Becky Smith: Emmy®-nominated television, feature director & Vice Chair & Head of Production in the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media at UCLA

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Becky Smith is an Emmy®-nominated television and feature director. She has directed pilots and series for ABC Family, Bravo, Disney Channel, Fox, Lifetime, NBC, and PBS, and created the MTV series “Parental Control.” She teaches directing and screenwriting and is Vice Chair & Head of Production in the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media at UCLA. In 2004, Professor Smith was Emmy-nominated for directing Bravo’s "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," which won the Outstanding Reality Program Emmy the same year. Her 2009 feature comedy “16 to Life” is distributed by Warner Brothers Digital and is widely available on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and many other platforms. The film received nine best feature and/or best of festival awards internationally. In 2012, she launched a web series, “Sloppy Tacos.”

Professor Smith's documentary work includes a PBS “Frontline” episode, “In the Game,” which was named Best Television Documentary of the Year by American Women in Radio and Television, the 2008 feature documentary “The Daring Project” chronicling the final chapter in dance for five principal dancers from the Bolshoi, Kirov, ABT and New York Ballets. Smith is in the final throes of post production on her second feature “August in Berlin”, shot on location in Germany. Professor Smith has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Artist’s Colony and has received grants from Women in Film, the California Arts Council and the American Film Institute. She is an alumnus of the Directing Workshop for Women and the Movie of the Week Writer's Workshop at AFI. She received her MA in film from Stanford University.

What do you do best?

I am happiest when I am creating something that is personal and that expresses my experiences of the world in a way that resonates with other people. But I am probably best at taking naps.

What makes you the best?

I am not the best screen writer or film director but I strive to “do my best” to be professional, original and honest in my work, and make films that speak to audiences emotionally.

What are your aspirations?

To make half a dozen more feature films before age and physical limitations stop me. Five would be great if I can’t get to half a dozen.

Biggest Success?

Success in other people’s eyes might be my directing Emmy nomination - and the show winning an Emmy. But my biggest personal successes are when I achieve my best in something that scares me mightily — like making my first feature, running my first marathon or even directing a scene in front of my students, and having them become excited about the new knowledge they are accruing.

Most Challenging Moment?

Having my first film picked up by PBS FRONTLINE, then dropped by PBS FRONTLINE, then picked up again after I convinced them they should air it.  The rejection taught me that you can’t take ‘no’ for an answer if you believe.  The doc went on to strong reviews nationally.

Favorite Motto?

I have two - “If you don’ get rejected at least twice a week, you’re not really trying” and “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”.  Okay, and one more, tried though true “It’s the journey, not the destination”.

Favorite People?

Very funny people who are also empathetic.  Favorite people - Jonathan Winters,Primo Levi, Joni Mitchell, Christopher Durang, Charlotte Bronte, David Hockney, Odetta, and Shirley Hazzard. There are more. Many more.

Favorite Places?

The American West, all deserts, white sand beaches, NYC, Paris, the top of all Colorado “fourteeners", my bed.

Favorite Products?

Good swim goggles, Staedtler drawing pens, Bialetti espresso machines, pee pads for old dogs

Current Passions?

Looking at Khotan rugs on ebay that I can’t afford, still photography, graphic novels, Sufjan Stevens