Podcast: Episode 01 Lenore Coer

On our first episode of the Creative Outsiders Podcast we interviewed Lenore Coer.


Hailing from a small town outside of Atlanta, GA, Lenore Coer is a natural-born storyteller. The goal of her writing is to explore the complexities of what it looks and feels like to be a woman of color in today’s world. Lenore paints a picture that most women, no matter where they’re from, can identify with and feel. Lenore has honed her gifts in front of and behind the camera by completing a B.A. in Spanish Literature from Sewanee: The University of the South, studying acting at The William Esper Studio and completing a screenwriting certificate from The New School, culminating in winning the Rena Down Memorial Award for Screenwriting Excellence. With her studies behind her, Lenore is ready to delve into the world of screenwriting, determined to make a mark on the industry with her unique style beginning with her newest web-series “Stepford SideChix.”

You can Tune into our first episode. Where filmmaking and Women Collide. http://thecreativeoutsiders.podomatic.com/

Interview with filmmaker: Courtni Saizon

Who is Courtni Saizon? Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from New Orleans Louisiana. All my life I’ve loved the arts. As a child I acted in plays both in church and school. I also loved playing with my dolls and making up stories and characters for them that could stretch out for years, I also liked writing stories and fantasizing and imagining exciting worlds.





What drew you into the world of filmmaking? What was your defining moment?

I’ve always been obsessed with stories. I LOVED watching soap operas growing up.

My whole life I was an actor until I caught the writing bug after living in Los Angeles a few years. Then after another few years while living in NY I decided to stop sitting on the scripts I’d written over the years and bring them to life. And it has been one of the most enthralling, challenging, growth- producing, purpose-filled journeys I’ve ever been on.


How did you find your production crew?

I find my crew in various ways. I find them on other sets, from Craigslist, on Facebook, and now more than ever I use referrals. People will usually bring you great people when their reputations are on the line.


Tell us about your web series Complexities?

Complexities is fragile wildflower productions premier web series.

The theme of Complexities really boils down to a person being truthful with themselves and making decisions about what they really want out of life and being up front and transparent about it, especially where others are concerned, and accepting the repercussions as a result. Sometimes people want to eat their cake and have it too. Or sometimes people don’t know if they even really want cake at all.


What do you look for when looking for a project?

So far I’ve written all of my own projects. However, next year I’d like to start producing other people’s projects. As far as stories are concerned I enjoy narratives with strong points of view. I relish characters who aren’t perfect, characters who are real and messy and contradictory as humans often are in real life. I am also a sucker for witty verbiage. And I always appreciate story lines that I can’t completely predict.






What is a successful moment in your career so far?

As far as success is concerned, I personally feel I have had lots of successful moments, especially since I define success on my own terms. Each time I’ve connected to an idea and was able to bring it forth upon the page I’ve given myself kudos. Every step of the way from having only a script to manifesting an actual 3D embodiment of said script has made me feel a sense of accomplishment.


How do you earn a living and sustain a career doing what you love?

I work in an industry where I get to meet various people in the entertainment field and I hustle really hard to make connections and meet new people. I crowdfund and save my money in order to fund my productions, however, if anyone ever wants to produce my projects I more than likely won’t turn them down.


Tell us what does producing really consist of?

Producing consists of being a diplomat, a psychologist, a parent, a magician, a negotiator, a crisis manager, a juggler (of tasks), a motivational speaker, a salesperson, and probably a plethora of other things if I think about it some more lol



How does a typical day (for you) begin when you are in full swing production?


When I’m in full swing production (but not on a filming day) a typical day involves me waking up and being still for a moment. I try to do something briefly for me like watch a show on Netflix or a YouTube video I like or read an article that interests me. I then immediately look at my phone for text messages and then emails. I peruse my list of things to do for the day and delegate to whomever I may need to tasks that have to be done and I also follow up with people about prior assigned tasks. I am basically ensuring all things are running smoothly and on schedule.


