Stephanie Johnes is a director, producer, and documentary filmmaker who gravitates towards tales of underdogs and dreamers. Her directorial debut, “Doubletime,” premiered at SXSW and Tribeca and was acquired by Discovery Movies. She served because the Director of Images for “Venus & Serena,” the Magnolia Footage and Showtime movie in regards to the iconic Williams sisters.
“Maya and the Wave” is screening on the 2022 Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition, which is working from September 8-18.
W&H: Describe the movie for us in your individual phrases.
SJ: After a brush with dying, Maya Gabeira makes historical past within the male-dominated world of huge wave browsing. The movie is an empathetic portrait of a girl combating to realize her dream whereas struggling towards gender bias.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
SJ: I used to be interested in massive wave browsing, and what it should be wish to be one of many few ladies within the sport.
I believe I used to be drawn to Maya as a result of I can relate to her struggles, and I hope that viewers will see themselves in her story as nicely.
W&H: What would you like individuals to consider after they watch the movie?
SJ: Folks often take into consideration their very own struggles with prejudice and really feel validated after watching this movie. I hope they can even really feel empowered to face up for themselves.
W&H: What was the largest problem in making the movie?
SJ: The most important problem was the timeline. Once I met Maya I didn’t understand how lengthy it could take for her story to unfold. Seems it was 10 years.
W&H: How did you get your movie funded? Share some insights into how you bought the movie made.
SJ: The movie was initially self-funded. After the story had confirmed itself, financiers got here on board.
W&H: What impressed you to turn into a filmmaker?
SJ: I couldn’t resolve on a profession, so fairly than select, I pursued journalism in order that I’d have an excuse to find out about something and every little thing.
W&H: What’s one of the best recommendation you’ve obtained?
SJ: The most effective recommendation I’ve obtained is to be your self. As a filmmaker, you’re typically a fish out of the water, in unusual environments, and it at all times helps to simply be your genuine self, even for those who don’t slot in.
W&H: What recommendation do you might have for different ladies administrators?
SJ: If you happen to love what you do, cling in there! And attempt to work with ladies as a lot as attainable when you’ll be able to.
W&H: Title your favourite woman-directed movie and why.
SJ: “The Crash Reel,” directed by Lucy Walker, is my favourite documentary of all time. I adore it as a result of it’s each intimate and spectacular. It was an necessary reference for Maya’s movie. I aspired to make a movie like “The Crash Reel,” an empathetic portrait of an athlete, with the context of a household story and the visible magnificence of utmost sport.
W&H: What, if any, tasks do you suppose storytellers must confront the tumult on the planet, from the pandemic to the lack of abortion rights and systemic violence?
SJ: I don’t suppose storytellers have tasks; we comply with our hearts or do the roles given to us. I believe funders and distributors have a accountability to fund and distribute significant tales fairly than pandering to the bottom widespread denominator.
W&H: The movie trade has an extended historical past of underrepresenting individuals of shade onscreen and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — destructive stereotypes. What actions do you suppose should be taken to make Hollywood and/or the doc world extra inclusive?
SJ: I believe we’d like extra feminine executives in positions of energy. Feminine-driven content material has confirmed itself each commercially and artistically. Fifty % of the world is feminine, however the majority of individuals in energy are males. With extra feminine decision-makers, we might have higher illustration of girls and other people of shade onscreen.
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