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Meet Trailblazer Liz Manashil

Today we’d like to introduce you to Liz Manashil.

Liz, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Hi! I’m happy to!

I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was 16 after seeing a super pretentious French film and I’ve been taking a leap of faith ever since then. I have made two features, a bunch of shorts and music videos and I directed and produced a TV show for Hulu/PBS for several years.

I work at Sundance as the Manager of our Creative Distribution Initiative, which means I manage our fellowship, the Creative Distribution Fellowship, I spend time talking with independent filmmakers about their marketing and release strategies, audience building, and ways to keep their budgets low. My passion is filmmaking and I hope to keep making films for the rest of my life.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
You know, I am very grateful for all the work I’ve been able to participate in. I am very grateful to have gotten two features off the ground with the support and hard work of the teams we’ve gathered together. I am incredibly proud of the work I’ve put out because it came from me and my team. I would say, it’s not been a smooth road but it’s been a road filled with hard work and a lot of follow up emails, pushy-ness, diligence, passion…. and neuroses.

The hardest part of the road is managing your own expectations. You gotta try for the best – the best festivals, the best grants, the best representation. If you experience a lot of ‘no’s,’ that’s fine. We all do! But you gotta keep going. Make quality work, be respectful, and pivot pivot pivot.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m a microbudget feature writer/director who happens to also help produce and cast her work. I would say the majority of my work has a degree of fantasy to it, whether we want to call that surrealism or dreams or whimsy, but are pretty dialogue based and usually focus on romantic relationships and conflicts.

My work is pretty personal, and even if the stories are exported into absurd worlds – the core of the story comes from my life. I love to talk about and empower independent storytellers to get more involved with microbudget filmmaking. I feel like I lived an emotionally frustrating life until I got my footing in film – and was very scared of making movies before I started doing it. My goal is to help remove that fear for others and to break down how I did things in a really practical piecemeal way with things that I write, panels and one on one meetings.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I focus more on the barriers to lower budget filmmakers. Women are just one group of people who aren’t getting the access they need to the gatekeepers, jobs, opportunities all artists need. I focus on talking with storytellers anywhere on the gender spectrum and how they need to fulfill their emotional lives by making work – and to keep budgets low so they can stay in the industry longer and have a better chance for a sustainable career.

It’s hard out there for an artist these days. I wish I knew the answers.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Amy Taylor

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