Marina Viscun is an award-winning Moldovan-American filmmaker living and working in Los Angeles, CA. Her range of experience includes film, television, digital series, branded content, commercials, and music videos. As a producer, she has been honored with Best US Documentary Premiere by Heartland Film Festival (2015), Best Documentary by NewFilmmakers LA (2015), and Best Family Film by South Dakota Film Festival (2015) for “Big Voice”, Grand Jury and Audience Awards by NewFilmmakers LA: On Location Video Project (2011) for “Ode to Los Angeles“, and Telly for “Journey to Safety” in 2011. As a writer, her feature film “Seeds” advanced into 2nd round of Sundance Screenwriting Lab in 2016 and was selected semi-finalist for The Athena List 2018, while her TV military drama “Dress Blues” has been named quarter-finalist in the Final Draft’s Big Break Contest 2017. Marina’s short “scratch on metal”, supported by LACMA and LA Public Libraries, has premiered at the San Pedro International Film Festival and her music video “Nuke City” has won the Tunected music video competition in 2014. Marina’s approach toward filmmaking combines her personal and professional experiences as an immigrant, veteran, educator, and content creator. Her goal is to introduce people to social issues through an array of projects addressing individual internal and external struggles. While having a goal to inform, Marina strives to increase entertainment factor in socially conscious media to make its products accessible and enjoyable to all.
Marina is the President of Pingvin Productions, Founder of women networking collective #WeAreWITI, and is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), Alliance of Women Directors (AWD), Veterans in Media and Entertainment (VME), and Women in Media (WiM). She currently serves as the PGA’s Events Chair for Women’s Impact Network West and as the Newsletter Editor and Facebook Curator for the AWD. Her other volunteer experience includes serving as the Chair of the Events and Programming Committee with NewFilmmakers LA and Operations Director for San Pedro International Film Festival. She has been nominated for several consecutive years for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Women’s Summit Awards since 2013 for her contributions to the LA area’s women empowerment and development through her company and her volunteer work. She likes chocolate, animals, traveling, good company, and is a US Navy veteran.
What do I do best?
I excel at being a successful multitasker. I prefer not to do everything at once, but, as they say, when it rains it pours. And I’m always ready.
My professional experiences really prepared me for that. As a former Head of Production with Pulse Films US, I focused on the work in Los Angeles across various departments (branded, music videos, TV, and film), but also worked closely with other offices in New York and London. As a producer, I switched from the creative to managerial roles constantly to be able to communicate the vision of a project and the financial ramifications that vision could create. As a college instructor, my ability to express ideas and concepts at the same time to people of various ages and backgrounds was paramount to successfully educating hundreds of people. And as a US Navy veteran, I developed the teamwork and ability to triage my situations at a moment’s notice. In my current work as a writer and director, I juggle multiple deadlines for a variety of projects in development, production and post-production. Focusing on a variety of projects at the same time helps to keep me inspired and entertained. And, of course, I cannot separate my experiences as a Moldovan immigrant from how I see and interpret the world.
So now, when I’m writing at home, directing on set, producing a pilot, working on a social media campaign, moderating a panel, or doing all of the above at once, I know what to do first and what to leave on the backburner, because the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that rushing into a situation is the worst thing one can do. If you are prepared with plans A, B, and, hopefully, C, nothing will take you by surprise, and you can continue multitasking and building a wonderful collection of work around you.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I wouldn’t be who I am today without trusting my gut: it has made a difference in my personal and professional life. I have changed my careers several times, I knew I will be with my husband after a week of knowing him, and, on a daily basis, I approach people and situations with the idea that I will know when something is right or wrong for me. We all have that sixth sense telling us to listen to it, and, if we question something, there’s probably a good reason for it. Trusting one’s gut does require an understanding on who you are and a healthy belief in oneself. I think my resume proves that moving forward and trusting your decisions is the best thing one can do.
What are my aspirations?
