While you can choose your path in film for the many available opportunities, finding the most suitable team to work with is invaluable. Lisa Mazzotta is a Los Angeles-based producer who, as a tiny girl from a tiny town, followed a dream to work in film with determination and no connections. Lisa became a producer on the team that won NBC.com its first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media for the Heroes and Heroes Evolutions sites in her 20s.
Similarly, in her 30’s, Lisa’s film projects received several awards from film festivals, including Best Documentary, Best Social Impact Film, Best Cinematography, and other awards from Raindance Film Festival, to Winner of the Biennale Venice. Her other notable career highlights include MARILYN: Best Lead Performance by a female in a Feature Length Drama, and Best Feature Length Drama, Leo Awards winners.
Lisa’s film, RIVERBLUE, won the best documentary at the Raindance Film Festival and the Green Drop Award at the Green Cross Italy & La Biennale di Venezia. RIVERBLUE also topped many festivals, such as the Green Film Festival & World Water Forum, Madrid International Film Festival, Another Way Film Festival, TUSCANS ETHICAL FASHION, Impact Awards Brooklyn Design & Fashion Institute, Arizona International Film Festival, and Eugene International Film Festival, among others.
“I also produced the winning Outstanding Dramatic Short at the Micheaux Film Festival – CIRCUIT. Additionally, I recently produced a project for Grammy winner, Leon Bridges. It was incredible, a truly intimate look at what it takes to write an album and be a performer at his level. I hope his fans love it”, Lisa says. In her career, she has interviewed 300+ people, so being able to connect quickly with others has been integral. She’s found that honesty, humor and vulnerability can bring out the best in people. When asked about her favorite celebrity to interview, she admits it is a toss up between Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts, ”They’re both such pros”, she says, but she’d have to go with Denzel. “He really tries to make everyone in the room feel good. It’s a special thing when someone of his experience level does that!”
The producers’ journey was not without its challenges. She explains, “The biggest challenge I faced and still face is navigating egos. I’ve seen egos destroy films, and it is something that comes up on almost every project. I’ve overcome this by learning how to speak to people so that it resonates with them. Producing is like being an entrepreneur and psychologist, so understanding people and how to effectively communicate with them is key.”
Lisa adds, “When things get challenging, I like to go back to the same questions: What’s the best decision for the story and project and how do we make sure everyone is respected. As a woman in the industry, sexual harassment is always something I’ve had to overcome, also an ego-driven issue, but I’d rather not focus on that.”
According to Lisa, there’s so much to be learned from true collaboration. Some of the best filmmakers Lisa has worked with have mastered it. The producer adds that projects turn out stronger when the leaders can take good advice, herself included.
In the future, Lisa’s goals are to continue to create projects that inspire youth and find creative bridges between storytelling and technology. She said, “We are releasing a project called Daughters, a documentary about a father/daughter dance in prison, as part of a rehabilitation program. This idea came from a 12-year-old girl. Lisa says that she would love to continue helping others have a platform and ability to tell their stories. She has become a juror for several film festivals and has also found that incredibly rewarding. “I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can support others in the pursuit of their dreams. What good is knowledge and experience if we don’t pass it on?”
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