IFH always like to highlight a diverse group of filmmakers from all walks of life. We put together the top female filmmakers we have had the pleasure of speaking to on the show. These conversations are inspiring and full of knowledge bombs that anyone wanting to be a filmmaker could take something away from. Enjoy!
Marta Kauffman is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television writer, director, producer and showrunner behind the hit series Friends and Grace & Frankie. After graduating from Brandeis University, Kauffman got her big break alongside David Crane when their pilots Dream On (1990) and The Powers That Be (1992) were greenlit. The pair then launched Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions with Kevin Bright and became the trio that created the iconic sitcom Friends.
Kyra Sedgwick is an award-winning actress, producer and director. She is best known for her Emmy and Golden Globe-winning role as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the TNT crime drama “The Closer” and most recently starred on the ABC comedy “Call Your Mother.” She recently directed the feature film SPACE ODDITY, which stars Kyle Allen and Alexandra Shipp.
Her film roles include THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, THE POSSESSION, THE GAME PLAN, SECONDHAND LIONS, WHAT’S COOKING, PHENOMENON, HEART AND SOULS, SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and SINGLES.
3. Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria has long established herself as one of the most sought after television directors in Hollywood. Named by Variety as one of their most anticipated directors of 2021, Longoria continues to hone her craft, seek new projects, and expand opportunities for others by paving the way for future women and minority producers, directors and industry leaders in Hollywood and beyond.
Her strong work ethic coupled with her passion for storytelling has led to a pivotal moment as she prepares for the release of her feature film directorial debut with Flamin’ Hot. She recently wrapped production for the highly anticipated Searchlight biopic about the story of Richard Montañez and the spicy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos snack for which she beat out multiple high profile film directors vying for the job.
Eva became well known worldwide thanks to Desperate Housewives, where she played a main character, Gabrielle Solis.
Today on the show we have Katie Aselton. She is an acclaimed actor and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She may be best known for her starring role as Jenny in the FX comedy “The League.” Aselton can next be seen in Bill Burr’s comedy Old Dads. She was recently seen in The Unholy, opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and appeared in Tiller Russell’s Silk Road, with Jason Clarke. Aselton was also seen in the second season of the hit Apple + series “The Morning Show.”
Our guest today is a triple threat. Actress, filmmaker, and writer, Zoe Lister-Jones, who made headways in 2017 with her all-female crew directorial debut, Band-Aid. The decision was inspired to foster new creative experiences amidst the staggering inequity on sets. A couple who can’t stop fighting embarks on a last-ditch effort to save their marriage: turning their fights into songs and starting a band. The comedy-drama film, starring Zoe, Jesse Williams, and her New Girl co-star, Hannah Simone premiered at the 2017 Sundance Festival.
Some of Zoe’s most known acting roles include some of your favorite sitcoms like New Girl, Whitney, or Life In Pieces. I have watched Life in Pieces with my family many times and it remains a favorite. Zoe’s love for performing and writing goes back to high school which set the foundation for a scholarship ride in NYU. Even though the film is what she’s most known for now, Zoe has a background in music and theater. In 2009 she co-wrote and produced, her first screenplay, Breaking Upwards with Daryl Wein on a $ 15,000 budget. The film explores a young New York couple who, battling codependency, strategizes their own breakup.
Today on the show we have award-winning filmmaker, actress, author, speaker, women in film activist and force of nature Naomi McDougall Jones. Many of the IFH Tribe might remember Naomi from her first appearance on the show talking about her distribution adventures with her film Bite Me. You can listen to that episode here: Making Money Self Distributing Your Indie Film with Naomi McDougall Jones
Bite Me, is a subversive romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits her. The film premiered at Cinequest, won Best Feature Film at VTXIFF, and then went on to the innovative, paradigm-shifting Joyful Vampire Tour of America in summer 2019, a 51-screening, 40-city, three-month, RV-fueled eventized tour that involved Joyful Vampire Balls, capes, a docu-series and a whole lot of joy.