I love to discover new things all the time and that’s probably the nexus between my personal and business aspirations. By traveling to new places, trying new foods, meeting new people, learning new cultures, you become a better person because the depth of these experiences gives you inspiration to share what you’ve discovered professionally and as an individual. On a personal level, I want to continuously explore through books and entertainment and through actual journeys around the world how our surroundings make our experiences unique yet universal. And on a business level, I want to be able to parlay these fun explorations into stories for screen and in prose.
And who wouldn’t want an Oscar or an Emmy on their bookshelf?!
My Biggest Success?
I hope my biggest success is still ahead of me; and I see each current success as just a step towards something greater.
I’m lucky to be where I am because of the support of my family and friends who help me grow every day, providing me with encouragement, and letting me make mistakes. But it’s not just luck; it’s also hard work, figuring out what road to take next, and finding targets that are lofty and realistic at the same time.
I’m proud of my accomplishments:
• As a writer, my work has recently been noticed by Big Break 2017 where my television pilot “Dress Blues” was named quarter-finalist, while my feature screenplay “Seeds” was also noticed by The Athena List 2018, where it was a semi-finalist, and Sundance Screenwriters Lab in 2016;
• As a producer, I’m excited that one of my projects, the feature length documentary “Big Voice” I co-produced with Varda Bar-Kar, just had is Public Broadcast premiere throughout the US after a successful education and VOD distribution campaign and a great festival-circuit run (Best Documentary Premiere at Heartland Film Festival 2015, Best Documentary at NewFilmmakers LA Best of 2015, Best Family Feature at South Dakota Film Festival 2015, and many others);
• As a mentee, I’ve benefited from the guidance of the following mentors: Loretta Ramos (Hannibal, American Gods) through the Producers Guild of America, Nick D’Angelo (EVP, Crystal Pictures; VP, Fox 2000) through American Corporate Partners, and Winnie Holzman, Robin Schiff, Robert Ben Garant, and Chris Knopf through the Veterans Writing Project of the Writers Guild Foundation;
• On a personal level, my contributions to the advancement of women in the entertainment industry have been rewarded with nominations at the Women Making A Difference Summit for multiple years starting in 2013. I am proud of the work that I continuously expand on as a Newsletter Editor and Facebook Curator with the Alliance of Women Directors, Chair of Events Committee with the Women Impact Network West at the Producers Guild of America, and Founder and Host of the #WeAreWITI collective connecting women in the entertainment industry.
My Most Challenging Moment?
With greater successes come greater challenges. So, I hope that my greatest challenge is still ahead of me. But if I look back, my biggest difficulty to date has been making the decision to jump into the freelance world of entertainment after being a college instructor for a few years -- probably the best decision I ever made. Because of taking that step, I realized the freedom of scheduling my daily life, of being the agency for my own professional future, and the level of responsibility that freedom comes with.
“Give it a few hours” works really well in real life and on set.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
“That’s me… Intelligent, supportive, funny… me, me, me…”
How do I know this quote by heart? Because I’ve watched “Groundhog Day” every year on repeat on February 2nd with one of my favorite people – my husband Jonathon Michals. He inspires me to be a better person every day because of the care he shows to many, his vulnerability that makes him a Human with capital H, and his strength before the adversity that he has experienced throughout his life. My other role model is my mother, Tatiana Viscun, whose love for her profession made me realize that something so powerfully impactful and tremendously time-consuming as teaching is possible to be combined with a deeply connected personal life, and that if one wants to achieve something, the drive to do so makes the path to success so much more fun and prosperous.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
I don’t think I will ever have a favorite place or destination because each place I visit brings something new and exciting into my life, deepening my connection to the world as a whole and to the culture I’m experiencing, and leaving me inspired to explore further. I don’t even know if I have a least favorite place to visit, because that would mean I didn’t do a good job while visiting.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Books! I’m even giving horror a try, after a successful dive into sci-fi.
My Current Passions?
I LOVE writing, because it’s just me, in the world that I create, being the omnipresent, omnipotent, omni-everything. Except when my characters tell me otherwise, and I have to figure out why they disagree with me. Which is also empowering in its own way.