The Women Behind the Camera: ProductionHUB Exclusive with Innovative Female Filmmakers

Spotlighting Some of the Latest Achievements in Film with the Women Leading the Way

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

The industry continues to grow more and more each year with women filmmakers stepping into critical roles, from directing to camera operation, production design and editing. Each year, ProductionHUB celebrates a few incredible women in the field by highlighting their accomplishments, their stories and advice they have for other women in the industry. 

Luisa Mendoza, Camera Operator & DP 

With over 19 years of experience behind the lens, her projects range from corporate communication to reality TV to documentaries to commercial spots. Clients include NFL Films, Dick Clark Productions, Hewlett Packard, Toyota, Frito Lay, Pepsico, Texas Education Agency, RideTV, HGTV, Discovery, Animal Planet, TruTV, WE, PBS, the Dallas Mavericks, The Dallas Stars, Cantoni, Subway, True Results and many more. Her new HGTV show is set to debut in April. 

PH: Can you talk a bit about your HGTV series and how that came about? 

Luisa Mendoza: Every year HGTV has three home give-a-way specials: Urban Oasis, Dream Home and Smart Home. While I can't give details until it's officially announced in mid-March, the Smart Home was being built locally to me. I had shot on other “home” shows before (First Time Flippers, House Hunters International, You Live In What) so I was one of several referred names to the production team when they started crewing up. I shot a day for the team — the foundation pour-but had scheduling conflicts for the first shoot day with the two hosts so I was very surprised when I was asked, a month later, to consider contracting with them to be the lead DP for the build process.

PH: What can viewers expect to see? What are some of your favorite shots? 

Luisa Mendoza: Viewers will see the complete build process on this truly “smart” home. They will get to see just how a home gets built from the ground up and then go on the journey with the designer to decorate and give the home a personality. My favorite shots were actually during the build stage. The masonry crew working on the outside of the home really was fun to shoot, as was the countertop installation because they had cut the sink and fixture holes on site. Filming all the cutting and grinding in slow motion was really some of my most favorite shots of the project.

PH: What did days on set look like?

Luisa Mendoza: My days on set were pretty unique. My shoot days would be decided during the weekly build meetings so I really was just “on call”. I would get shot lists and updates on what sponsored items I needed to feature but the day were mine to run. I would arrive and shoot exterior and interior establishing shots every morning then cover the bigger processes going on at the house. I would also interview key workers and the build manager to help tell the story of the day and also to cover any “oops!” moments in the build. (Luckily there weren't that many!) Then I'd ship off the footage and shot logs at the end of every shoot day.

I was shooting on the Sony FS7 for this project but I also had a ton of GoPro cameras I would deploy throughout the house for more unique shots. We also had some days of shooting that would involve the two Hosts of the show. For those days, I had a second camera and op along with a full crew (producers, directors, audio and lighting.) Those days were a lot of fun doing the typical “host” OTF interviews and following them around different projects they were there to tackle that day. We had a really efficient team so our days never went over 10 hours. It was a “dream team” for sure.

PH: What are some of your go-to pieces of gear? 

Luisa Mendoza: While I loved shooting on the FS7 for the home show, my “go-to” gear normally is my Panasonic EVA1 with my Atomos Shogun Inferno monitor and definitely my Lite Panel Astra 6x lights.

PH: What inspired you to get into the industry? What do you love the most about your job, what keeps you going? 

Luisa Mendoza: I grew up in St. Louis, MO which isn't really any sort of “hotbed” for any sort of production work outside of news. My inspiration to get into this industry was actually music videos. I'm dating myself, but cable TV came into my life just before starting high school and I found music videos on MTV. I knew then that my crazy imagination and how I always tried to “make everything a movie” could actually be a career. What I love most about this job is that no two days are ever the same. As a freelancer, I never know what kind of project the next phone call will bring or where it will take me. I can say that I've shot yoga on the beach in Bali, covered volunteer work in the mountains of Guatemala and even filmed at Machu Picchu.

PH: Can you talk a bit about some of the other projects and how you constantly reinvent yourself in the industry? 

Luisa Mendoza: The majority of my work is corporate communication. Dallas has a lot of company's headquartered here and I've shot for most of them. I do live camera work for concerts and college sports as well as shooting for NFL Films on some of their series that they produce like the “Football Life” docs they do. I'm not sure I “reinvent” myself in the industry as much as I just try to stay current on the latest cameras and other gear so my clients will continue to trust me as someone who is always looking for new ways to help them get their message across.