Naomi’s first book, The Wrong Kind of Women: Inside Our Revolution to Dismantle the Gods of Hollywood, is now available wherever books are sold in hardcover, audiobook, and e-book. It debuted as the #1 New Release on Amazon. It is a brutally honest look at the systemic exclusion of women in film—an industry with massive cultural influence—and how, in response, women are making space in cinema for their voices to be heard.
7. Sonja O’Hara
Sonja O’Hara is an Emmy-nominated queer writer, director and actor represented by WME and Management 360. She was chosen as one of the “10 Filmmakers To Watch” by Independent Magazine, selected by a jury from MovieMaker Magazine, the Sundance Institute and Austin Film Festival. (Past recipients include Barry Jenkins of MOONLIGHT.)
Sonja just directed two back to back features which are currently completing post-production: MID-CENTURY, a provocative thriller starring Stephan Lang (DON’T BREATHE) and two time Academy Award® nominee Bruce Dern, produced by Jeremy Walton (THE INVENTOR with Marion Cotillard), and ROOT LETTER, an adaptation of the popular Japanese PlayStation game, written by Tribeca Film Festival Narrative Prize winner David Ebeltoft and starring Danny Ramirez of THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.
We are joined by indie film icon and Oscar® nominated writer/director Richard Linklater. Richard was one of the filmmakers who helped to launch the independent film movement that we know today with his classic 1991 indie film Slacker. As a bonus, we will not only dive into the extraordinary career of Richard Linklater but also that of collaborator and longtime friend writer/director Katie Cokinos, the filmmaker behind the film I Dream Too Much.
Nora Fingscheidt was born in 1983 in Germany and spent her youth partly in Argentina. From 2003 onward she participated in the development of the self-organized film school filmArche in Berlin. At the same time, she completed her training as an acting coach under Sigrid Andersson. Nora studied fiction directing at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg.
Today on the show we have writer and director Krystin Ver Linden. She has always steered the course of her career and her life with her love for film, and it shows through her work. She was recently chosen as one of Variety’s2022 “10 Directors to Watch,” a coveted honor. Ver Linden’s script Ride sold to Lionsgate with Joey Soloway attached to direct and was featured on the Black List. She went on to sell numerous scripts as well as the pitch Love in Vain, an unconventional biopic centering around blues music pioneer Robert Johnson. The pitch is set up at Paramount with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mike Menchel and multiple-Grammy-winning recording artist Lionel Richie producing.
Today on the show we have writer, director and producer Lissette Feliciano. She is a Tribeca Film Institute AT&T Untold Stories grant recipient, was named as one of Shoot Magazine’s new directors to watch, and has served as an ambassador for The Wraps Power Women Summit.
Her production company Look at the Moon Pictures develops original content that shines a hero’s lens on underrepresented groups, joining the ranks of creators filling the market gap in storytelling for a new young multicultural audience.
Under Lissette’s leadership, Look at the Moon was among the first production companies to mandate 50% BIPOC representation across leadership positions on and off-camera – a metric they are proud to consistently achieve. An avid supporter of young women’s education, she sits on several committees for an all-girls high school serving low-income students in her hometown of the Mission District of San Francisco.
12. Chloe Okuno
Today on the show we have writer/director Chloe Okuno. Chloe is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a masters degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory. There she received the Franklin J. Shaffner Fellow Award, and directed the award-winning horror short film SLUT. Her recent work includes writing a remake of “Audrey Rose” for Orion Pictures and writing and directing a segment of the anthology series V/H/S/94. She’s the director of this year’s Sundance feature film Watcher.
13. Carlson Young
Today on the show we have writer, director and actress Carlson Young. Carlson is the creator of the new film The Blazing World. Ever since Margaret (Carlson Young) was six years old, she has been haunted by the memory of watching her sister drown during an explosive fight between her parents. As a young woman, she slides further into her twisted inner life, ultimately finding herself on the brink of suicide. Through an epic journey down the smokiest and scariest corridors of her imagination, she tries to exorcise the demons pushing her closer and closer to the edge.
