2016 JLLB LUNAFEST® Women in Entertainment Q & A Interview Series – Anna Schumacher Interviewed by Alex Weiss
In honor of the upcoming April 10th LUNAFEST event, a film festival highlighting women filmmakers, the Junior League of Long Beach (JLLB) has created the LUNAFEST Women in Entertainment Q & A Interview Series. It will feature interviews pairing JLLB members making a difference in the Long Beach community with women making a difference in the industry.
For our third interview, JLLB Vice President of Fund Development Alex Weiss will be interviewing filmmaker Anna Schumacher, who directed, wrote and appeared as an actress in Finding June, which will be screened at LUNAFEST. The short fiction film explores communication’s role in understanding one another through the eyes of a deaf women who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Anna will be participating in the Q & A filmmakers’ panel taking place directly after the screening. The panel will be moderated by JLLB President-Elect Virginia Zart.
Alex joined the Junior League of Long Beach in 2010 and for the past six years has had roles including Chair of Community Impact Programs, Vice President overseeing Community Programs and Advocacy, and now most recently, Vice President of Fund Development. Alex has always known that an innate part of herself has the need to give back to the community to make a difference and foster change. Professionally, Alex is the Corporate & Community Partnerships Manager for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and leads fundraising and corporate support for the western United States.
Alex Weiss (AW): What is your current job/title (along with top projects in your career) and what was your first job in the entertainment industry?
Anna Schumacher (AS): Technically, I’m an American Sign Language interpreter by day, and an artist by night. I came to L.A. at the encouragement of a Deaf Studies teacher of mine from Berkeley City College to connect with Deaf West Theatre. At Deaf West I worked with the production team and quickly became immersed in the community. As I settled into L.A., I found more and more work as an interpreter, learning as I went and loving the language more and more. Through this I met an actor on the television show Switched at Birth, which became my Hollywood industry gig. As an artistic ensemble member of the theater and art production company cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA, I was also spreading my wings from theater actor to director, writer, and even clowning. I did my first film in the spring of 2013, about a year after I moved to L.A.
AW: What does your typical day look like?
AS: It varies, though it certainly always starts with walking three whiny puppies earlier than I’d like! Freelance interpreting means on any given day I could be working in a school, court, or doctors’ office. This work takes me all over town with all kinds of folks. I make time every day to connect with me, via yoga and writing. I have an almost daily habit of reviewing previous writing exercises to re-write and re-imagine. My favorite days are when production is imminent and I’m in producer mode, tying up loose ends by scouting, making shot lists, and getting notes from those I send my work to.
AW: What are three key aspects of your job (e.g., producing, developing relationships) and what are three qualities that are key to being successful in it (e.g., persistence, flexibility)?
AS: For this question I’ll call my job filmmaking as it’s a piece of what makes me tick. Three aspects of this work are candor, tenacity, belief. The people who succeed respect the time and talents of their team and believe in the work being made, full stop. They aren’t above sending email after email asking for help when they need it.
AW: What is your favorite part of the job?
AS: Watching a project you love take tangible shape is humbling and empowering — two of the best feelings there are.
AW: Who or what inspires you creatively?
AS: I think a lot in pictures. An example I often use: sometimes I’m out and maybe it’s raining. I’ve forgotten a jacket so I’m feeling bemused, and then I see a woman at a bus stop with a plastic bag full of socks and a cat on a neon green leash. (I live in Hollywood!) What a scene. So I think, whose socks are those? Who is this woman? Who walks their cat anyway? And then my mind goes. Like the non-Spanish speaker watching a telenovela, I begin to imagine the life I’m seeing. It’s so cool to know that I can literally look at the world around me, pause longer than most do, and be inspired to write a scene, a life, a story.
AW: What advice would you give to women who want to work in the industry or do what you do?
AS: Please do what moves you, and be kind while you do it, but without apology. As women we are conditioned to say sorry, or even to question ourselves and our ability. People will push back, they’ll require more from you. It can feel bleak out there, but I believe that if you embrace your true self, you can be a formidable player and make your mark. Or to say it another way, and to paraphrase fellow filmmaker Meg Smaker: Regardless of anatomy, if you’re embracing your femme self, you’re being a badass extraordinaire.
Find out more about Anna Schumacher below.
This interview was edited by Rachael Rifkin, a Public Relations member of the Junior League of Long Beach. She has been in the league since January of 2012 because she believes in positive community programs. When she’s not doing JLLB activities, she’s a ghostwriter/personal historian who blogs about the traits we inherit and the qualities we find only in ourselves.