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TIFF 2022 Women Directors: Meet Stephanie Johnes – “Maya and the Wave”



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 Photos and Showtime movie concerning the iconic Williams sisters.

“Maya and the Wave” is screening on the 2022 Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition, which is operating from September 8-18.

W&H: Describe the movie for us in your personal phrases.

 SJ: After a brush with loss of life, 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 attain her dream whereas struggling towards gender bias. 

W&H: What drew you to this story?

SJ: I used to be inquisitive about large 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 effectively.

W&H: What would you like folks 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 will even really feel empowered to face up for themselves.

W&H: What was the largest problem in making the movie?

SJ: The largest problem was the timeline.  After I met Maya I didn’t know the way lengthy it will 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 somewhat than select, I pursued journalism in order that I’d have an excuse to study something and all the pieces.

W&H: What’s the very best recommendation you’ve obtained?

SJ: One of the best recommendation I’ve obtained is to be your self. As a filmmaker, you might be typically a fish out of the water, in unusual environments, and it all the time helps to only be your genuine self, even if you happen to don’t slot in.

W&H: What recommendation do you will 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 potential when you’ll be able to.

W&H: Identify your favourite woman-directed movie and why.

SJ: “The Crash Reel,” directed by Lucy Walker, is my favourite documentary of all time. I find it irresistible as a result of it’s each intimate and spectacular. It was an vital 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, duties do you suppose storytellers need to confront the tumult on the earth, from the pandemic to the lack of abortion rights and systemic violence?

SJ: I don’t suppose storytellers have duties; we comply with our hearts or do the roles given to us. I believe funders and distributors have a duty to fund and distribute significant tales somewhat than pandering to the bottom widespread denominator.

W&H: The movie trade has an extended historical past of underrepresenting folks of colour onscreen and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — adverse stereotypes. What actions do you suppose have to 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 p.c of the world is feminine, however the majority of individuals in energy are males.  With extra feminine decision-makers, we’d have higher illustration of girls and folks of colour onscreen.

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