The Blazing World is Carlson Young’s debut feature; it is based on her short of the same name, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Young brings to life in striking vibrancy an internality that is at once darkly beautiful and entirely terrifying.
14. Jen McGowan
Today on the show we have writer/director Jen McGowan on the show. We discuss the state of women directors in Indie FIlm, her new film Rust Creek and what it is really like to be a female director, from her perspective in today’s world.
Jen McGowan is a director based in Los Angeles. Her first feature KELLY & CAL (Juliette Lewis & Cybill Shepherd) premiered at SXSW where she won the Gamechanger Award. The film was released theatrically by IFC Films to rave reviews. McGowan got her start with award-winning short films, CONFESSIONS OF A LATE BLOOMER and TOUCH, both of which played at over a hundred festivals worldwide. TOUCH qualified for the Oscar when it won the Florida Film Festival.
15. Diane Bell
Diane Bell is a screenwriter and director. Made for less than $150k, her first feature film, OBSELIDIA, premiered in Dramatic Competition at Sundance and won two awards. The film went on to win further awards at festivals around the world, and to be nominated for two prestigious Independent Spirit Awards. Her second film, BLEEDING HEART, a drama starring Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and is widely available. She is currently in post on her third feature, OF DUST AND BONES.
She has written numerous commissioned and optioned scripts, including two with renowned director John McTiernan (the director of Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October). In addition to writing and directing films, Diane with her producing partner Chris Byrne is a founder of the Rebel Heart Film Workshop program, in which she teaches step by step how to make a standout indie film. She also teaches at Denver’s Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and honest experiences of filmmaking so that up and coming filmmakers can make better movies and create sustainable careers.
Today on the show we have directors Megan Petersen & Hannah Black. They are the winners of the Seed and Spark/Duplass Brother Hometown Heros Contest. Here more about this remarkable contest.
Join us for an opportunity to have your feature film executive produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, Salem Street Entertainment, and UnLTD Productions and be eligible for a total of $50,000 in no-interest loans for your narrative or documentary feature. Whether you’re from a small town, the suburbs or a special corner of a major city, now is the time to bring your hometown-centered story to the screen.
Their film is called DROUGHT. Join Sam, her Autistic brother Carl, estranged sister Lillian & friend Lewis, as they try to navigate life in a small town. It’s 1993 and the south is in the worst drought in history but Carl is fascinated by weather. Hoping for a better life, they steal an ice-cream truck to become storm chasers.
We sit down and discuss all things indie film, what it was like to direct this film while having the guidance of indie film legends like Jay and Mark Duplass.
Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Megan Petersen & Hannah Black.
So you made a short film, now WTF do you do? Today guest is filmmaker Clarissa Jacobson and she is the perfect person to guide you through the rough waters of getting your short film out to the world. Clarissa is the writer, producer and creator of the multi-award-winning comedy/horror short – Lunch Ladies – based on her feature. The film garnered forty-five awards and is distributed all over the world.
Her follow up short – A Very Important Film – also got distribution. Her optioned feature screenplay, Land of Milk and Honey, is in development with Elizabeth Avellan and Gisberg Bermudez. In addition, Clarissa wrote a book – I Made a Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It: A Guide to Film Festivals, Promotion, and Surviving the Ride.
18. Rebecca Eskreis
I am pleased to have on the show this today, the gracious Rebecca Eskreis.
Rebecca has had a thrilling path to her dreams of filmmaking. Now a director, writer, producer, teacher, and film consultant whose projects have been recognized by huge platforms like SXSW, TIFF, SIFF, deadCenter, Savannah, Munich, Stockholm, and film Thessaloniki festivals, she’s surpassed her childhood dream.
