What is your name, age, and location?
Shiphrah Meditz, age 21. I spend my time between New Zealand and the U.S.A.
What is your profession?
I write, direct, and produce narrative films. I am CEO and Founder of Meditz Productions, a film company based in Austin, Texas. Our motto is “to connect people through the imaginative universe of stories.”
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I am a second-year undergraduate at the University of Auckland, New Zealand where I am completing a double major in Anthropology and English.
What was your first job?
During high school, I worked as a behind-the-counter sales operator at Kruger’s Diamond Jewelers, in Austin, Texas. I also have taught piano and worked as a freelance writer.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
Growing up, I staged plays with my siblings, narrated books on tape (along with appropriate sound effects made with household implements!), and wrote/ illustrated innumerable stories. During my last semester in Westlake High School, I was asked by a friend to write a short script warning teenagers about the dangers of intoxication. I had never even read a screenplay before, but I gave it a shot. The resulting film won a placing in a local festival. Four weeks later, I finished my first feature screenplay “Catharsis” and debuted it at an Austin Screenwriter’s reading for feedback. In the following two years, I wrote multiple shorts and a few feature screenplays, helped judge the Screenplay competition for the 2010 Austin Film Festival, and worked in a variety of film events across the Austin area, all to “get a foot in the door.” I was even fortunate enough to get one of my screenplays, a musical based on Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, shown to Mariah Carey for consideration. However, I grew tired of always waiting on someone else to green-light my screenplays. So, in 2011, I decided to produce and direct my films. A few months later, my debut short “Leah’s Choice” was completed in Auckland. Since then I’ve directed another short “Where Snakes Roam.” In January 2012, I directed a charity music video (now in post-production), which is dedicated to the victims of the 2011 wildfire in Bastrop, Texas. Currently, I am filming my first feature entitled “The Dying Eye.”
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
It’s impossible to say. Every project I’ve worked on has been a fantastic experience.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
As difficult as it may sound, I try to keep my gender out of my career. Focusing upon my interactions with fellow artists to make the best story that we possibly can, is my #1 priority in filmmaking.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
Though I have had more sexist incidences than I care to remember, they have never hurt my career, to my knowledge. I’ve always found many talented people who love film and are eager to work with me to bring a project to life.
Please say a few words about your experience with the work-life balance.
I’m known as a “workaholic,” a term I intensely dislike, since I love what I do. For me there is no separation between “work” and “life,” especially since many of my family members and friends are also pursuing careers in the film industry. My life is a continual stream of watching, reading, studying, and otherwise obsessing over stories from books, comic strips, conversations, blogs, and of course, films! Right now, I plan to finish my feature “The Dying Eye,” graduate university in 2013, and head to New York to continue my film career. I consider filmmaking to be the closest medium we have available to us currently (short of more interactive forms of storytelling such as the alternate reality game Pandemic 1.0, or emotions-driven video games like Heavy Rain), to give the viewer a complete immersion in the story’s world. Thus, my long-term career goal is to find a way to narrow the gap between the audience and the screen to allow for the best sensory experience possible, while not sacrificing the quality of the story.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
I view mentorship as a symbiotic experience I have with my surroundings; everything and everyone can contribute if I am looking for answers to whatever problem I am working on. My most creative moments have come from experiences that have nothing directly to do with film. In January 2012, I was in the park watching a flock of birds gathered round a man who was feeding them. I was reminded of philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon and began to wonder how I could write a fresh perspective on a surveillance society in an alternate reality. Three weeks later, I had finished the rough draft for “The Dying Eye.”
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
If you want to work in film, get started today, even if it’s just writing down what you want to achieve.
Follow Shiphrah on Twitter: @ShiphrahMeditz
– Interview by Elena Rossini
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