Women Supporting Women: Sasha Levinson walking the walk

My friend Jami Cullen, a Columbus-based actress, recently sent me an article on IndieWire that was posted in our Columbus Women’s Filmmaker group, which I greatly appreciated.

The article, by Kate Erbland, pointed out, yet again, that women in film continue to be sorely misrepresented in positions of power. Only eight percent of films currently set for release by major studios in 2017 and 2018 will be directed by women, as initially reported by The Wrap. A sad, and disappointing, statistic at this point in history, as women continue to battle hurdles for equality in the film industry.

One answer to the inequality is to have more women in decision-making positions, where they can reach down and pull other women up through the glass ceiling. And they can’t just talk the talk, they have to walk the walk. Which is why I like to highlight such women any chance I get. Once such woman is Sasha Levinson.

Sasha Levinson, l, directing “Welcome to Grandville” in Granville, Ohio, in 2016, with D.P. Kate Arizmendi. Photo courtesy http://www.sashalevinson.com.

I met Sasha, who co-wrote the feature film “The Bad Penny,” (which won The Golden Palm Award at the Beverly Hills International Film Festival and Best Feature Film at the Soho International Film Festival) at one of the Columbus Film Summit meetings and we instantly clicked. She was asking good questions about tax incentives for filming, as she commutes between Columbus, Ohio, and New York City. I, at the time, was starting my very first film project, Olsky, and was looking for a director. She was interested in the possibility but, ultimately, another project came along for her. We both agreed, I would make my debut behind-the-camera and she would support me in that role.

While I was excited and confident to direct, I was also nervous. It was my first time at the helm and I knew I was going to make mistakes. A lot of mistakes. I wanted to minimize them as much as humanly possible, so Sasha took time to mentor me, to walk me through my decisions, to help me understand the lingo and what it would be like. We had lunch at North Market and by the time we were done, I felt good about stepping on that set and putting my vision into action.

A short time later, Sasha, who wrote and directed one of four short films that comprise, A Force For Good, to support the Dalai Lama’s vision for the world, was making her own short film here in Granville, Ohio. I got a surprise call from her that they needed a production company to shoot the behind-the-scenes footage for her short, interactive film, Welcome to Grandville, and would my company, Eleven One Productions, be interested? It was a paid opportunity and it was more experience for me ~ someone who was still new to the field and learning. So, of course, I said yes, and expressed how grateful I was that she remembered me and provided me the opportunity.

And I needed every opportunity I could get, so I could learn. I was desperate for knowledge.

And what Sasha did ~ remembering, reaching back out, pulling me up, helping me along, using her experience to help me find a way, is humbling, inspiring, and an example of how women need to help and support other women. As individuals, we stay at eight percent of women in charge; but when we come together, who knows how high we can push that percentage?

Sasha is currently working on two short films for Bai and Tribeca Content Studio about people who go against the grain to follow their dreams. She also just finished a great spot for Boom Chica Pop Popcorn, which you can see here.

Oh, and that interactive film that she gave me a chance to do the behind-the-scenes work? The one that had multiple women working the set, from the D.P. to P.A.’s ~ it’s almost done. Sasha says she expects Grandville, a “story of three generations of women struggling to gain their footing in the wake of tragedy and the imprint they make on a small town,” to be completed next week.

See more of her work here.


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