It’s super important that all the crew are prepped and ready. I make sure my AD is prepping the film schedule based upon location places and times I secure. I make sure that wardrobe is in communication with the actors about what they’ll wear throughout filming. I continually touch bases with the actors about character motivation and rehearsals amongst themselves and with me. I discuss my vision with my DPs and get their shot lists prior to filming to ensure that we are on the same page. I really love my DPs to come with dynamic, innovative ideas though. I make sure the Gaffer knows what effect we are going for lighting wise for each scene. I also make sure that hair and make-up have their character looks ready. Lastly, I ensure we have enough PAs to take on various other important crew jobs.



One piece of advice do you have for women looking to get started in the industry?


My one piece of advice would be to actually start (take action) and to never ever, ever get discouraged once you do start. Pursuing dreams is a challenge not a cake walk. You will face internal and external obstacles. At times you will come up against yourself and your own doubts. You may get push back from others too. You must remain resolute with regard to your vision and stay the course. Envision and know what you want and then make it happen. Be like bamboo, strong but flexible, because it is hard work and sometimes you have to tweak your initial plans in order to accomplish your goal.


What’s next for you?

As far as what is next, there are continuing projects and new projects slated for Fragile Wildflower Productions. We are inclusive. We are huge advocates of diversity on set. We support women in film. We are socially relevant. We’ve always advocated for these things from the company’s inception and will continue to do so. I hope to help people grow and develop the skill set to take them wherever they can imagine being. I love to see people move within the company and try on different hats. I really like to challenge and invest in the people working with me. I also love to welcome new people aboard as long as they have great personalities and are willing to do the work. We have fun, but we work very hard that’s for sure! I hope to also write and direct projects with other creatives outside the scope of my company. Let’s all work together to fulfill our dreams!


How can we keep in touch?





Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people.

Interview with She Makes Film

How did She Makes Film get started?

An idea landed in Jenna’s brain one day: to create a platform to make and share films. She told Hannah, having worked previously with her on three short films, and then two weeks later Cara came on.  Our first project together was Black Oaks, which was quickly followed by the next two installments in the Visual Poetry Project.  We first wanted to explore a visual language, and were all moved by great music, poetry, and nature.  Because we decided to crew these films with only the three of us, we chose easier ideas to execute – filming M.O.S. and adding sound in later.



Tell us a little about yourself as individuals & what role you play?

Jenna: I have two degrees: a BFA in dance performance and a BA in Spanish. I’ve danced professionally for ten years and am a stickler for the choice and precision of music in film.  I was tired, as an artist, of waiting for “permission” to make things, waiting for the booking, and seeing the kinds of breakdowns I was getting for my type (“If I see ONE MORE ‘hot blonde in bar’ breakdown I’m going to punch someone). I knew we needed to create the things we wanted to see in the world.

Cara: I have a BA in theatre performance and have studied many different acting methods.  Theater was my first love, but realized what that meant is an immense passion for telling stories.  I have produced for stage and film – organizing shows for non-profit theatre, producing my own films.  Working with SMF has allowed me to explore so many other passions: lighting design, assistant directing, story consulting, the list goes on.  I’m still an actor first and foremost; most recently I had the joy of acting in season two of The Man In the High Castle on Amazon.

Hannah: Starting college as Pre-Med, I shocked myself when I came out with a BA in Dramatic Arts. However, I appreciate my college years for introducing me to the most amazing film studies classes. Having performed in Operas and Theatre since I was three, I naturally leaned towards storytelling, but it wasn’t until I found directing, that the analytic and artistic sides of myself came together. I have always let my passion lead the way, and about 5 years ago, I wrote and directed my first short film, Impossibilities. I was so lucky that this led me to a lot of great people who started believing in me.  All the opportunities that are in front of me now, are a direct result of finding my team with Jenna Keiper and Cara Mitsuko.

