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How these RTA women are changing the conversation about sexual assault

I know what you’re thinking, we live in a society where everyone knows everything about consent. No means no, right? Well, not quite. Five Ryerson students in the Radio and Television Arts Program agree that the conversation isn’t being had enough and needs to be addressed.


Sydney Weinstock, Holly O’Brien, Amanda Mastantuono, Trish Riswick and Sloane Lester are the students behind Glass Ceiling Productions.

They’re currently working on The Remnants of Eden, a film about consent in young relationships. We chatted with them to find out more about their endeavour.


1. What inspired you to work on this film?

Trish: In February, I was about one month in on my exchange abroad in Australia. Our producer Sloane messaged me and asked if I’d be interested. She sent me a blog post from a girl she new describing her experience with sexual assault. I remember I only had to read it once before I told Sloane I was in and I wanted to direct. The topic of sexual assault has always hit me hard. Whether it was a topic in a film I was watching or because I read a news story about it. The event that hit me hardest was Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens to You” at the 2016 Oscars. She brought up survivors of sexual assault on stage. Following this one of my heroes Brie Larson (who had starred in the film Room) stood up and hugged every single survivor. It’s events like this that tell me there is a conversation starting


2. Tell us about your Indiegogo campaign.

Amanda: Our Indiegogo campaign was created to raise funds to make our film as well as to get information about our film out to our friends, family, peers and community. Indiegogo is a great platform in which clearly displays our films goal, and a breakdown of the funds we needed to raise. There is also a section where we uploaded a video […] which touches on the topic of sexual assault, and introduces our team to those who visit our Indiegogo page. In order to make this film the best it could be, we set our goal to raise $5,000. The contributions we raise go directly to paying our director of photography, renting a theatre for the premiere, hair and makeup artists, music composers, marketing expenses, costumes, props, food for our cast and crew, transportation, only to name a few! We launched our Indiegogo campaign on September 15th, not really knowing what to expect, but hoping for the best. It was nine days later that we had raised our goal of $5,000, we were shocked. We are now In-Demand, meaning that even though we have reached our goal, we are still able to receive donations until our campaign ends. We are so grateful for all of those who donated to us, because we now have the full potential to make this move the best it can be.


3. Is it significant that your team is made up of young women?

Holly: Yes, definitely. We as women, know better than anyone how women feel about this topic. We are aware that sexual assault and consent are issues that affect all different kinds of people, not just women. We would have loved if we could have covered that in our film as well, however we are just a team of five students so we chose to cover sexual assault against women. With that being said, we think it is important that it is young women are representing this story. It is also significant because there is a huge gender gap in the entertainment industry. Women have fewer job opportunities, we are paid less in this industry, and it is difficult to achieve an executive position as a women, so we definitely do think it is significant that we are breaking those boundaries by having an all female executive team.


4. Do you know women in your circles who have been victims of sexual assault?

Sydney: Ever since highschool, I’ve had quite a few friends that have been victims of sexual assault. There are no words you can say to make the pain of this experience go away. It truly has a ripple effect, and it does affect the people around you. The most important thing I can express is to be there for that person. Be there to listen, and be supportive because everyone goes through this differently. Healing is not linear, there is no right way to heal.


5. Is “Eden” a character you have come across in real life?

Trish: I have never personally come across and exact Eden in my life no. She is made up of pieces of women. And those pieces I feel are what women no matter their background or whether or not they have experienced sexual assault  will relate with. I feel like most women can relate to a time in their life a man has made them feel small, vulnerable and completely violated whether it be with words or with actions. As well as the trouble with finding yourself when you’re young and how difficult exterior factors can shape that. Eden is a very complex girl what makes her situation much more complex is that any of us could be an Eden. Young and ambitious but in love with the wrong person. I’m lucky I haven’t come across an Eden in real life, I’m also lucky I am not an Eden.

You can learn more about “Eden” here


6. Is consenting a problem in our society?

Sloane: Today, we believe that consenting is a big problem in our society. In the media, it has been a topic that keeps repeating itself. There have been stories from multiple different universities about situations of consent. But it is also seen and heard from people we know or friends of friends. Consenting isn’t only an issue when people are drunk or just a one night stand, it happens in relationships too. And it is something that definitely could be prevented. It is a conversation people are nervous to have and it needs to become normalized. No means no, not convince me or peer pressure me.


7. What lesson would you like the audience to walk away with?

Sloane: With our film, we want to bring awareness to sexual assault and the conversation of consent. We want them to put themselves in the victim’s shoes, and understand what it is like to be in that position. They need to know that sexual assault doesn’t discriminate against race, gender, or age and that it can happen to anyone. It doesn’t just affect the victim, it affects everyone.


8. What advice would you give to a victim of sexual assault? 

Holly: Everyone deals with this experience differently. What would be healing for some people could be damaging for others. I don’t think there is one specific piece of advice of something to do to feel better about this. I do think it is important for victims of sexual assault to know that they are not alone. They are not the first to experience this and they unfortunately are not the last. That is one of the goals of our film, to make this topic easier to talk about so that the victims don’t feel alone. I would advise someone who is experiencing this to do whatever makes them feel closure and get back to themselves.


9. What advice would you give a friend of a victim?

Sydney: If your friend decides to tell you, know how hard it was for them. Don’t brush it off, be there, be supportive. Listen, and listen again and keep listening because that friend will always need you. If your friend needs help, then make sure they get it. No matter how hard it may be to see a friend go through this kind of experience, know that they choose to tell you. You have a responsibility to help them heal.


10. How can the community support you in making this film a success?

Amanda: We are aware that not everyone has the funds to support our film financially, and that is okay! More importantly, the community can help us spread the message of sexual assault by liking, commenting and sharing our posts on our social media platforms. We are active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, your follow would mean a lot!  Those interested in our film can also visit our website www.theremnantsofeden.ca – this is where they can get all the information and updates. By helping us spread the message that our film will convey will help more than you can imagine.

I'm a journalism student at Ryerson and I'm a writer here and there on really anything that peaks my interest. In between working 3 jobs, you can find me at a coffee shop sipping on something caffeinated and working on my next bestseller. In the mean time, let's keep in touch and talk about some intriguing topics: @zeinabsaidoun on your favourite social platforms.
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