Essential Woman: Zoe Lister Jones
I hired an all-female crew on my directorial debut, Band Aid. It was incredible, and one of the most creatively fulfilling experiences of my life. Because our industry is so imbalanced when it comes to gender equity on film and TV crews, it was amazing to create opportunities for women where there are generally very few, if any at all. I have continued to hire all female crews since, both on a music video I directed and on two shorts I directed for Vogue.
"In directing my first feature, I had the opportunity to make an impact; not just to create opportunities for women, but to create a working environment in which women could feel their most confident."
I guess my hope is that my film can be used as an example of the success of hiring more women on crews for future productions. Since Band Aid, I have been contacted by a number of directors and producers asking me for references for female crew hires, which is great. I think the big issue is that women are oftentimes going to have fewer credits on their resumes than their male counterparts. Sadly, the cards are just stacked against them. How can someone gain the experience to be hired if they can't get their foot in the door to begin with? I think the greatest lesson to be learned is that hiring more women sadly, in this industry, doesn't just happen, it requires making a distinct and concerted effort to do so.
What inspired you to hire the first all-female production crew?
Having been both behind the camera and in front of it, I am frustrated by how severely underrepresented women are on film and TV crews. There were a lot of conversations in the public discourse around how staggering the imbalance is, which was important, because light is being shed on the issue, but the numbers weren't changing. In fact they were getting worse. In directing my first feature, I had the opportunity to make an impact; not just to create opportunities for women, but to create a working environment in which women could feel their most confident.
My Mom is a major inspiration. She raised me to look at the world with an eye towards injustice. She took me to protests my whole life. She taught me how to be my best feminist. And to use my voice to fight.
What advice would you give a young woman starting out and looking to make an impact?
Find a community of women (and men!) who can be not just a support system but creative collaborators in your projects. Try telling stories that are specific and that lend voices to those who aren't often given amplification.
"The greatest lesson I've learned is that when I do spend time in nature, connecting with friends, or going on a global adventure with my husband, I get my greatest ideas."
To be completely honest, that is one of my greatest challenges. Because I am a multi-hyphenate, as an actor, writer, director and producer, I am juggling a lot of projects, and potential projects, all the time. They require so much creative energy, as well as navigation of commerce and publicity. So it can be difficult for me to find my off switch. I've found I have to schedule my fun. Which sounds lame, but it's just what I have to do. The greatest lesson I've learned is that when I do spend time in nature, connecting with friends, or going on a global adventure with my husband, I get my greatest ideas.