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Meet Trailblazer Mary Rachel Gardner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Rachel Gardner.

Mary Rachel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by a big Greek family. I have been passionate about storytelling and entertaining since I was a little girl. Growing up with an immense amount of exposure to sports, dance, and music in my life, I matured into a young, independent artist who wanted to do nothing more than constantly create and share stories. The collaborative process with a team of amazing and humble artists is truly my happy place.

While theatre and film are significant passions in my life, I am also an advocate for the “behind the scenes” aspects of entertainment. I pursued my passions at USC and studied Acting, Business, and Film. I worked at several production companies, such as Zucker Productions, Steve Carell’s Carousel Productions, and the business affairs department at William Morris Endeavor. I even had the incredible opportunity to work as a production intern at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where I learned about the production and operation elements of running a live television show.

All of these amazing experiences have further fueled my passion for entertainment; which is why I am currently pursuing my acting, producing and directing career in Los Angeles. I founded my own production company called Kalliste Zoe Productions to explore, capture, and share the wondrous beauties in life through film and storytelling. Kalliste Zoe “Kαλλιστη Ζωή” – means “A Beautiful Life” in Greek. I am eager and ready to contribute my talents and collaborate professionally with others in the entertainment industry. I truly feel at home when entertaining others, whether I am on the stage, in front of or behind the camera. These past few years have reassured me that I have found my niche and I’m truly looking forward to balancing the creative and business adventures ahead.

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?
It’s definitely been an entertaining ride and I’m learning a lot about myself as a young entrepreneurial artist. For the most part, it has been an up and down roller coaster experience. The challenges along the way at times were intimidating but fun; I’m an athlete so I’m always up for some competition and I definitely don’t walk away without a good, fair fight. When faced with an obstacle, it’s an opportunity to step inward and trust your heart and vision. One of the biggest challenges I face daily is “keeping the lights on” while investing in my dreams. I’ve learned to develop a mixed network of business opportunities with regards to freelance work that supplements my creative endeavors.

I’ve also had some unfortunate experiences with artists, who are extremely talented, but get in their own way when they fuel ego and fear. I’ve had some abuse my generosity and essentially use my production services and creative energy/time for free. There is a point where I stopped tolerating certain behaviors and energies in my life, and established boundaries that I respected for myself in order to balance a healthy and happy life; despite what chaos was going on around me. Don’t let anyone stamp your voice or make you feel inexperienced or inferior. Any type of darkness will always be outshined. It’s important to sift and see through the clutter, in order to discover and make room for your own light to shine.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
While mostly developing comedic sketches and music videos at first, I with Kalliste Zoe Productions expanded to creating all kinds of independent content from parodies to pilots to shorts and now feature films. Kalliste Zoe Productions is an award-winning company, currently developing and packaging original content. I have a range of skill sets and services to offer from producing creative directing to packaging distribution deals and more. I love collaborating and working with a creative team on visual storytelling. My main focus as a Producer is to protect the vision and maintain a positive, fun, creative environment for all artists involved. I am a firm believer in expanding and maintaining a strong filmmaking family who genuinely support each other’s dreams. Thus sparked my motivation to create a “giving back to the arts” sector of my company, a showcase event that promotes other talented artists, as well as expand their networks and gain new audiences to entertain!

I am most proud of creating the Independent Cinema Showcase (ICS), a fundraising event for independent filmmakers in order to support, promote and share their visions. I as an independent filmmaker myself, know what it’s like to first start out; it can be an intimidating industry, where you may not know anyone or have the ample resources to truly execute your vision. Therefore, I aim to seek talented visionaries and help them access a supportive network of resources; a genuine cinema family that provides help to filmmakers long term; before, during and after the showcase event.

I along with my ICS cinema family organize three showcases a year, sharing a great program of short-form content from around the world. In collaboration with many filmmakers and companies, Kalliste Zoe Productions continues to grow a strong Cinema Family, please follow us and join our journey!

Facebook: Mary Rachel Gardner / Kalliste Zoe Productions / The Independent Cinema Showcase
IG: @MaryRachel13 / @KallisteZoe3 / @ICScinemafamily
Twitter: @MayRay1331 / @KallisteZoe3 / @ICScinemafamily

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
I am old school as much as I am a millennial. I prefer to handwrite my notes, goals, and schedule into a planner. When I need to transfer certain notes to a document, I tend to use Google Drive, especially for my collaborative projects. I highly recommend for any and all entrepreneurial artists to read the book: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It definitely reassured me that I am living my best life.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mary Rachel Gardner and Janelle Wen (Kalliste Zoe Logo), JRDS a.k.a. Jords Day (ICS Summer Edition Flyer), USC Volunteer Interns (ICS “Share Your Vision” Designs): Elisa Alfonso and Zoe Dominique Henninger, David Lewis (ICS Behind the Scenes Photographer)

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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