Roles: We all orbit in and out of roles – making sure that equal artistic stake is given whenever we produce something together.  We have learned that this is imperative whenever working for free.  We try to honor what our members are most passionate about – ideas, story consulting, lighting, sound, directing, acting, etc.

How big is your production team (and who does that include)? How did you go about finding your team?
Our production team is comprised of the three founding members of SheMakesFilm: Hannah Kean, Jenna Keiper, and Cara Mitsuko.  We had all met in an acting class in North Hollywood (Stuart Rogers’ Studios) and “clicked,” but it took a few years for us to start working together.  Cara had just returned from a year in Portland, and Hannah and Jenna had worked on three films together when we collaborated our first SheMakesFilm project.  It was when all three of us came together that some kind of magic took place.

You have six shorts and 2 documentaries under your belt. You are currently working on your first featured film. Tell us a little about the featured film.
A feature has been on our docket for about a year now.  Initially it started out as a film highlighting the intersection between a person’s curated social media image and the reality of their personal identity.  About three months ago the team sat down and realized that we’d all changed as artist and that the feature had to change too.  Cara told writer/director Hannah to just write the story that she wanted to write.  A week later Hannah had her first draft.  Speak Hands For Me tells the story of a female veteran, newly out of the forces, who finds a new sense of identity in the mayhem of the theatre.




What resources do you use to find your actors?
We have a vast list of incredible performing artists we know from past projects and Stuart Rogers’ Studios that we enjoy including in projects because we believe in their talent.  However we are working on reaching outside of our network – sometimes sending out casting notices or asking for referrals as in the case of Harriet Tubman: Journey to Freedom.

Many of the women filmmakers that follow our collective are in the beginning or the middle stages as far as filmmaking. What is one lesson you learned when first starting off in the filmmaking world?
J: Fear of failure will cripple you. Take the risk that what you create will not be what you imagined when you started – it might even be something better.
H: If you cannot find joy in your process, you have failed before you’ve even begun.
C: When we start we have lots of ideas that in a few years we may think are bad – don’t let that stop you; love all your babies and be precious with none of them.

Why did you all decide to pursue independent filmmaking?
There are stories within us that need to be heard – stories with diverse casts and complicated, beautiful women.  We also realized that we couldn’t demand that the industry do better if we weren’t making our own art. We decided we didn’t need or want to wait for permission – for the perfect camera or the perfect skill level or even a budget at ALL. We started with an iPhone and a crew of three people!

What does a typical day look like for you while in full production for this project?
We alternate between team members’ homes – starting our day early and setting up our mobile offices.  We generally start with a check-in: hearing from each member what they’re planning for the day and what they would like help with.  Next we game plan our daily schedule – when do we work together? when do we work separately?  We try to organize our days to allow for equal artistic and administrative tasks.  We don’t always achieve this balance, but we are a happier team when we do.

How do you recommend that filmmakers break in?
Create your own work, and start volunteering on sets.  You have to start exercising your artistic muscles, and the best way to ensure that you’ll be able to call on people to help you out, is to be helping them right now.



Cost is always a factor how do you fund “green light” projects?
You tell us! Haha, but in all honesty we’ve often funded from our own pocket.  Any money we’ve gotten from filming reels for actors, the Harriet Tubman concert sales, etc. has been used to buy equipment for SMF.  None of it as this point goes into our pockets.  We film as cheaply and effectively as possible, and this restriction often leads to great creativity.  We have incredibly talented and generous filmmaking friends who have donated their time, and we donate time around town on other sets as well.  So perhaps we’d say: help other filmmakers.  That’s the easiest way to get them to pay you back with favors.  Take people out to coffee, find like-minded artists.  These are the people you will lean on as you start making films.  Our feature film is the first time we are learning the process of engaging sponsors and investors.  It’s a grueling process, but has been very rewarding.

