Christianna Carmine: Director/Writer & Membership Chair, Alliance of Women Directors

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My Native Admission Statement: Hi there! I am a film director and commercial actor living in Los Angeles. Before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and Television, I obtained a Masters’ Degree in Psychology with a focus on Criminal Sociopathy, with the intention of becoming a profiler for the FBI. I abandoned that idea shortly after graduation and returned to my first love, performing. I have appeared in dozens of national commercials from Tide to Kia and have directed 7 projects to date. I am a proud Board member of the Alliance of Women Directors, one of the largest organizations that focus on the elevation and support of female filmmakers. - https://christiannacarminedirector.com/

Bio: Born and raised in New York, Christianna Carmine spent much of her early life as a stage actor who harbored a strong interest in the human condition. As she began to amass a body of stage credits, her fascination with human nature continued to grow, influencing her work as a performer, and leading her to study psychology at the graduate level. After completing her Masters’ Degree in Psychology with a focus on criminal sociopathy, Christianna continued to pursue a career in film. While working in film and as an actor, her attention became drawn towards the art of filmmaking and in 2011 produced and directed her first short, To Live and Try in LA. Christianna went on to direct several more, short films winning multiple awards for Best Director, among others. Christianna is presently in pre-production on her eighth project Enough Room a short about tolerance, written by Lauren Chavez-Meyers and based on a short story by author Bobbie Becerra.

When not working behind the camera, Christianna is passionate about human rights and environmental issues. She is on the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Women and also serves as the organizations’ Membership Chair. She also enjoys creating socially relevant content and making people laugh.

How did you get into the industry?

I distinctly recall a moment at age seven when my father heard me singing along with Julie Andrews as I watched The Sound of Music. He came running into the living room asking me who was singing! He took me to audition for my first musical not long after and thus began my long love affair with the stage and performing.

It wasn’t until I began working in film and television as an actor that my curiosity piqued with regards to directing. I would pester any director who would allow me to ask questions about what he was doing. I found myself inexplicably drawn towards making the career change to directing and threw myself into educating myself by any means I could. I read books, watched documentaries and attended every class, panel and workshop that pertained to the craft. I directed my first film in 2011 and haven’t looked back.

Any emerging industry trends?

There most definitely are emerging trends. At the moment, the journey towards gender parity in Hollywood, as well as increasing opportunities for people of color is being paved by incredible women (and some men!). Regina King’s impassioned speech at this years’ Golden Globes challenged those with the power to do so to hire more women. Geena Davis is making great strides through the Geena Davis Institute along with organizations like Alliance of Women Directors and Glass Ceiling which serve to support and elevate female directors through networking, education and mentorship. There are dozens of programs that support underrepresented populations that serve to assist participants in reaching the next level in their directing careers, particularly with regards to television. But it’s not enough. Women shouldn’t have to attend programs to increase the trust studios and networks will have in their ability; but it’s a start. The movement has started, but we have much much more to do before we see true change.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

It is no secret that Hollywood’s representation of women has been abysmal for decades. Simply watch the incredible documentary “This Changes Everything” directed by Tom Donahue and one will gain the understanding that women, whether working behind or in front of the camera, are treated as second class citizens. Throw in being a person of color or a member of another underrepresented community and you’re literally pushing multiple boulders uphill to get a single shot at opportunity.

When looking at statistics, the numbers don’t lie. For example, of the top 100 grossing films of 2018, women represented only 4% of directors (that equates to 22 male directors hired for every female) and in the 2016-2017 broadcast network TV season, 86% of all Television shows failed to hire one female director (WomenandHollywood.com). Those are frightening statistics that are unfortunately failing to change with any significance.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

Clearly the desired future of my business would be for women to have the same opportunity to direct studio film, television and commercials as men do without having to jump through countless hoops to get there. Period.

How do you motivate others?

I keep things light on my sets. I make sure my cast and crew are well fed and feel appreciated and heard. I may be the captain of the ship when shooting, but it is imperative that everyone who works with me knows they are valued and that I trust and respect them and their decisions and/or choices.

Career advice to those in your industry?

My advice to women just starting out their journey would be to surround yourself with positive people who support you. Don’t engage in hours-long discussions about “how hard it is”. Forget that. Create and keep creating. Join organizations that can support you and that you can support as well. Find your community, or as filmmaker Alex Ferrari says, “Find your Tribe”.

WORK HARD. Yes, we have to work harder than our male counterparts. At the moment, that is our reality. BE OPEN to learning constantly. Take a cinematography class (or ten classes for that matter). Take an acting class. Keep learning and expanding as it will only make you a better director. Don’t take no for an answer and ask for feedback – how can you improve?  

Take up a hobby that you love so that you have something to engage in that is outside the world of film. Practice gratitude (I’m getting a little woo woo here) even when you’re not sure how you’re going to pay the mortgage or buy groceries, because there are millions of people in the world who are facing challenges that we cannot even fathom. Being grateful for what you do have can really shift your perspective. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Ever. Your journey is yours and yours alone. Where anyone else is in their life and career is irrelevant to where you are. Be kind to yourself and finally, don’t be a d*ck. Send the elevator back down when you get to the top and help others elevate to where you are. There is definitely enough pie to go around!

What do I do best?

I listen. I love being present for others. I do believe that it is my strongest quality. I show people that I care by showing up when needed.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I’m scrappy! I am always thinking about strategy and the next step. If one door or avenue is closed, I will find another way. I also don’t leave a lot of room for negative thinking. I don’t deny that circumstances are what they are at any given time, but I don’t ruminate on the negative. I look to the horizon and envision the positive. Or to quote Dory I “just keep swimming”!

What are my aspirations?

I aspire to become more involved in activism pertaining to human rights and environmental issues. It’s one thing to attend marches and donate money. It’s something entirely different to throw oneself behind a cause with time and energy. I hope that as I grow in my career, I can use my influence for good.

With regards to my career, I look forward to directing smart, engaging television, especially programs that feature a strong female lead.

My Motto?

If I shift my perspective, what will I see that I am not seeing now?

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Frans Lanting is a National Geographic photographer, author and speaker who uses his talents to "inspire wonder and concern about our living planet".

I find myself humbled by the moments he captures in the wild, using them to bring awareness to serious circumstances that wildlife of the world face, occasionally putting himself in danger so that we may be awed and educated.

Geena Davis, Laverne Cox and Oprah Winfrey are women whom I truly admire for putting their names, energy and passion behind creating change for good.

I truly admire people like my husband, who is a superstar in his profession, possessing an unrivaled work ethic and sense of humility that many individuals would find enviable.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

The Southwest of England. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world that no-one ever tells you about!

Costa Rica and Prague.

I also love Huntington Gardens in Pasadena. It’s a little oasis in the craziness of Los Angeles where one can lose themselves for hours in the quiet beauty of the landscaped gardens, ponds and sculptures.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

What would I do without my French Press?!

My Current Passions?

Life.

My Daily Thoughts:

Goal of the Day: Do one thing that keeps my creative energy flowing.

Thought of the Day: Be kind

Action of the Day: Enjoy the outdoors

Deed of the Day: Smile at a stranger

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

At least one Iced Green tea with a splash of lemonade

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

@bossladyent @mrsejspeaks

What should everyone try at least once?

Travel to another country that isn’t on your “bucket list” -you may be surprised!

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In a good Book

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