Last year, Rebecca wrote, produced, and directed her latest film, What Breaks The Ice—a coming of age thriller about two 15-year-old girls, Sammy and Emily, who hark from different worlds but strike up a quick and deep friendship during summer break in 1998, set against the backdrop of a world consumed by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But what should be the best summer of their lives takes an unexpected turn when they become accidental accomplices in a fatal crime.
What Breaks The Ice was her directorial debut project. For which she was awarded the Sandra Adair/Empowering a Billion Women Grant for promising female filmmakers from the Austin Film Society, and was selected for the Austin Film Society’s Artist Intensive, hosted annually by Richard Linklater. The project was also a finalist for the 2016 Mayor’s Office of New York/Women in Film/Producers Guild Financing Lab. The film will be released by Cinedigm in the fall of 2021.
19. Heather Turman
I am delighted to have as a guest on the show today, Filmmaker, comedian and podcaster, Heather Turman. She’s the creator and writer of the feature film, Stuck, starring Joel McHale, Heather Matarazzo, and SNL’s Chris Redd. And the host of the Indie Women Podcast on Youtube.
Darby finds herself in trouble with the law and is sentenced to house arrest. Now she must serve 30 days in the home she used to share with her ex-boyfriend, which he now shares with his new fiancee.
Heather has appeared in films like La-la Land, or the 2019 TV series, The Room Actors: Where are they now. At age 18, Heather moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for entertainment. And she’s since built a successful career as a comedian, writer, and producer — one that has taken her touring to over 75 cities across the USA. She is an LA Westside Showdown two times top-finalist and has appeared on the FOX series Laughs and the Seed & Spark original Everything Is Fine! stand-up comedy special.
20. Lynn Novick
Since seeing one of her first documentaries, I was transfixed by her power of storytelling. Our guest is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker, Lynn Novick—a formidable and respected PBS documentary filmmaker with thirty-plus years of experience in the business.
Her archival mini and docu-series documentaries bring historically true events to the big screen alongside her filmmaking partner, Ken Burns.
You’ve most likely seen some of her landmark documentary films. The likes of Vietnam (2017), TV Mini-Series documentary The Civil War (1990), College Behind Bars (2019), eighteen hours mini-series, Baseball (2010), and many more. All are available on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel.
Just this year, the pair premiered their latest co-produced and co-directed three parts documentary on PBD—recapitulating the life, loves, and labors of Ernest Hemingway. The series explores the painstaking process through which Hemingway created some of the most important works of fiction in American letters.
Bonus: Judy Weston
Today guest is the legendary writer and educator Judith Weston. Her book Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & TelevisionandThe Film Director’s Intuition: Script Analysis and Rehearsal Techniquesis a must-read for any film director.
Judith consults one-on-one with directors and writer-directors of film and television as they prepare to bring their projects to life. Some of her students include Alejandro Iñárritu, director of The Revenant, Academy Award winner for Best Director, and Birdman, Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Director; Ava DuVernay, nominated for 16 Emmys and six Critics Choice Awards, and Selma, nominated for Best Picture Oscar; Steve McQueen, director of Best Picture Academy Award winner12 Years a Slave; Taika Waititi, writer-director of Jojo Rabbit, Thor Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and many more.
Literally thousands of film and television directors, screenwriters, writer-directors, and actors around the world have attended Judith’s workshops or consulted with her in preparation for their projects. Judith’s reputation and influence are international and well-established.
After 30 years of teaching workshops and classes, Judith, in 2015, closed her studio space and shifted her focus to one-on-one consultation for directors and writer-directors.
Her ground-breaking book Directing Actors was published in 1996. Judith’s second book, The Film Director’s Intuition, was published in 2003. Both books are written from the point of view of film directors. And directors all over the world have come to rely on them. But so many others have told me they have found them helpful—screenwriters, actors, professionals in film, television, photography, theater—and really anyone who wants to live creatively. She recently undertook a thorough revision and updating of her signature work, Directing Actors (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSION), in order to make it available as an Audiobook. Judith herself is the narrator.
Enjoy my insightful conversation with Judith Weston.