PH: What other projects are you hoping to do more of in the future? 

Luisa Mendoza: I'd love to work on other home shows in the future but it's a hard decision to take on a whole show because it takes you away from your other clients for months at a time. I'm very happy with my niche of mixing corporate, reality (on a “day player” basis) and live events as my path forward.

PH: What advice would you give to other women aspiring to work in the production industry?

Luisa Mendoza: My advice to women who want to work in the production industry is to just get out there and do it. There are so many paths you can take — movies, TV, corporate, sports, etc so find your passion and you'll be unstoppable. A good attitude and work ethic are keys to making it in any industry but really important in this one. You will be working really long hours with the rest of the crew so don't be the problem, be the solution and that will get you places!

I'm older so I joke that I was a woman in production before it was cool to have women in production. When I started there were no online groups or Facebook networking like we have today so women today really have excellent paths into the industry — take advantage of all of those and just pursue your dreams.

PH: Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

Luisa Mendoza: I'd like to also tell people to consider corporate video work. Corporate may not be as exciting as making a movie or TV show but it's steady has a better pay rate (especially if you own your own equipment) and easier hours than most other production. The range and scope of corporate work are huge so you'll get your big “movie” type shoots as well as your standard “talking heads”. Large or small, they are my clients “everything” so I always give the project the respect it deserves. Overall, I'm just thankful every day that I can make a living the way I do.

Kate Hillis, Owner/Managing Director, Leroy & Clarkson

Owner/Chief Executive Officer at Leroy & Clarkson, Kate has led the award-winning creative studio since 2014. When she acquired the studio, it was one of the few women-owned creative studios in New York. In a move designed to offer clients a deeper palette of creative services encompassing creative strategy, production, 2D/3D animation, visual effects and design for every visual medium, creative agencies Leroy & Clarkson and ANATOMY have joined forces. Under Hillis’ guidance, the company has grown by both expanding its roster of clients and successfully taking on projects with greater scope and complexity. Some recent standout projects include work for National Geographic Channel, NBCUniversal, AMC, ABC News, The Rockefeller Foundation, TNT, Nasdaq, Lifetime, PBS among many others. 

PH: Can you talk a bit about how you got into the industry? What made you want to own your own creative studio?

Kate Hillis: My background is in nonprofit and documentary filmmaking.  I did most of my work overseas, primarily the Middle East and Africa. With my background in production, I joined Leroy & Clarkson as their Managing Director/CFO to manage the business side of the company. I was asked to sit in on a lot of client meetings discussing creative ideas and production.

At the time, I didn’t have much to contribute to those meetings and I realized I was usually included just for the optics of having a woman at the table. But I took advantage of the opportunities and absorbed and learned all that I could.

Fast forward 7 years, I acquired Leroy & Clarkson because it was an integral part of the media and entertainment industry, and as a forward thinker, I wanted to continue growing this agency with the ability to steer its direction. It's been 5 years now, and I love working with our creative and production teams, I love getting to know and collaborate with our clients, and I am so proud of our work.

PH: What prompted the acquisition of ANATOMY and what are you most excited about with this new merger? 

Kate Hillis: L&C didn't acquire ANATOMY. It’s probably better to call it a merger. And it’s been a great coming together for all parties, a perfect fit with Leroy & Clarkson. I'm so excited to work with the immensely talented and widely respected Mark Valentine, who is now our Chief Creative Officer. I believe in the power of collaboration, and that is Mark's credo as well. I'm excited about Mark’s arrival. It makes us better as we continually grow and expand into new arenas and platforms, which is what it’s all about.

PH: Who inspires you? What makes you excited to go to work every day? 

Kate Hillis: Years ago I was blessed to have been introduced to Lesli Linka Glatter, a prolific director and one of the first females in that role. Being exposed to Lesli, I've watched how hard she's fought for the rights of women in the industry. She's amazing at her craft, and she's indefatigable and downright effective in her fight for women. Lesli has heard on set: "'I've hired a woman once and it didn't work out,'" and yet you’ve never heard, '"I've hired a man once and it never worked out."' She's right. Lesli has made such a difference in the advancement of women who faced a steep barrier to entry, and I'm grateful. I’m a byproduct of her determination.

I'm also truly inspired by people who do kind things for others, for no other reason other than to be kind. Kind people will win. They will always come out ahead on a scale that truly matters. I believe that.

