Posted on March 02 2016
This week's Wednesday Woman is awesome Sarah Moshman, Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and TV producer dedicated to the empowerment of women and girls. In 2013, Sarah launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to make a documentary on inspirational women which became The Empowerment Project and saw Sarah and her all-female crew driving over 7,000 miles from Los Angeles to New York over the course of 30 days, to film 17 positive and powerful women leaders across a variety of industries.
Last year Sarah then joined the inspirational Coxless Crew on their epic journey to cross the Pacific from California to Australia (the four women rowed 8446 miles every day over 9 months at sea), and hopes the film she is making about them ~ Losing Sight of Shore ~ will be out later this year. Here's Sarah's story:
Newnham: Can you tell us what you were like growing up and what sparked your interest in film/documentary making?
Moshman: I was always into the arts growing up ~ singing, dancing, acting, and by the time high school rolled around, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker.
My dad was certainly the one to spark my interest in being behind the camera as he worked in television and made documentaries for as long as I can remember. We had a dark room in our basement and I would develop black and white photographs in my free time. I was pretty shy as a kid so learning to use the camera and making films gave me a confidence and a uniqueness which I didn't find elsewhere, and I stuck with it.
Newnham: We think the Empowerment Project is incredible and hugely inspiring but what made you create it and how did it come to be?
Moshman: Thank you! The Empowerment Project really stemmed from a frustration with the media and feeling tired of the way women are represented and portrayed in the media. Female characters are often objectified, over-sexualised and a lot of times just ignored all together.
I had made a couple of short documentaries about female empowerment in young women with my producing partner Dana Cook and this felt like the natural next step in my career and in finding my voice as a filmmaker. The concept was simple - get a group of women together in a minivan and drive across the US to interview inspirational women from different careers to help support the next generation of strong girls. It was such a fun journey making it, and now sharing it with the world it has taken on a new life! We screen in schools, organizations and corporations around the US and around the world to start an important conversation about equality and empowerment today.
Newnham: In the documentary, you feature a variety of women with different careers - how did you decide which women to feature and how can our readers watch it?
Moshman: We wanted to showcase as many different women in as many careers as possible to show a full picture of what an empowered woman looks like in America today. We started with the STEM fields because we knew that's where women are really underrepresented - biology, math, engineering, etc. and then our list grew from there. We met women in the fields of law, architecture, fashion, sports, theatre, the military, the list goes on. And we found that we have so much in common as women no matter what industry we work in. We have so much to learn from each other.
Your readers can watch it by hosting their own screening of the movie in their community. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can host their own screening of The Empowerment Project to empower your community and bring people together to discuss these really important topics. For more information you can visit the website here.
Also, we will be running the 99 min version of the film on Indieflix.com from 3/24 to 3/31 in honour of Women's History Month so stay tuned for that opportunity on our Facebook page.
Newnham: The Empowerment Project was also produced by a team of women. How important is it to you to raise the visibility of women off screen as well as on?
Moshman: It is so important to celebrate and support diverse perspectives and voices in media in front of, and behind, the camera. That's the way our society can be more equal; by having more opportunities for women and people of color to see themselves reflected on screen but, also, to be the ones creating the media behind the scenes as well.
Media creators should reflect the audiences they are aiming to serve. We can all see the sheer power and influence of media in our daily lives and it's only getting stronger, so projects like ours are trying to balance things out.
Newnham: Your recent project has been with The Coxless Crew and ‘Losing Sight of Shore’ ~ how did you get involved and what can we expect from their story (also - when do you think it will be released?
Moshman: Losing Sight of Shore is my second feature-length documentary and it's the story of four women who set out to row the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Australia. Their mantra is: "We all have a Pacific to cross." To me, this film isn't about rowing at all. It's about the power of the human spirit when pushed to its limit, and what these women set out to do represents how we all hope to act when faced with adversity.
I hope to have the film done by Fall of 2016 ~ you can stay tuned for release information on our Facebook page.
Newnham: Like us, you are all about empowering girls and women but which women have inspired and empowered you the most and how so?
Moshman: I've always felt empowered by my mom Diane to be the best version of myself I can possibly be, and to stop and be proud of myself along the way. I get so caught up in moving forward and what's next, and my Mom has always been there to remind me to appreciate how far I've come and to stop and smell the roses. In general, it's women in the world and in the media that lift me up and make me want to push higher and dream bigger. I am endlessly inspired by women who go out on their own and figure things out through trial and error. That's the best way to learn.
Newnham: What advice, if any, would you give a younger Sarah?
Moshman: I think younger Sarah would be quite pleased with how my career and life is going these days, but I would encourage her to embrace her path and not worry about what anyone else is doing or thinking. Each one of us walks a path unique to us and our story and our history and the sooner we stop comparing ourselves to others, the sooner we can enjoy the fruits of our labour. That's good advice today too :)
"You can never cross an ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of shore.” Christopher Columbus