A BRIGHTER LENS is a podcast, hosted by Jennifer Zahlit and Larkin Bell, that aims to spotlight women, trans, and non-binary folx in film at different stages in their careers through thoughtful discussion. By holding a space for underrepresented creators to share their knowledge, experience, and creative inspiration, we hope to make the process of filmmaking more accessible and cultivate a community dedicated to collaboration and support in the film industry.
The Creative Team Behind MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY
We sat down with directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West and producer Talleah Bridges McMahon to chat about their new film MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
The film takes an in-depth look at the life and ideas of Pauli Murray, a non-binary Black lawyer, activist and poet who influenced both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall.
The film comes out in theaters today (September 17) and will be available on Amazon Prime after theatrical release.
Emily Best and Seed&Spark
Emily Best is the founder and CEO of Seed&Spark, a platform that makes entertainment more diverse, inclusive, connected and essential. Over the last 8 years, Seed&Spark has developed an unprecedented pipeline of unique voices and award-winning content through its education and crowdfunding platform. Seed&Spark’s platform and national education program have helped thousands of bold storytellers raise millions to bring to life entirely new stories, and Seed&Spark delivers those stories into workplaces for employee training, engagement, and intelligence through its proprietary Impact Screening Platform.
ARIEL MARX & Rebel Hearts
This week, we chat with Ariel Marx, composer of the documentary Rebel Hearts, which premiered at Sundance this year. An eclectic composer and multi-instrumentalist, Ariel draws from many genres and often combines orchestral and rare instruments with electronics to create unique worlds of sound. Her scores have premiered in films at Sundance, TIFF, SXSW, Tribeca, Woodstock, Criterion Channel, as well as Amazon, Netflix, HBO, and is a Sundance Film Music and Sound Design Lab fellow. We really enjoyed hearing about her collaborative process with Pedro Kos (director of Rebel Hearts), discoveries she had while working on the music, and her Sundance Lab experience. Enjoy!
MEI MAKINO & Inbetween Girl
This week, we chat with writer/director Mei Makino, about her feature film debut Inbetween Girl, which just had its premiere at SXSW! For three years, Mei taught filmmaking to youth in the Austin area which inspired her to tell honest stories about kids and teens. She’s written and directed short films that have played at The Dallas VideoFest, PBS, and ESPN’s Longhorn Network, and is an AFS grant recipient. Makino is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Radio-TV and Film. Enjoy!
WHITNEY SKAUGE & The Beauty President
This week, we chat with Whitney Skauge, director of the short documentary The Beauty President, premiering at SXSW this week. The Beauty President asks the question, “If a bad actor can be president, why not a good drag queen?” In 1992, Joan Jett Blakk made a historic bid for the White House as an openly queer write-in candidate. Today, Terence Smith, the man behind the persona, reflects back on his place in gay rights history at the height of the AIDS crisis. By making this film, Whitney’s vision is to fill in one of the many gaps in the oral history of queer America. Though popular history has often swept the triumphs of gay heroes under the rug, documentary film helps us bring these incredible stories back into the light of day. As a black queer person, Whiney understands how imperative it is to share perspectives from underrepresented communities. Whitney Skauge is an award-winning filmmaker dedicated to diverse storytelling and representation. Their films act as an extension of social and political activism with hopes of helping audiences understand themselves and the world around them better. Having worked at Breakwater Studios, Women In Film, Sundance Institute, and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, their career has demonstrated a consistent commitment to the art of independent filmmaking. They received their B.F.A. in Digital Filmmaking from the University of Montana. We loved chatting with Whitney about the perseverance needed to make the film, the process, and what they hope people will come away with after watching the film. Enjoy!
BRENDA WACHEL & Script Supervision
Brenda Wachel is a veteran script supervisor. She has worked closely as a script supervisor for directors and producers including Joe Johnston, Paul Haggis, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, John Dahl, Gary Sinise, on projects such as Jurassic Park 3, Hidalgo, October Sky, and The Next 3 Days. Additionally, Brenda recently wrote, produced, and directed a Get Out The Vote video called “America, Vote!” We chat with her about all things script supervision, and about her exploration into directing. Enjoy!
Love this podcast!!
These gals are so smart, well spoken, open, honest, and curious. I love the format of their episodes. They get to the point, bring in news, keept their interviews moving and ask poignant interesting and thought provoking questions. I'm continually surprised and impressed by these ladies and their thoughtful work! THIS PODCAST IS A MUST LISTEN PEOPLE!
Two fantastic hosts with incredible chemistry that genuinely care about progressing the narrative that is women in film. Can’t say enough good things about these two ladies and their projects! This is an excellent podcast and completely worth listening to every week! Five stars!