What is your social media strategy as business owners but also finding that balance as a creative?
This is an excellent question, and one we still struggle with.  We give ourselves a limit – each of us spends a certain amount of time a day on different social media tasks.  We’ve found that a lot of time spend on social media can kill our momentum and creative minds.  It takes a lot of energy.  Once a week we all sit down and plan out the week on Instagram in photos and captions.  We’ll switch off who writes what; often one team member will write the caption for another, since we still have a little trouble bragging about ourselves on social media.  We try to post things that inspire us.

What legacy do you want She Makes Film to leave behind?
Stories that move us forward as a society – that help us expand our minds.  We aim to move the line forward – the line of what is acceptable, what is society.  Trying to better reflect in cinema our diverse and changing world.  We miss seeing movies that remind us of our humanity and our heart.  The basis for all the good movies of the past is a real human story.

Where do you see She Makes Film headed in the future?
We want to be able to support ourselves as artists, and other women as well.  We have a full roster of films for the next year, and hope to continue learning from and meeting new artists.

What’s next for you as individuals? 
Jenna starts a master’s degree this fall in Anthropology and Documentary Film. She will head up the documentary branch of SheMakesFilm and will be acting in SheMakesFilm’s first feature.
Hannah will write and direct her first feature and continue to work on her two additional feature screenplays.
Cara will also be acting in SMF’s first feature and continues to pursue acting with the help of her amazing agent and manager team.  She will also be directing her first short film – a collaboration between SMF and her husband, Chris Sutherland at EOD Films.

Hannah Kean
Jenna Keiper
Cara Mitsuko

Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people.

Interview with Film Director: Tyniece Stevenson


Who is Tyniece? Tell us a little about yourself? 
I was born and raised in Detroit, Mi. After high school I got a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. I’ve loved films even before I was born. My mother said she watched a lot of classic films while pregnant and I wasn’t so active when she did. I watched movies every day after school, from cartoons to classic black and white. I even enjoy the big blockbuster franchises.

What was the moment that defined you choosing filmmaking?
I took a film production class at U of M and I found my love for editing. After my mother passed I decided to seriously pursue filmmaking and enrolled in the Motion Picture Institute in Troy, Mi. I discovered my love for screenwriting and camera operation while there.
You are currently working on a documentary project “Dream it”, tell us a little about that and how you got on board?
“Dream It.” Came from a previous project I worked on that had to be rescheduled. It was about a music producer from Detroit who moved to Los Angeles and is gaining big success. I made a trailer for that project and while thinking about the person who would’ve been the main subject, I had the thought, Why should people still believe in dreams? Then “Dream It” was born. It was just one of those things that ‘flowed’ when I got started.

You wear many hats as a filmmaker video editor, writer and director. How did you balance them all and how do you devote time to strengthen yourself in each of the areas. 
When I took the film production class, I had to create concepts, and follow the process of pre- production, production, and post production, to complete short documentaries. I’ve grown in my understanding of each role of Director, Editor, and Writer through constant study and personal interest. I read as much as I can. I watch interviews from upcoming and veteran filmmakers.

There are a lot of women in our collective who are interested in filmmaking but can’t attend film school. What are some resources you would suggest for those individuals specially who want to edit or direct?  
For me, YouTube is a massive resource. Type in any subject and you’ll get many good videos. Find interviews from filmmakers of your favorite movies and see who were their influences. Which books do they read, what conferences do they attend, all of these resources are a good start. You don’t need film school to be a filmmaker. Just determination, imagination, and vision.
I will say the best thing about film school is making a connection with people in class you might spend years working with. I chose a school that had a year long program and gives students hands on experience making films.
As a director, do you believe you needs to know how to operate a camera themselves?
I personally think all directors need to understand as much as possible about what cameras can do. It’s the Cinematographer who heads up the camera department, but the Director needs to understand what’s going on technically so that they know the Cinematographer’s vision, and if that vision matches their own.
What’s the best advice you can give storytellers to help them develop their own unique voice and style? 
I was told write what moves you. Write from a personal experience that affected you in a strong way. If you don’t have a deep emotional connection to the subject, it shows. Then shape that to upcoming trends in the industry to increase chances of getting a script developed.
What is your ultimate goal as a filmmaker? 
I  ultimately want to make a few more short and feature length documentaries. My first love is editing so I see myself going strong in that field in years to come. I’m writing my first narrative script and developing the second. My goal is to get one or both into development.
What’s next for you?
I’m moving to L.A. next year to continue making projects and learning more about the industry and my craft. However I’m open to opportunities in different places that will give me the best experience.
What are you watching right now? Game of Thrones! “Be a dragon!”

