Creator Spotlight with Writer and Director Zandashé Brown

This week we’d like to introduce you to writer and director Zandashé Brown. Her latest short film, BENEDICTION, was a finalist for the 2020 Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program, and she was also named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2022. You can follow Zandashé on both Instagram and Twitter.

What was the inspiration behind becoming a creator? What do you enjoy the most about the creative process?

I think I just always have been a creative person. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling stories to people around me in some capacity or another. Fortunately, I was allowed to nourish the creativity for myself without challenge (and even with support!) from friends and family. It’s the way that I — and I think everyone — make sense of the world around me and of myself. My favorite part of the process is when the universe gives me my next big obsession. It’s like a task to learn about something, usually a lesson monumentally important to my life at that given time, and translate it into story so it can be useful to someone else, too.

Can you talk about your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?

It’s hard to put a timeline to creativity but sometimes you have to and there can be few greater motivators than an upcoming application deadline. That said, you can’t rush greatness. Sometimes you have to make the difficult choice between the opportunity’s needs, which may cost you some quality, or the project’s strength, which might cost you the opportunity. It’s always a difficult decision, but I’m learning consistency helps you straddle the two. All of my work, even the short films that haven’t yielded immediate financial gain, have opened doors to even greater opportunity. Everything is worthwhile when you put the work in.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?

I’m a writer/director and I think people tend to believe we walk around waiting for someone to give us the next big idea so we can turn it around into a blowout film. The truth is, we’re always bubbling with creativity and there are often more ideas in our head than there is time to produce them. I’m not saying I’d never be interested in creating ideas outside of my own – I have before. But it takes a long time to make a film. Naturally, you’re going to want to spend that time with ideas of your own that resonate on a deep, personal level.

What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something that you’ve invested your intellect, time, and money into?

Fortunately, this hasn’t happened to me on a major level. But I once had this tweet that went very viral on the internet and resonated with a lot of people – it was about my weariness of having resilience placed upon me. As expected, there were many imitators who repurposed the words or posted them again as their own. Some even made Tik Toks or staged performances without accreditation. I wouldn’t have thought something like this would bother me so much, it’s the internet after all, but it made me think about what it means to put an idea out into the world and have someone else claim it. It made me want to share less of my work. What if something like this happened at a bigger level? It was a lesson about visibility for me and what it comes from. Now I’m thinking about how everything I put out into the world could be stolen and how to protect it. It’s another step in the development process of any idea that should be taken seriously.

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