There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to female empowerment. One thing is for sure however, the media is failing us when it comes to spotlighting strong female role models in front of and behind the camera. It was this frustration when flipping channels in late 2012 when I decided I had the power to do something about it.
I grew up in the Midwest with a camera in my hand. Ever since high school I’ve been making documentaries, and in turn finding my voice. I love being behind the camera and capturing authentic moments between people and I believe everyone has a story to tell. I’m the kind of person that if I am passionate about something it becomes my whole world. So when inspiration struck on how to make a difference through documentary in a big way – there was nothing that would stop me.
I called my best friend and business partner Dana Michelle Cook with my idea, and instantly she was on board. The plan was to do a Kickstarter to raise funds and make a feature-length documentary focusing on ordinary women doing extraordinary things in their careers and in their lives all across the US, shoot it with an all female crew, and mentor aspiring female filmmakers along the way. Thus, The Empowerment Project was the dream, the goal, and the solution.
After raising over $28,000 through crowdfunding and extensively planning our trip, we interviewed a total of 17 amazing women along our 7,000+ mile, month long journey from Los Angeles to New York. An architect, astronaut, mathematician, congresswoman, brewmaster and TV exec are just a sampling of the range of women we had the honor of meeting. And, although their stories were varied in their path to empowerment, some common threads reaffirmed our universal story as women.
Here are three of my favorite quotes from the film:
“Be bold and naïve.” – Katherine Darnstadt, Architect
“You don’t have to find passion in your career, you just have to find pas- sion in your life. If it’s your work great, but know that passion will also become your life if it is your work.” – Mary Nguyen, Executive Chef/Restaurant Owner
“When you’re in a minority group, there’s going to be a sense of isolation. For women in particular moving into non-traditional roles and occupations, you don’t have the luxury of being average.” – VADM Michelle J. Howard
The beauty of this film is how empowerment has evolved from it in so many forms. Not only did we interview these role models and spend a day in their lives, but we also turned the camera on ourselves and captured our transformational journey as women, as filmmakers and as friends. We all re-defined what it means to be a feminist and what empowerment means in our lives. I know I am a different person than I was when I started this journey.
The power of saying “yes” to yourself is something I will carry with me forever. I am so encouraged by the power of going after what you want, and not letting anything stand in your way. There will always be a million reasons not to do something.
From the 404 Kickstarter backers that donated to the project, to the people that put us up on our journey across the US, to the warm response we have received from our trailer, it’s a beautiful thing when you empower yourself, are vulnerable to whatever may come from it and are in turn empowered by others.
The best films ignite a conversation, and that’s exactly what we hope to do. Nothing is going to change if we don’t start addressing the problems that exist in the media and take control of some of the content that is released. There is no question that entertainment affects all of our lives, and our hope is that The Empowerment Project does just that: encourages girls all over the US to not only go after their career ambitions, but to confidently lead their lives in the direction they choose despite the negative messages and objectification that has become a conscious and unconscious theme in our landscape.
One part of my empowerment journey may be coming to an end in directing the film, but the next journey of empowering others through the film is one I am so grateful and honored to now take.
What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid to fail?
Sarah Moshman is an Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker on a mission to empower women. She is currently directing the upcoming documentary The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things. Sarah is passionate about filmmaking, female empowerment and activism and thinks that this film will ignite conversations all over the US to improve the lives of women. She has also worked as a field producer in reality TV for ABC, NBC, MTV, Bravo, and the Food Network. Follow her on Twitter @SarahMosh, and follow the project @EmpowermentDocu. Don’t forget to check out The Empowerment Project on Indieflix.