As half of our population knows, this isn’t easy — a full-time job, building a business, caring for your kids, unloading the dishwasher, chaperoning the field trip, meeting a client deadline — it goes on and on. I'd be out of my mind to do this without loving it — being excited every day to go to work and make something, to create something. I love the challenge of it. I love when people respond positively to what we've accomplished. I love the people I work with. And I'd love to be able to help pave the road for others. You have to do that. I'd like to be as true to Lesli’s spirit as I can.

PH: Can you talk a bit about some of the upcoming projects you're taking on this year? 

Kate Hillis: We have some really amazing things coming up for L&C in 2019. We just completed some projects for FXX, TNT, and the Hallmark Channel, and continue to work with our vast portfolio of broadcast clients on projects I can't mention yet. Additionally, we’re working on several projects that are profoundly important  – "Queen Collective", a project showcasing the work of diverse women filmmakers for Proctor & Gamble in partnership with Tribeca Studios and Queen Latifah.

We’re involved with a PBS "Summer of Space" campaign surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing, and we’re taking on a great project about prison reform with USC's Post Conviction Justice Project, an issue that I’ve become very passionate about.  It’s definitely an exciting year for us as we continue to expand into the consumer brand space, enrich our multiplatform creative and take on more pro-social work. It’s exactly the course I envisioned for my company.

PH: You have one of the very few women-owned creative studios in NYC — what is that experience like? And how are you hoping to inspire other women who may be aspiring to do the same thing? 

Kate Hillis: I think this business is still very much a boys club, but I don't think it's necessarily exclusive anymore. The fact is men were the majority of the players for so long, but that is changing. Here I am. I'm happy that Leroy & Clarkson is an alternative option to the old boys club. Clients want that. And they still want extraordinary work. Leroy & Clarkson is providing both.

Our suite of offerings remains the same: blue-chip clients, blue chip work. But our bonus of being woman-owned means something to a lot of our clients.  I hope that from a risk-taking and entrepreneurial perspective, other women are inspired by me. It is humbling to think that could be the case. I feel that if you're in a position to help other women and minorities, you need to do that. The more female business owners and leaders there are, the bigger the opportunity to empower other women in the workplace.

PH: What piece(s) of advice do you live by?

Kate Hillis: Kindness Matters. Did I say that already?

Kerry LeVielle, Director 

Kerry LeVielle is a Hudson Valley-based filmmaker. Her storytelling examines the experiences that incite a woman’s “growing up,” and the melancholic nostalgia that shrouds it. Nurtured through intimate docu-narrative portraits, Kerry’s films explore the poignant trials of what it means to come-of-age.

Recently, Kerry was one of fifteen filmmakers from around the world to be awarded a 2019 Sundance Ignite Fellowship with her short film Playhouse. She is also a graduate of SUNY Purchase College where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Cinema Studies with a Minor in Screenwriting.

Sophia Feuer, DP  

Sophia Feuer is a filmmaker from Upstate New York, currently based in San Francisco. She works as a cinematographer as well as a youth educator for SFFILM and the Jacob Burns Film Center. She is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied Cinema, Fine Arts, and Anthropology.  

As a recipient of both the James B. Pendleton Grant and a Park School of Communications Fund, she is in the process of completing various independent projects that were filmed in Costa Rica and Northern Germany.

PH: What got you interested in a career in the production industry?

Sophia Feuer: I originally came from a background in painting so communicating through images, atmosphere, and “gesture” has always been something I’ve wanted to do. I had come across the films of Jonas Mekas, Bruce Baillie, Tacita Dean, which is when I knew that film was much more dynamic (for me) than painting. The collaborative aspect of working in film is unique and it’s a wonderful creative tool. I acknowledged what other people can bring to the table and felt very inspired. As a painter, you can be an isolationist, but as a filmmaker, you’re really pushed to verbalize to your collaborators what you want to do.

Kerry LeVielle: I’ve always felt an affinity for storytelling. So much so, that the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school I watched around thirty films and kept a little leather-bound journal of all the movies I watched, cataloging the year of release, the directors, and the screenwriters -- committing each bit of information to memory. I wrote little reviews on the story structure, pacing, and direction. When I finished the last entry of a batch I wrapped up my journal and hopped on my bike, rode to the local library, and grabbed the next armful of films I could take out.

When I got to SUNY Purchase college I followed that passion for film by pursuing a major in Cinema Studies with a minor in Screenwriting. I took classes such as Women in Film and The New Wave in Hollywood, where we dissected aesthetic, camera technique, and historical significance and commentary. As much as I loved learning about film theory it became even more clear to me that my passion for film extended beyond the classroom or a Close Analysis essay. I wanted to be on set as the filmmaker, amidst the chaos, making art.

