As an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, TV producer, TEDx Speaker, and a keynote speaker, Sarah Moshman is the embodiment of living a bold life.
Her documentaries aim to uplift, inform, and inspire the masses. Her time on stage is to empower and encourage those in the audience to be bold in leaving their comfort zones.
And when it comes to her mission and message, she is all about encouraging and empowering those in the audience to be bold enough to leave their comfort zones, to tell their stories, and to embrace the impact they can have on the world.
In this article, Sarah answers some questions on:
- Being bold
- Her role models
- The inspiration behind her mission
- Business lessons learned from making films
But before we dive into her answers, take a look at her video here:
Ask The Expert: Sarah Moshman
How did you find documentary filmmaking as your medium for telling your stories and the stories of others?
I grew up around filmmaking and production with a Dad in this business. It never seemed like an impossible dream because I had a role model for it in my own house. When I made my first documentary at age 16 for a high school English class, I was hooked. I found a courage and a voice having this camera next to me that I never otherwise had. I loved the whole process of thinking up an idea, filming the interviews, editing it together and then sharing it with an audience and feeling their reactions. It was an electrifying feeling, and I wanted to make more films, and I haven’t stopped since! I love the medium of storytelling and documentary filmmaking to share the important and inspiring stories of people around us. Truth is often stranger and more interesting than fiction, I love spending time with people and finding the ways in which we are all connected.
What is your definition of being bold, and how do you empower others to be bold in their lives?
To be bold means to live your life unapologetically and to pursue your ambitions and dreams without fear. Especially as women we have to lead each other by example since the media isn’t often showing us stories of bold women. We need to encourage others to take risks, try new things, and to step outside our comfort zones because that is truly where the magic happens. I hope I do that by going after my goals and sharing my journey to do so as well as mentoring as many filmmakers and entrepreneurs as I can to get their projects off the ground.
As a role model for so many, who are your role model(s) and why?
I am so inspired by women-run businesses, by working mothers, and women fighting for our laws to reflect our society and treat us equally. I am constantly in awe of all that women accomplish and strive for alongside so many other roles and responsibilities. As more women break barriers, the more inspired I am so try to break barriers too. We have to encourage each other to take up space, have a voice, and get a seat at the table, or create our own. A few people I admire these days: Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, Ava Duvernay, Jill Soloway and so many more.
You’ve mentioned in other interviews that showcasing strong female role models on screen is a part of your mission — what inspires this piece of your mission?
If we take a look at our media – movies, tv, magazines, music, advertising – we see such a poor representation of what the female experience entails. We don’t see many flawed, complex, real women that I see all around me in my daily life. We often see objectification of women, over-sexualization, and often a complete erasure of the female perspective. When I turned on that awareness several years ago, it was very hard to turn off. As a media creator, I thought to myself about how I have the skillset to do something about this – and so I did. I make documentary films and many other short-form projects that support that mission of representing real, strong women whose stories aren’t being told. It’s been a tough journey, but an incredibly valuable one.
What are you currently doing in your own life that’s encouraging you to leave your comfort zone?
Motherhood for starters is a constant feeling of being outside your comfort zone! Everyday she changes and grows and just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, you don’t! But I just returned from a solo travel experience to Tajikistan in Central Asia where I was screening my documentary The Empowerment Project. I have never been so far away from home before, don’t speak the language, and was certainly the “other” and the “only” in the room for once. It was a difficult adjustment at first, but I quickly realized how special the experience was and truly enjoyed the discomfort of the not knowing. We have so much to be grateful for and to share with the world, it’s a good reminder.
You’ve said that each new filmmaking project is like starting a new business. What core business lessons have you learned that you would say are worth sharing with people?
Being a filmmaker is certainly just like being an entrepreneur and embracing that role has been very empowering for me. For me a few core business lessons are:
- Don’t overspend and dig yourself in a hole. Especially at the beginning budgeting is so important because you have so many costs in front of you. Be practical and spend on the things that will show up on screen.
- Work with people more talented than you are in certain areas. I used to try to wear all of the hats and take everything on to save money, but truly it has been such a joy to be able to hire people with immense talents that I don’t have. They bring the project to a whole new level. So know when to take something on, and when to spend the money to hire the right person to do it better than you.
- As they say – “jump off the cliff and build the parachute on the way down.” There will never be a good time, things will go wrong, but if you are dedicated to your film, your product, your business, even if your back is against the wall – you will figure it out because you have to. And you’ll be better for it!
Here are the main takeaways from Sarah’s answers:
- If something seems impossible, find a role model. For Sarah, “It never seemed like an impossible dream because I had a role model for it in my own house.”
- “To be bold means to live your life unapologetically and to pursue your ambitions and dreams without fear.”
- “…as women we have to lead each other by example since the media isn’t often showing us stories of bold women.”
- “As more women break barriers, the more inspired I am so try to break barriers too. We have to encourage each other to take up space, have a voice, and get a seat at the table, or create our own.”
- “Don’t overspend and dig yourself in a hole.”
- “Work with people more talented than you are in certain areas.”
- “There will never be a good time, things will go wrong, but if you are dedicated to your film, your product, your business, even if your back is against the wall – you will figure it out because you have to.”