Sarah Moshman, 27, Los Angeles CA
The Empowerment Project Documentary
I directed and produced a documentary feature film called “The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things” which follows the journey of five female filmmakers as they drive across America to interview inspirational women in a wide variety of career fields. From putting on lab coats and touring around a biology lab with a distinguished scientist to brewing beer with the first female brewmaster and flying over the Golden Gate Bridge with a female pilot to sitting down with the creator of “The Oprah Show,” this film is about the transformation of the filmmakers as they meet these incredible career women—all while encouraging women to go after their dreams. The filmmakers ask the audience, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?”
Were you always interest in film, where did your interest in documentaries come from?
Ever since high school I have had a camera in my hand filming documentaries, short films and music videos. It was truly the way that I found my voice. I always knew I wanted to be in the television and film industry in some regard, and the camera was the way I was going to get in the door. Although my dreams have evolved as I’ve grown up, the core of that vision is still true for me today. I think my high school self would be proud of the woman I’ve become!
What job did you have before you started your own film company that taught you the most about running your own ship?
My first real job in television was as a story assistant on the hit ABC show “Dancing with the Stars.” I got the job fresh out of college and immediately was placed into the world of television production. I learned a lot, and fast! It was an incredible platform to learn and grow as an interviewer, a producer, and a shooter. I stayed there for 5 years (10 seasons), and was promoted to associate producer and then field producer. By the age of 23 my footage was being seen by upwards of 20 million people each week! I will always be grateful to have worked with such great people and had the time and space to find my footing as a confident producer which plays in to my skills as a documentary filmmaker today.
Do you feel that women who own their own businesses are faced with the same women-related issues as those in the corporate environment? If so, how do you overcome it?
The biggest thing we learned while we were on the road making “The Empowerment Project” was that there is a universal story of women in the workplace. No matter what industry you work in, there is some level of sexism as well as internal and external obstacles that can prevent more women from becoming leaders. Women who own their own businesses can take control of their environment and shape the workplace to suit their needs hopefully, but they may still face obstacles as a woman regarding raising money, or getting respect from other businesses or clients.
The vice admiral we interviewed in Washington D.C.,Michelle Howard, gave us some great advice. She said, “When you’re in a minority group, any minority group, you don’t have the luxury of being average.” Women have to be confident in their abilities and be leaders of their lives.
What advice do you have for those who want to make their own film/start their own business?
My advice for anyone who wants to set out on their own and make a film or start a business is to go for it! The architect we interviewed in Chicago Katherine Darnstadt told us, “Be bold and naive.” I think that’s a great way to live your life. There will always be obstacles, but if you knew all the obstacles coming your way you might never take the first step. And the greatest things in life come from the greatest struggles. I believe in earning opportunities and working hard to get what you want. But you really have to LOVE what you’re doing to make so much sacrifice personally and professionally. I would say when you find that thing, that film, that business, that passion that keeps you up at night—go for it and don’t let anyone stand in your way. Also watch “The Empowerment Project” first because it will inspire you to go after it!
What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?
What would you like Feminist Wednesday readers to know about The Empowerment Project?
I would encourage everyone to watch our trailer and read more about “The Empowerment Project” on our website and book a screening of the film in your community! Spread the empowerment to middle schools, high schools, colleges, women’s organizations,and beyond. Film is available now!