PH: What was the first big project you worked on? And what was that experience like? 

Sophia Feuer: The first project that I DP’d was a thesis film for a woman at Cornell University. It was the first time I felt like, “Wow, someone is trusting me to help capture their vision!” It was very empowering. The crew was mainly women and the project dealt with eating disorders within the dancing community, so there was a sensitivity demanded by the subject matter.

Kerry LeVielle: The first major project I worked on was a small indie feature shooting in Troy, NY, about a half hour outside my hometown. It was summer, and I had just finished my freshman year at Purchase. I was a production assistant, and it was my first time being a P.A. on anything so it was a bit overwhelming at first. I believe I was coming in just at the tail of pre-production -- I remember doing a lot of work involving hotel bookings and day out of days. And even though I was incredibly stressed out, the focused energy in the office was palpable, which motivated me to push through and really put my nose to the grindstone.

I also took that opportunity to ask a lot of questions. People were throwing around acronyms or using set language-- it was easy to get lost real fast. Luckily, the Line Producer on that project was seasoned, and she answered all my questions which I am incredibly grateful for. She was the first person to tell me about “above the line” and “below the line,” I learned what a day-out-of-days was, and how to be organized while on set-- one of the most important skills I learned. I also got to meet the D.P. of the film, and he showed me all the accessories and lenses we were using to build out the camera, which was awesome. 

There was one day I made it set. Another amazing experience. There was a P.A. on set who had been working on films for a while and he helped me learn some of the lingo, like how a stinger is an extension cord or what a c47 is. Even though I was inexperienced, I felt in my element. I was stressed but focused. That experience sealed the deal for me, honestly.

PH: Congrats on your Sundance film. Can you talk a bit about it and what it was like to work on the film?

Sophia Feuer: I feel that Playhouse was all about capturing a very genuine intimacy between the characters, and I think Kerry’s ability to demonstrate this to the entire crew also translated some of that intimacy, or trust, amongst the crew dynamic. You realize how vital that is for communication on set. The location was very small and for some of the scenes, we were packed closely together in tight spaces. I felt like everyone was on the same page, so we kind of move as a single unit, which isn’t always the case in my experience.  

Kerry LeVielle: Thank you so much! Playhouse was a challenging, but beautiful experience. My Grandmother’s passing in December of 2017 is what motivated me to make this film. Having lived twenty of the twenty-four years of my life with both my Mom and my Grandma meant that I had an extremely close relationship with her.

Filming was an incredibly cathartic experience. We shot the film in my parent’s house. The way the Grandmother and Jo bond during the film is through gardening and playing games which is exactly what I did with my Grandma. But what I’m truly grateful for is the fact that the Creative Culture Fellowship Program at the Jacob Burns Film Center provided me space where I could be vulnerable in my art. If it weren’t for that trust, encouragement, and support from my Creative Culture Community, the Jacob Burns Film Center, my cast and crew, and my family the film wouldn’t be what it is today. 

Just like Jo, my Mom was a single parent working three to five jobs trying to keep us afloat and we were the primary caretakers for my grandma and grandpa who was increasingly ill from diabetes. So the film draws a lot of inspiration from my own personal childhood experiences. But, as I wrote the screenplay I realized that the story ofPlayhouse was much more than an exploration of my own personal memory. It illustrates how the onus of responsibility affects the relationships of three generations of women living in the same house; a situation that is more commonly shared than one would think.

PH: Can you discuss the teamwork necessary to pull the film together?

Sophia Feuer: The crew, for the most part, was quite small, which was key for this kind of film. There was a fluidity between our roles and being able to shift into another role momentarily to keep things moving along. There’s a photo of Kerry directing the actors from behind a reflector that she was holding while also having her director’s monitor beside her, which I love because it very much captures the essence of the shoot.

Kerry LeVielle: Playhouse wouldn’t be a success without the support, patience, and encouragement from every person involved in its creation. From the initial pitch in Creative Culture to the screening in the Ignite Program at Sundance, I’ve received an astounding amount of support for the film. It’s truly humbling.

My approach to filmmaking -- whether it be a brainstorming session or the final tweaks in post-production -- is to constantly promote and encourage an environment and space for collaboration and vulnerability. Every film I make is as much the crew members as it is my own. All the people on set have different skill sets, experience levels, and creative problem-solving skills and are coming together to create one piece of unified art. To me, that is one of the most remarkable elements of filmmaking.