How can we stay connected?

Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people.


Interview with Entertainment Lawyer: Nicole Cameron

Tell us a little about yourself as individual. You are currently a lawyer looking to venture into the film industry as a creative. How do we go from lawyer to filmmaking?

I am a business and entertainment lawyer in NYC.  I have consulted aspiring, and independent filmmakers on their upcoming and current film projects.   I am also a mental health advocate and enjoy doing work to increase awareness on depression, self-injury, and suicide in the black community.  I have always been interested in writing creatively, but I didn’t consider filmmaking a possibility until recently.  As a young adult, I used to write stories and poems on a variety of issues.

Last year, a client invited me to a creative group that was in the early stages of creating a web series.  At first I thought I’d observe and offer business and legal advice when needed, but I found myself contributing more and more.  Needless to say I joined the team.  That decision allowed me to rediscover a hidden interest in storytelling.  Over this summer, I learned more about screenwriting and began writing a story inspired by my life experiences and mental health.  Due to the nature of my work, I think filmmaking can be a great vehicle to address issues within our community, in particular, the stigma of mental health treatment and silent suffering.

nicole cameron

We are seeing a big push of women filmmakers wanting to start their own production companies, what are the basics that need to happen in order to be an official business?

I am excited to see this shift in filmmaking and love to see women entrepreneurs pursuing their passions!  Starting a film production company can be a very exciting, overwhelming, and complicated experience all at once.  First, she should determine which business structure is best for her needs.  There are a few options to choose from: a sole proprietorship, general partnership, joint venture, limited partnership, limited liability company, and a corporation ( S-Corp or C-Corp ).   Each structure is different with respect to its liability protection and taxation.  The producer should consider choosing the entity that reduces the risk of exposure to personal liability.

Typically, LLCs are used for smaller production companies, while Corporations are used for larger companies, but it’s always best to consult with a tax professional or a business attorney to understand the benefits or drawbacks of either entity before proceeding.  After deciding on the business structure, file the necessary documents with the Secretary of State.  LLCs require an Articles of Organization and a Corporation requires an Articles of Incorporation.  The next step would be to publish the company by running an ad in the local newspaper for consecutive weeks.  Check the publication laws of your state to determine the duration of the advertisement.  Upon completion of publication, the production company should receive the Certificate of Publication, which proves the publication requirements have been fulfilled.  Once received by the Secretary of State, the production company should receive its Business Certificate by mail.  The company should also secure a tax identification number and prepare its internal operating agreements.

The LLC requires an Operating Agreement and the Corporation requires Bylaws.  These documents govern the business.  So those are the basics, but I would also encourage the producer to have a business plan because third parties may require it in the future.  The producer should also consider professional relationships with attorneys, accountants and insurance brokers.  Contracts, an accounting system, and insurance policies will be needed.  If she intends to hire staff, workers compensation insurance is needed.  She will also need Errors & Omissions insurance, and a policy to cover equipment.  A completion bond may also be required under some financing scenarios. She should also consider how she will finance the business—self-funding, incurring debt, or equity financing.

In the world of filmmaking the collaborative process is the key to success. This often means joining forces with another individual to establish a business or even a script. Tell us why partnership agreements are important to have and what other ways should you protect yourself?

