawomen, for example, even though they have just as much experience and knowledge as their male colleagues. As everyone was doing this “for free” next to her university stuff and work, finding a date to shoot the film was harder than I initially thought. Thank God I had a production department that coordinated everything perfectly.


Totally agree, women still struggle in most positions, and we are so happy to see women taking their deserved spot, especially in this industry.

On a lighter note, what's a fun fact about your short.

HELENE: We used to have this tradition that whenever a new piece of information was posted in our crew's WhatsApp group, everybody would send a weird or unusual emoji as a kind of confirmation "information received, read and understood". I've seen everything in this WhatsApp group, from dragons to ice cream to coffins, you name it.


Photo by Patricia Melicha

You come from Austria, how is the filmmaking environment in your country and what would you bring to it?

LENA: Honestly, in my opinion, Austria is far behind with many standards in filmmaking. Also, for young people like us, it’s hard to even get into this industry since it’s so small and you almost only get a chance by knowing someone who is working there. I personally am looking forward to making films in other countries like England, but I hope our generation can change the closedness of the Austrian film industry for the better.


Your short is also a great representation of the LGBTQ+ community, what's the message you want to send to the queer community and why is it so important for you?

JENNIFER: You are heard and you are as important as everybody else. With our film, we wanted to represent the queer community and give them a place where they can freely express themselves without judgment.


What's the best part of your job, what's your favorite step in the process?

LEONIE: The best part of my job as a soundtrack producer is clearly that I can live out all my creativity. I love how music supports all the emotions in a movie and how it is one of the last steps to make it feel complete. It may sound stupid but my favorite step in the process is to be rejected. Although it sometimes was frustrating when the director rejected my songs in the end something even better was the result of it, and I loved working with our director Jennifer Gartler.


Photo by Patricia Melicha

Elisabeth, as a casting director, when it comes to the casting process, what was your aim? How was the experience?

ELISABETH: My aim in casting for this short film was to find performers who could embody not only the appearance but also the character and personality of their respective roles. It was particularly important for us to ensure that the chemistry between the actresses in the pair scenes - Enya & Bella and Amira & Giulia - was right. Women's Business was the largest project for which I have conducted the casting so far. After the first "elimination", my biggest challenge was to be able to see as many combinations as possible for the roles of Enya & Bella and Amira & Giulia without keeping the applicants waiting unnecessarily. As you can see, the outcome was quite successful in the end!


What would you say to someone that wants to start this path as you did?

ALEXANDRA: I think if you really have a passion for production design and creating stunning pictures and worlds, the one most important thing is to just do it. Sadly, there is no real education for production design in Austria, so I think the best way is to go into some other schooling for film and try to get to know people in the industry and again just do it. Try to be in as many projects as possible and give your all, so you'll be remembered.

Photo by Patricia Melicha

What do you regret and what would you have wanted to know earlier?

ALEXANDRA: Since Women's Business was my first production design job, I think I could have done so many things better. I definitely could have planned more but in the end, it turned out great and I wouldn't change anything, to be honest.


What's your dream project?

JENNIFER: I would not say I have a “dream project”. Working with a great team, having fun, and being able to tell stories with a deeper meaning is what I would personally call my “dream project”.


Who would you suggest this short to, and why?

JENNIFER: I would suggest this short film to all people who may struggle with problems like gender identity, fear of judgment, or self-acceptance. What we’re trying to tell is, that people with those problems are not alone, their problems matter and deserve to be heard.

I also believe that our film can reach a wide audience because it shows problems that

women have to face every day. Therefore, our film can be seen as some sort of wake-up call

for everybody who watches it.


What do you expect from the future? What do you hope it will bring you on a professional

level?

TANJA: I hope that being a part of this project has helped everyone to learn from it, from the good as well as the not-so-good situations. Most of us have realized some projects, but, at least in the university context, this is a rather large project/crew. So, it offered the possibility to experience how it might be on a professional level. Film sets are quite hierarchical, so everyone had to learn how to communicate and whom to go to with questions. Similarly, some women having head positions had to learn how to lead a team.


Your short won different awards with us, but also other festivals, and we truly enjoyed this work, how is it going with festivals so far?

TANJA: The festival run has just begun, but we have had some success already. Currently, Women’s Business is/was nominated 4 times and won 4 times at your festival and got awards at TRILOKA INTERNATIONAL FILMFARE AWARDS, TakeOne in Innsbruck Austria, and the New York Cinematography Award.


Photo by Patricia Melicha

What's next for you?

TANJA: As mentioned, soon the pilot episode, developed out of the short film Women’s Business, will be finished. The goal is to submit it to festivals as well as send it out to maybe be picked up by a television or streaming company. We are currently in preproduction for our next short film "A few hundred million" (working title).

The team will be all-female again (this time we are over 40 women) and it deals with the topic of asthma. Pressure, constriction, panic - they just want to breathe. The lives of Ariela, Marlene and Brodi could not be more different, but one dramatic problem accompanies them all in their

everyday lives - the constant struggle for air.

The short film Women’s Business will be released towards the end of this year.


Thank you Women's Business team! We wish you the best!

For any info about Women's Business send an email to:

womensbusiness.film@gmail.com


FOLLOW THEIR JOURNEY HERE:

As the trailer is still not public, have a look at their behind-the-scenes here:




FOLLOW THE TEAM:
















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