Sandrine Gressard, “Jack of all Trades!” wanted to be a ballerina. “Then, a stuntwoman, a PR specialist, a singer, a model, an actress. But, it often changed”, she said. It wasn’t until she discovered the film industry through her step-father that it became her focus. So as they say in the industry, “Let’s cut to the chase”.
“How did you find your way into the film industry?” MPM
“The film industry became my focus…by accident”, Sandrine began. Her biggest desire, at the time was to study public relations but her parents were against higher education. “Women shouldn’t need education… they simply need to find a wealthy husband!”, Sandrine recalled.
So, they found her an internship at a production company in Madrid hoping she’d fall in love with the owner’s son. “That was my opportunity to get away from them and make a name for myself in the industry” filming in Martinique, Luxembourg, Paris, and Barcelona. Sandrine proudly said she worked well and fast. And while recovering from a knee injury incurred on a film set she perfected her Spanish working various jobs in Madrid.
Sandrine did “so many crazy things working in that world”. Once, she was on a golf course in Spain filming a car commercial. The DOP (Director of Photography) said the grass wasn’t green enough. “This is in the late 80’s before all this CGI stuff”, she explained. Sandrine painted 10,000 square feet of grass with a special paint gun. “It took me 4 days. Absolutely nuts!”,she laughed. But after 5 years working in film, Sandrine decided to get her BA and moved to Montreal where she studied Law for 18 months before acquiring a double degree in IT and Management.
“How did being a MultiPod help you on set?” MPM
“Being a Multipod is an absolute necessity in the film industry if you’re working in Production, Transportation, Casting, or with the Director”, said Sandrine. She discovered the more skills you know the more you worked. It’s a business you need to be ultra resourceful, flexible, and, quick. “The requests that come at you every few minutes demand your brain be on alert at all times.” Sandrine used her general knowledge, creativity and street smarts to get the job done.
Tact, diplomacy, and a great sense of humour was also needed to navigate the rough environment. A film crew is under a lot of pressure due to time constraints, limited daylight, and budgets. People can lack delicacy when they talk to one another. But Sandrine loves the “uniqueness” of each set. “You get to do, see and experience aspects of life that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
“Who inspired you to want to be a Stunt Woman?” MPM
Colette Duval, Sandrine’s great aunt was an incredible woman and absolute rebel. “She hung out with soldiers during WWII and dodged bombs in Caen and Nantes. She was absolutely fearless and had the most amazing life”, Sandrine said. “I believe she still holds the World record for the highest dive opening her parachute at the lowest possible point. She jumped from 38,000 feet and opened her parachute at 950 feet blowing both her eardrums. Only to jump again a couple of weeks later”,Sandrine said amazed.
However, Colette Duval‘s life was short passing away in 1988 at age 60 after her third bout with cancer. Duval left a rich life working as a model and actor from 1958 to 1986.‘Sauve-toi, Lola a France/Canada co production would be Duval’s 9th film shot two years before her death. “She was one tough woman! I loved and admired her and was lucky enough to know her growing up. She was my role model and I was her biggest fan”, Sandrine confided. Sandrine likes doing crazy, dangerous and adventurous things. She said becoming a stunt woman would be fun. But her back issues need to be resolved before she can envision her dream. “I haven’t written it off completely”, Sandrine said.
“What is Girls Go Fly?” MPM
GIRLS GO FLY is a project Sandrine launched this year to educate primary and secondary school children in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick about careers in aviation and other non traditional fields like underwater welder, wing walker, aeronautical mechanical engineer, flight instructor, and air traffic controller.
“These careers are extremely interesting, offer great income, provide a very different environment, require multiple skills and broaden people’s horizons”, Sandrine said. “Do we want a society in which the majority of the population works in retail or at a coffee shop making minimum wage and being limited in their development? Or do we want our future generations to proudly embrace careers that stimulate their brains, spirits and overall culture?”, she added
Sandrine said, “Boys are welcome.”
Boys are always welcome to take part in the project. But after being in the aviation industry since 2001, she is astounded at the “tiny numbers of women“. And after becoming a glider pilot, she’s noticed little change. Sandrine wants to increase the number of girls and women in aviation by speaking at conferences through Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. Since 2013, she has noticed very little change to those numbers finding herself one of two women out of 60 pilots.
Sandrine doesn’t believe the lack of numbers (5.6% worldwide average) reflect women’s lukewarm interest in aviation. Sandrine thinks girls have very few role models to show them the way and thinks parents are afraid to see their daughters choose “dangerous” careers. Sandrine also believes girls and women are much tougher on themselves. “They feel they have to have everything figured out before they can choose such a career, whereas men just go for it with little introspection”, she finished.
“What does it mean to you to be a MultiPod?” MPM
“It means that I accept myself with all my on-going projects, ideas and professional endeavours. That I can be a pilot, public speaker, business coach all at once and have no qualms about it. I can feel proud to present myself as such even if people raise eyebrows in disbelief!”, Sandrine beamed.
“For the past 22 years, I have worked mainly in marketing, sales, customer service, training and coaching. I have run my own companies, worked for corporate Canada and held leadership positions in small and medium enterprises. Now, I am once again working for myself coaching entrepreneurs”, she added. And, while being a Stunt Woman still tops her list, she is slowly working towards becoming a singer. “I was a barmaid/singer in Spain but never succeeded at doing it professionally for a long period.”
Sandrine Becomes a member
Sandrine became a member of The Putty Tribe after watching Emilie Wapnick’s TED Talk, ‘Why some of us don’t have one true calling’. She admitted she was relieved and happy to discover she wasn’t a “total freak!” Emile struck a chord in Sandrine when she said, “It’s okay to not be a specialist. Made me realize that being a ‘Jack of all Trades’ is not a bad thing.”
Thank you Sandrine Gressard, “Jack of All Trades” for sharing your life with MultiPodMotivator. Our shared experiences and interest in the ballet, public relations, working in the film business, and wanting to do stunts on film sets are the common threads of our conversation. Thank you for reminding MPM it’s not a bad thing to be a “Jack of All Trades”!