Women Who Do Their Thing — Six Female Filmmakers You Need To Know (And Why You Need To Know Them)

Women in Film

When Beyoncé asked the question, “who run the world,” we all shouted “girls!” Though, of course, some of us prefer to be called women, ma’am, ladies, they or them. But we’ll still take it when the Queen super-charges the world with the powerful female-forward lyrics and dance beat of a song that’ll live in our heads until the day we die. Alongside the tune to Baby Shark, Kars for Kids, and Bohemian Rhapsody, of course.

It may not be the truth per se, and it may not even be the goal of a lot of women (or those who identify as women) to “run the world” as feminism, by definition, is the idea of equality. It’s an idea that sometimes gets misconstrued and misinterpreted by folks who either didn’t understand Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (read this link!) or simply fear that equality means less power for themselves. But women are more or less just looking (nay, demanding) the opportunity to equally share their perspectives, talent, and skills with the world.

Entrée female filmmakers (!!!), all ready to share their perspectives, talent, and skills openly, honestly, and without a buffer to the world. Filmmaking is a really crazy thing, if you think about it. Someone sits down to write a script and says, “I have something valuable to share with the world” and then the world gets to judge this piece of art, also without a buffer, and say, “yes, your perspective is valuable,” or “that’s a tragic perspective and watching your film was a waste of time!” Harsh stuff when folks in the independent film space spend years and even their own money to get their voices heard.

And yet…she persisted. All filmmakers do. Tiptoeing the (sometimes) mean streets of critics and reviews, practicing their Academy Award acceptance speeches in the mirror, submitting their film to countless festivals, and with noses to the grindstone, pump out something that is one of the truest ways to portray the human experience, bring people together, and viscerally share emotions. Filmmaking is a truly pure art form, especially in the indie film space, but we all owe this opportunity to excel to those who came before us.

Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” (though the earliest attribution of this goes to Bernard of Chartres) when he was speaking of his great achievements in the field of science. This is true of everyone, every race, every sex…we achieve, we grow, we learn…all from those who came before us.

Diane Garrett’s incredible 2020 article in Variety highlighted 25 Groundbreaking Female Directors, dating back to 1896 where a French filmmaker, Alice Ida Antoinette Guy-Blaché, was credited with directing one of the first narrative films. Read this article, it’s incredible. As it turns out, women have been doing their thang for a long time! There were just less of us. And there was no social media. And we were doing it as someone’s secretary, or assistant, or wife. But, as Nia Vardalos famously wrote for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “The man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases.” We’ve been pulling the strings for a while, ladies. But now we get OUR chance to be in the spotlight!

Vision Films (a female-owned and operated company, btw!) has a long history of working with female filmmakers and supporting the female voice in this fantastical art medium. Every one of them has a different story, a different struggle, a different passion. But one thing is very clear: these ladies have TALENT. They have achieved something many dream of and few ever do. They are rock stars. And they are one of the many reasons that my brand-new baby niece will grow up in a world where everything is possible for her. And I for one am grateful to them. I’m grateful to female artists, scientists, CEOS, mothers, programmers, farmers, and everyone who is out there doing their thang and living their passions.

Vision Films wants to salute some of the groundbreaking women we are proud to work with and share some of their wisdom. Please spread the love and support the women in your life. We all stand of the shoulders of giants. Be one of those giants.

Susan Kucera

Why Susan rocks: Susan has been making films since she was a wee lass and has an important mission: To save the place where we keep all of our stuff. You know… Earth. Partnering with Jeff Bridges’ production company, Susan’s film “Hot Money,” just released, and her film “Living in the Future’s Past” continues to amaze and educate people around the globe.

Shared wisdom: “Trust your instincts, ask questions, find competent collaborators and remember honey works better than vinegar.”

Jillian Clare

Why Jillian rocks: She is the youngest female to direct both a film and its successful sequel. Check out “To The Beat” and “To The Beat: Back 2 School,” both full of fun, dance, great talent, and an empowering message for the GenZ (and younger) folks out there.

Shared wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to go for it and try something new! No one knows what they’re doing until they’re in the thick of it. Filmmaking is all about expression and as long as you are proud of the work you’ve made the rest will come.”

Joyce Fitzpatrick

Why Joyce rocks: She’s from Indianapolis (so she’s clearly fantastic) and as a Black female filmmaker she focuses on diversity in the stories she tells, her cast, and who she hires and works with. Her film, “The Color of Medicine: The Story of Homer G. Phillips Hospital,” (which she co-directed with Brian Shackelford) released amidst the global pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, focuses on Black excellence, and the contribution women have made in the medical field.

Shared wisdom: “The future for woman in film has never been brighter and I make it my mission to encourage, inspire and uplift as many woman as I can. Learn from mentors, teach those aspiring to be where you are, and support those who support you.”

Nicole Conn

Why Nicole rocks: She is a prolific LGBTQ filmmaker, possibly the best on the planet, and has produced, directed, and edited eight films including “More Beautiful for Having Been Broken,” which is stunning, emotional, and will also live in your heart forever.

Shared wisdom: “People always ask me how to get started. And I always reply, One Sentence at a Time. Meaning don’t believe you have to write the great American Screenplay overnight. If you write a page a day and really craft it carefully — you’ll have a draft in a mere 3 months. Don’t let the page daunt you. Always make it fun and ALWAYS think out of the box!”

Fiona Mackenzie

Why Fiona rocks: With a background in music (and just being generally awesome), Fiona’s sassy summer rom-com, “Tell Me I Love You,” is a voice for the modern generation to pursue their dreams and live their best life.

Shared wisdom: When you have a vision and you believe in it, don’t let anyone stop you. It doesn’t matter if you have resources or even know how to get there…keep ongoing. What seems at first like an insurmountable struggle, is part of the Artist’s journey. Stay focused, stay committed and you will succeed.

Namrata Singh Gujral

Why Namrata rocks: A filmmaker and motivational speaker, Namrata focuses on socially relevant issues in all of her films, including “5 Weddings.”

Shared wisdom: — “Believe in the story you’re telling. Excellence and happiness are both acquired traits — work on them. Have confidence in your vision. Make each frame count.”

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  1. I love this article idea! Here are some women directors I want to honor: Varda Bar-Kar (my Mom), Gina Prince-Bythewood, Issa Rae, Lulu Wang, Patty Jenkins, Jane Campion, and Marielle Heller.

  2. This is a great article and I love so many of the quotes by these amazing women. They absolutely should be celebrated!

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