One of the most important things I needed to solidify from the jump was making sure that Sophia Feuer, the D.P. on my first film Niskyland, was able to reprise her position on the set of Playhouse. With Niskyland, I discovered that my filmmaking exists in a docu-realist visual aesthetic. I wanted to lean harder into that style of filmmaking and have already taken that first step with Sophia (a brilliant documentarian herself) it made total sense to have Sophia be a part of this project. It was extraordinarily important to me to have a sense of trust and vulnerability with the D.P. and I wanted no one, but Sophia.

From there it was about building out a crew we felt comfortable working with or excited to work with. We had a few crew members from Niskyland come on to the project and a few new people as well, who were essential in creating a wonderful atmosphere for the story of Playhouse to flourish in.             

PH: Favorite shot and why? 

Sophia Feuer: My favorite series of shots is where Jo and Ghita are playing Cat’s Cradle together. It’s just a very quiet and subtle moment where we’re watching them interact and seeing their movements. Prior to that, we had decided to reshoot this scene because the lighting and blocking just wasn’t right and we were relying so much on the natural light inside the house. At these times I really do value the communication that Kerry and I have developed through collaborating in the past on her previous film, Niskyland. We just watched the footage and were honest about how we felt and made the time to get it right.

Kerry LeVielle: One of my favorite shots of the film is of Jo’s hands bouncing on the sink while she sings and her mother brushes her hair. That moment was taken while we were resetting for another take. Sophia and I were sitting on the floor just outside of the bathroom where we were filming when I peeked at the LCD screen on the camera and saw what Emma (the actress playing Jo) was doing. I was just about to tap Sophia on the shoulder to tell her to roll when I saw that she was already recording. Just thinking about that moment gives me goosebumps for two reasons: first, that moment is so pure and childlike. Seeing her hands bounce on the porcelain of the sink while she sings off camera punctuates the feeling of Jo’s innocence. Secondly, to have such an understanding and connection with a D.P., especially with a D.P. as talented and imaginative as Sophia, is rare. We built the aesthetic and the tone together; we are in constant collaboration with each other. We spent a fair few hours during pre-production discussing reference images, feeling, blocking, and many other details so that we were well prepared for production. And with all the beauty that comes from preparation, there is still something so magical about capturing an improvised shot like the one we got at the sink. 

PH: The industry is full of amazing women both behind and in front of the camera -- how are you paving the way for other aspiring filmmakers?

Sophia Feuer: The most important thing that we can do is be an available resource for other women who are trying to step into a film. Knowledge and experience are sometimes hard to access and I know what it’s like to have seen my male peers offered many more opportunities than I was. I think this develops a kind of self-doubt due to a lack of experience and time spent, hands-on, developing a comfortability with equipment (or with whatever skill you’re trying to develop). The intimidation disappears when you finally have that exposure, so I’ve always been willing to provide that for other women, despite how much more I feel I still have to learn! My first real opportunity came from another woman and I think it was vital, so I’m very thankful.  

Kerry LeVielle: There are women out here hustling every free moment before or after work, between classes, through meals to bust down walls so that they can make their art and their money. I am right there with them. We are here. We are working. It is as much about paving the way as it is about being seen. I want to contribute to the whole of our narrative: representation and visibility.

Collaborating with other women filmmakers and building out crews that are predominantly women is something I strongly advocate for because it’s important to me. That might be seen as a progressive viewpoint, but women should have always had opportunities to work as D.P.s, Gaffers, Sound Ops, Cam Ops, etc. I believe it’s part of my responsibility to continue employing women in these crew positions and to make sure the women working behind my films are seen. If I succeed, we all succeed.

PH: What do you absolutely LOVE about the work you do?

Sophia Feuer: I love the intensity that accompanies filmmaking. I’ve always been a very serious person, but the immense vulnerability demanded to bare your soul to someone else is unbelievable. I’m inspired when I get to experience people in this way through working together. In many ways, I think the process is just as representative of how we understand truths about one another and our own lives as the “final product” is. I think it’s also so easy to relate to someone else who also loves to make films for this exact reason. I always think about how lucky I am that I get to do this!

Kerry LeVielle: I love the collaborative element of filmmaking. As a medium, it has a different level of intensity that I think is inherent to the art form. It’s beautiful to see folks from all walks of life come together and make a film.

