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Zoe Lister-Jones does everything—she’s a writer, director, producer and actor. She made her directorial debut with the film “Band Aid,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. Lister-Jones also wrote, produced and starred in the film and hired an all-female production crew to work on it. Now, she is adapting “Band Aid” for the stage.

#WeFilm Q+A: Zoe Lister-Jones

#WeFilm Q+A: Zoe Lister-Jones

Zoe Lister-Jones does everything—she’s a writer, director, producer and actor. She made her directorial debut with the film “Band Aid,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. Lister-Jones also wrote, produced and starred in the film and hired an all-female production crew to work on it. Now, she is adapting “Band Aid” for the stage.

Great Big Story: In your opinion, why is there a lack of female leaders in the filmmaking industry?

Zoe Lister-Jones: I think the system has been broken for a very long time and the biases toward allowing new voices in are just so deeply ingrained in the power structure. The good news is the discourse is changing and there’s a lot more awareness around inclusivity—but putting that awareness into action is the challenge we’re still facing.



GBS: What inspired you to begin directing and making “Band Aid”?

ZLJ: I had been making films with my partner, Daryl Wein, for nearly a decade as a writer and producer, and so I had been exercising the filmmaking muscle for enough time that I was ready to take the next step and helm my own feature.



GBS: You made the decision, which some consider bold, to hire an all-female crew for “Band Aid.” Why did you do this?

ZLJ: I saw how stacked the decks were against women in all positions behind the camera, and I saw the hiring processes on film sets that were not allowing for change. Again, because the system has been so broken for so long, when people were in the position to hire department heads and crew members, they were going with candidates who had the most experience or who they had worked with before, and those were almost exclusively men. The catch-22 was how can women gain the experience to be trusted in these positions if they’re never allowed in the door to begin with? I knew that if I didn’t set the precedent of hiring all women, even as a woman myself, I would fall victim to those same traps.



GBS: What was it like to have an all-female crew?

ZLJ: It was awesome. I highly recommend it.



GBS: What was the crew’s reaction when they realized it was an all-female crew?

ZLJ: It was both thrilling and incredibly meaningful for so many of these women that I had hired, who had oftentimes been the only woman on a set, to now be one of so many.



GBS: Have you suffered any backlash for having an all-female crew?

ZLJ: I didn’t suffer backlash, and I think if I had it would’ve opened up a necessary dialogue around inclusivity since hiring practices are so innately discriminatory as they are. Anyone who questions practices that prioritize inclusivity, in my mind, are a part of the problem.



GBS: What still has to change to level out the playing field between men and women in filmmaking?

ZLJ: There are so many incredible women doing amazing work in film and TV right now, and I do think there are a lot more opportunities than there have been in the past, but the imbalance is still staggering. People in positions of power need to continue to be incredibly disciplined in their hiring practices and be held accountable. Those people aren’t malicious, it’s just a vicious cycle that won’t be fixed until people start walking the walk rather than just talking the talk. And that’s not just when it comes to hiring female directors and writers, but female department heads and crew members as well.



GBS: What advice would you give to aspiring female filmmakers?

ZLJ: I think a lot of women struggle with being perfectionists and not believing that they have all the tools necessary to create just as they are, but that’s only because we haven’t been encouraged to do so. Find a community of artists that you can make work with. Start small, whether it’s a short or a webisode. Just start getting into the practice of creating. And creating with confidence.



GBS: What’s one thing the general public could do today to help women in the industry?

ZLJ: Support female filmmakers by going to see their films on opening weekend. People forget how important a film’s opening is to its success and the success of its filmmaker, and the spotlight is always a lot brighter on the box office when women are at the helm.

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