Collaboration is definitely a key to success in filmmaking and can occur in any stage of the filmmaking process.  BEFORE any collaborative work begins, I strongly encourage filmmakers to get the terms of the collaboration in writing and signed by the parties. Each party should know what to expect, in terms of ownership rights, their obligations under such agreement, as well as what happens in case of breach.  It is also important to note that these contracts are necessary to ensure the production company has the proper chain of title for their projects.  The chain of title is an unbroken record of ownership of the film property.  For example, if one or more parties collaborated on the script, this agreement should be recorded in the chain, as well as the underlying rights for the script. Another area of concern for the filmmaker is how to protect intellectual property, such as ideas, that unfortunately are not protected under the US copyright laws.

I recommend expressing the complete idea in writing and registering it with the Copyright Office before pitching it to a production company, and also negotiate a contract for compensation if the production company exploits their idea without permission. The latter part may be tough to accomplish with a bigger studio or production company; however if the idea is novel, it may be worth protecting under contract law.  Typically, though, the production company provides the filmmaker with a Submission Release to sign before it hears the pitch.

nicole cameron2

As you know starting off in any industry cost money. Many of our filmmakers in the collective are taking the indie route and often a lot of their funds are going straight to the film. What are some avenues they can use to get the contracts they need if they don’t have a lawyer?

Filmmaking is a business and a huge investment for the independent filmmaker.  I understand that every cent counts, but I highly encourage filmmakers to create a budget for legal consultation.  Contracts are everywhere on the Internet, or in filmmaking reference books, but keep in mind that your situation may require more protection than what the sample contract is providing, and therefore increasing your risk for exposure.  A filmmaker may also get assistance from the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in their area. As it relates to issuing shares or membership interests in your production company, I wouldn’t recommend using contracts found online or in a reference book. I highly recommend legal consultation and representation from a securities law or film financing attorney.  Securities laws are complex and the filmmaker and company will risks exposure to civil and criminal penalties.

Switching gears a little.
What stories are you looking forward to telling as a budding filmmaker?

I am interested in telling stories that will start an honest conversations about black mental health, the prevalence of silent suffering, and the stigmas related to seeking mental health treatment.  I like to bring awareness to the everyday situations experienced by people of color and the impact these situations may have on mental health. These stories can be told through any medium, but I think the message will be more effective if it’s received in a film.  Films are viewed across a huge span of people and its psychological effects can inspire changed behavior.

What female filmmaker inspires you at the moment?

There are too many to name, but I really enjoy Issa Rae’s productions! She’s dope! ☺

What legacy do you want to leave behind as a filmmaker?

I hope my legacy will be far reaching so that people will understand who I am and my purpose.  I’m involved in a lot currently – law practice, mental health advocacy, peer support group leader of the I Love My SIS project, a woman of Delta, a mom, and so much more—but as far as filmmaking, I hope I tell stories that have the power to effect social change, especially as it relates to people of color and mental health.


This content shall not be considered legal advice, and is given for informational purposes only.  For more information, or to contact the attorney, please visit Nicole S. Cameron

Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people.


Interview with Filmmaker: Casey Gates


Tell us who Casey Gates is?

Casey Gates is an emerging writer and filmmaker, creating and spotlighting original, female-driven work through her film initiative Lady Brain. By day she works on various television sets as a social media guru, filming and capturing behind-the-scenes content for NBC. And when not hustling she loves to practice yoga, play in the sun, and attempt to make her apartment pinterest-worthy-on-a-budget chic.



Casey Gates
Photo Credit: Sabrina Hill

What inspired you to become a film director?

Ever since I was young I was fascinated with storytelling. I started in theatre and gravitated toward performing initially, while directing seemed to be this unreachable, far-off dream. Or one that might only become available if I “made it” as an actor. So while pursuing acting I was repeatedly encouraged to create my own work, and it was through that experience I realized how fulfilling and drawn to that part of the creative process I was. Performing is still a passion, but writing and directing is now my mission.

How did you learn the craft of directing? What skills are needed to be a great director (in your opinion)?

