Interview with Film Producer: Sarah Hawkins

How did producing come about for you?
Out of necessity! I came to LA to pursue acting, but found it so much more exciting to produce my own projects. It was liberating to stop waiting for the perfect role, and put into action something tangible. I love that by creating opportunity, I could help level up other filmmakers in the process. 

Tell us, what does producing really consist of?

Producing tends to be a lot of little details. It’s seeing the big vision, and end-goals, while keeping a clear head about the day-to-day small stuff. I jokingly call it “cat herding,” but it’s so much more fun than that. I love building a team, and putting others strengths towards something bigger than themselves. It’s rewarding to look back and see how every little detail can build and feed into that larger vision. 
How do you handle disagreements you may have with studios, directors, etc.?

This is something I’m still learning how to tackle. I want to be compassionate and graceful, but firm and decisive. It’s so much more how you set the tone at the start of a relationship or project. Hear people out, keep the big vision in mind, empathize with frustrations but expect greatness, and always point to the bigger picture.

What criteria do you use to select a script, screenwriter, director, etc.?

Finding the right personality is everything! I look to work with people who are passionate, professional, and can push the project further along. A perfect example of this is my best friend, Myah Hollis, an extremely talented writer. We push each other and challenge one another to be better and work harder. Find “your person.” By finding the right personality, the right project will follow. 

What was the most important thing you have learned?

Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns at the risk of hurting others’ feelings. Many women (myself included) are at times fearful of what other women will think if they say “no” to something; at the risk of being labeled “bossy.” I have to constantly remind myself that this would never be the case if I were a man. Setting boundaries and expectations are crucial to creating an environment of productivity.
Did you have any specific influences growing up that lead you towards the film industry?

I’d have to say my dad, Bradley Hawkins. He first became an actor when I was very young. I always kind of rejected it as a possibility that I would ever pursue acting as a career, but in recent years, I of course, “caught the bug.” I packed up my car and had it shipped to LA and he and my mom were (and still are) my biggest cheerleaders. 

I’m well aware that it’s so incredibly rare to have parents that 1.) understand the industry and all the highs and lows it comes with, and 2.) are living it as well, and want to work with you. It’s definitely been a unique journey these past few years; auditioning together, producing a short film Roller Coaster together, and now in the beginning stages of forming a production company together. Father-daughter duo for the win!

What was your first movie making experience?

My first movie making experience was acting in a student film when I was a senior in college for a friend’s final project. I have this vivid memory of being in the snow and watching my friends running circles around me, huddled in jackets carrying umbrellas. They worked in effortlessly in sync, everyone having their specific area of expertise/interest, trusting each other completely. Since this first experience, there have been short films and now working a series, and although it’s the story and the final product that you are fighting for, there’s nothing quite like being on set and the unique work family that forms.  
One piece of advice to screenwriters just starting out?

Think about the end goal. Who does your story best serve? If your answer is “everyone will love this,” I would challenge you to be more specific. The more specific your niche audience is, the more a producer can help. 
What’s next for you?

For my full time gig, I work for Busted Buggy Entertainment, a female-driven production and distribution company founded by actor and producer, Courtney Daniels. The company has produced New York Times Critics’ Pick, The Girl in the Book, as well as the indie-kids’ film, Rescue Dogs, which directly resulted in the adoption of 150+ animals. We’re working on a few features for the end of the year, and are actively looking for more!
Outside of BBE, I’m producing a series about women in film, by women in film, entitled Or Die Trying. We successfully complete our Seed&Spark campaign early this summer, were featured on IndieWire, and are now heading into production this October! In addition to ODT, I’m producing a pitch pilot with my dad, entitled Filling In. That project is currently in post production, but I’m excited to get it out there. Lastly, I’m producing the 2nd annual Moonfaze Feminist Film Festival in Hollywood this December! A lot of spinning plates right now, but their all projects I’m deeply passionate about and excited to bring into fruition!

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