Welcome to my new interview series featuring some of the brightest and most hard-working women I know. My goal for this series is to collect stories from women in all levels of their career. The hope is that their journey and their advice will trigger something in you, and help you take the jump you need to achieve your personal level of success. Whether they are freelancers, founders of their own business, corporate employees, or students, this #LadiesWhoHustle series will showcase their unique talents and help you unveil yours.
I had the pleasure to interview up-and-coming filmmaker, Aurielle Byran. She is a filmmaker, a storyteller, a writer, choreographer, and entrepreneur with an intense love of travel, reading, fashion and chocolate (she's speaking my language!). And I'm proud to announce her first feature film, Saving Savanna, will be released later this year.
Sit back, and relax, and continue reading to learn more about this incredible woman and how she mixes her passion for arts with her career.
I am a filmmaker and entrepreneur. I've written and directed a few short films that have screened at the New Media Film Festival and FilmOneFest. In 2018, I directed my first feature film "Saving Savanna", which is currently in Post-Production.
Why do you do what you do?
Becoming a filmmaker was a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ever since I was young, I have had something to do with the performing arts - I started dancing at four, began singing at six, performed in my first play at five, and started writing stories since I learned how to write, and was a storyteller since I could speak. My happiest memories happened when I was on stage.
As I got older, I wanted to be an actress, but the roles that were available weren't roles that I connected with, wanted, or felt comfortable portraying. So, when I got to college and studied film, a whole new world opened up for me. I learned that I could make the films that I wanted to see (plus, it combined all of the things I loved to do).
That's why I absolutely love my job. I can create the films that I've always wanted to see onscreen, and provide kids like me with a blueprint on how to do that themselves (without having to specifically go through Hollywood).
What was your dream job at 10 years old?
When I was ten, I really, really wanted to be an actress. It was my dream job... and in many aspects, it still is.
If you could choose anyone's job, whose job would you choose and why?
I'm not too sure. There are definitely aspects of Tamera Mowry-Housley's life that I love (she's got an awesome personal brand, a great family, she's kind, and she owns her own business); but I also really admire people like Denzel Washington and Hugh Jackman. They seem to be very down-to-earth, kind people who understand the business and have longevity.
What is one thing people outside of your industry get wrong about your job?
That it's easy. You'd be surprised to know how many people think you just shoot the movie, and BAM, it's finished the next day. Most people don't see the hours involved in making sure you have the right shots, corralling all the moving parts, and how long it takes to edit (video and sound).
How does it feel to be a women in your field? Do you feel like it has helped or hindered you in any way?
I'm pretty lucky, for independent film there isn't as much trouble being a female in film. Independents are all about creatives who just want to make good work. It's more about who you know, and others being attracted to your vision.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Wow... hopefully I'll have some commercially successful films under my belt. However, I'd really love to have an Oscar (or two), a Grammy, and a Tony. That'd be rad!
What has been your biggest career struggle so far?
Networking. There have been a lot of people who say one thing and do another. Or better yet, most people only want to help when the ship is sailing (not when you're on the dry dock). It was a huge frustration when I started because people how I had helped in the past only wanted to help me when everything was going well.
What about your biggest career win?
Right now, I'd say writing and filming my first feature film has taken the cake. It was a steep learning experience with a lot of trial by fire, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Who is the one person you most want to work with on a film?
I'll have to go with J.J. Abrams! I love the show Fringe and am a huge fan of sci-fi and his work.
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
I haven't really received any groundbreaking advice so far, but I remember reading this quote by one of my favourite storytellers, J.J. Abrams. He said: "Find what you love. Then fight like hell when people try to take it away from you." This has happened to be. It's a shame, but so much of doing what you love is fighting to keep it.
What about the worst piece of career advice?
This is hard. I know I've received some bad advice, but I usually forget about it. I don't like to carry that stuff around.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of my film "Saving Savanna". I know I keep saying it, but I'm so happy with how it's turning out. We did everything independently, and I didn't have any backers; so it's crazy to see the progress made on it.
Who motivates you the most?
My family. I was lucky enough to be born into a very supportive, ambitious family. They're always rooting for me. My brothers and I are super close and they're also super creative, so they're always there to talk things through or bounce ideas off of. My parents always push me to be the best version of myself and force me to think in a more business-oriented way.
What advice do you have for those looking for a career in your field?
It's going to hurt at times - like emotionally and mentally hurt. You have to have thick skin, be quick on your feet, and be very persistent with your dreams. If you're looking to make a film, you need to be it's biggest supporter and cheerleader. If no one else believes in your dreams, you have to make your own way. You can't let everyone else's "no's" stop you.
When do you feel the most confident?
When I'm performing. The stage, especially, has always felt like my quiet place.
How do you relax?
I enjoy reading a book, going to the beach, or playing video games with my brothers.
Currently coveting: anything from ZARA or a good vacation.
Favourite way to sweat: dance or Aerial class! If there's no dance class, then yoga or pilates.
Favourite book: "The Naming" by Alison Croggon or Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein".
Morning bird or night owl? A night owl forced to be a morning bird.
Favourite city: right now I'd say Brisbane, Australia or Oranjestad, Aruba.
Get in touch with Aurielle!
Know anyone that would be great to feature in the #LadiesWhoHustle series? Connect with me on Instagram to nominate them - or yourself!