I started off directing theatre and gained a lot of confidence there to make the leap to film. The instructor I had at the time, Stuart Rogers, was pivotal in helping me find my voice and approach to shaping a story. I would direct a piece for the stage, put it up in class, and be asked to deliver my notes and work with actors in front of everyone, because you better get used to having to do that on set. Then I would receive a critique and feedback, and come back a few weeks later with my revised scene.

From my experience, the most important skill to have as a director is a clear vision. Ask yourself, “Why this story? Why now?”. Then find the balance in sticking to your vision while staying open to collaboration and input from your team.

Do you think it’s necessary that a director know the basics of the camera in order to be a successful/well rounded director?

This is definitely an area I’m trying to further educate myself on, but I don’t think understanding the technical will automatically make anyone a great director. Basically– don’t wait to direct until you have a film degree. Knowing camera and gear will serve you immensely, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with learning as you go and hiring partners and a crew that you trust and can lean on and learn from.

Lady Brain Image

How do you earn a living and sustain a career doing what you love?

I look forward to the day that I can make my living as a creative, but I also believe day jobs can be very rewarding for artists. I’ve mined some of my best stories from the different kinds of day jobs that I’ve had over the years. It places you into a community and environment you might not otherwise be exposed to, so use it. Just don’t stop that side hustle.

What do you look for when looking for a project?

Writing my own material or at least having a hand in the development has, so far, been the most effective and rewarding path for my directing so far. I geek out on breaking story and finding the blueprints. But if approached to direct someone else’s piece, I would look for something emotionally resonate for me as well as a clear reason why this thing needs to exist in the world right now and why I might be uniquely qualified to help create it.

How would you describe your process working with the actors?

I love rehearsal and definitely see that continuing to be a part of my process with actors. I understand we’re not always given that luxury, so I always hope to show up to set with empathy. Meet the actors where they are as best I can so I may guide them and give them permission to arrive to the moment and circumstances.

How has your style evolved?

When I started I think I was a bit more into lyrical and poetic styles of storytelling. But as I gain more experience, I’ve gravitated toward more subtle and clean shots and scenes that move quickly, therefore earning the moments where we linger.

What is the Lady Brain Series about?

It’s a vlog series that I created to help show what it looks like for me as a beginning filmmaker to learn, stumble, and take risks in pursing this career.

How did you connect with these other creative women and why did you all opt to utilize iPhones to capture this “Insta Film”?

It was a team of female creators who helped  Hollywood Dramedy  happen.

Katina Nikou came up with the idea originally and also wrote the piece. She is a friend of mine who is in my writer’s group and she approached me to help shape the story and to direct. With my experience working in social media, it seemed like a great way to utilize this storytelling device (literally called Stories) for narrative purposes. And mostly it was just great fun and we hope to do more!


Tell us about the project “Was It Rape Then?”. How did you become involved in this much needed conversation? Do you feel there is a certain responsibility that filmmakers have to use their voice through film to bring awareness to various topics that aren’t usually addressed?

This piece was actually directed by Kari Lee Cartwright but I came on board to help lead the online distribution and PR strategy, as well as host the film on the Lady Brain Vimeo as a presenting partner. Kari’s husband Tad produced and is also in my writer’s group, which is how I was connected to the project. (Building artistic communities is vital for collaboration and moving ahead, I believe)

And yes, I absolutely think we have a responsibility as artists to reflect the world we’re living in, for better or worse. As well as to challenge our society to see things differently. I was honored to help this film reach so many people and share an important message in an elegant and creative way.

What’s next for you?

I directed and co-wrote a short film called Girl Code (www.facebook.com/girlcodefilm) that is premiering at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival August 4th in the 7:45pm block. We are also going to be announcing a few more upcoming festival screenings soon!

Additionally, I am continuing to write my own material. I am on the second draft of an original pilot called Blissed Out which I plan to host on The Blacklist and apply for their Episodic Lab, co-hosted by Women in Film.

Watch the trailer for Girl Code here : https://vimeo.com/210675690

How can we stay connected?

Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people.