I also believe that film holds an incredible responsibility in reflecting life back to us. We are living in a revolutionary moment, with #TimesUp and #OscarsSoWhite, where many working filmmakers are pushing full force against an outmoded system. As a filmmaker, I hold myself accountable for telling stories that increase the visibility of underrepresented communities and families like my own, but I also strive for inclusion behind the camera, as well.

PH: Who inspires you in the industry?

Sophia Feuer: There are so many people to be inspired by, both men and women. But I think that there is something about seeing another woman work and make something amazing that is fundamental to a young person’s career. I think Emily Kai Bock, Zia Anger, Rachel Morrison are all great examples of women who are working now with tons of different people and just being badass at what they do. Kelly Reichardt and Lynn Ramsay are also incredible examples. And then there are the countless foreign filmmakers that I am deeply inspired by. I had the opportunity to receive some mentorship from Sarah Moshman, whose documentary class I took in LA. I think the work that Sarah is doing is amazing and truly a testament to her hard work and shear strength. She’s a mom who highlights and empowers women through her films and she truly embodies what it means to go out and make something happen for yourself, which is one of the greatest things that I’ve learned from her.

Kerry LeVielle: There are many filmmakers in the industry who inspire me. To name a few: Andrea Arnold, Ava DuVernay, Eliza Hittman, Dee Rees and Agnes Varda. All of these filmmakers challenge outdated narratives by writing compelling and complex characters and worlds. Each one of these directors are making films that spark deep self-reflection in the viewer — an effect of filmmaking that I strive to incorporate in my own work.   

I’m also in awe of my peer filmmakers Lucy Adams, Maya Cueva, Moira Fett, Leah Galant, Emily Ann Hoffman, Crystal Kayiza, Jalena Keane-Lee, Reweina Tessema, Rahessa Vitorio and many more. The work, worlds and stories that these filmmakers tell inspires me every day.

PH: Can you talk more about how the Creative Culture and Sundance programs are providing opportunities to emerging filmmakers?

Sophia Feuer: Creative Culture is so incredibly unique in providing space and the support to grow this network of very talented and eager filmmakers, many of which are emerging artists, that is very hard to find at the beginning of one’s career. It’s truly unique. Through my previous work at the Jacob Burns as a youth educator, I was connected with Kerry, who was looking for a DP for her first short film being made under her Creative Culture Fellowship. It’s an opportunity that benefits everybody who is involved if they have the chance to be and the program is all about growth and encouragement (and making incredible films!). Sean Weiner is truly fantastic!

Kerry LeVielle: If you told sixteen-year-old Kerry, the same girl who was riding her bike to and from her local library documenting every film she could see in one summer, that she would be a Creative Culture and Sundance Ignite Fellow by the age of twenty-four she would have never believed it. I feel incredibly privileged and thankful to be a part of two phenomenal filmmaking communities. 

Creative Culture gave me the space to take my first formative steps as a filmmaker. I received the Fall 2017 Valentine and Clark Emerging Artist Fellowship a few months after graduating college. Within the program, I was welcomed into a comforting and artistically stimulating space that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. My mentor, Director of Creative Culture Sean Weiner, is literally one of the kindest, most patient, and attentive people I have ever met. With guidance from Sean and the supportive community of fellows I was able to explore my voice as a filmmaker, and with the two films I made within the program I built the foundational muscle for my style of intimate docu-realistic storytelling. Creative Culture is where I learned how to walk and Sundance Ignite is where I’m learning how to run.

Sundance Ignite continues to be one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had. Not only do you get a mentor who is working in the industry, as part of the fellowship the fifteen of us who were selected as Ignite Fellows got to go to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. At the festival, we had networking workshops, industry panel events, and a pitch session with the mentors. I learned so much during the festival that I think I wrote about twenty pages of notes in my journal. 

Meredith Lavitt and Toby Brooks, the Director and Manager of Sundance Ignite, along with Lauren Stevenson, the Director of Adobe Project 1324, and the other members of both the Sundance Ignite and Adobe teams welcomed all of us with the warmest faces. They curated the events we got to go to and provided an unconditional amount of support during the festival into the following weeks of our year-long fellowship.

I also got to spend a good amount of time with my mentor Andrew Ahn who is incredibly talented and has provided me with a wonderful amount of support regarding the projects I’m currently working on.

I’m just incredibly thankful. I know I’ve said it a lot, but it’s true. Creative Culture and Sundance Ignite are communities and families that I’ll forever be thankful to be a part of.

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