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Director, Dana Schwartz Talks 'Sea Change,' Collaboration, and the Influence of Female Filmmakers

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

With the next official screening of Sea Change at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival quickly approaching, we touched base with the film's Director, Dana Schwartz, for an insightful conversation about her vision and passion for the film and its story, her experience collaborating with Executive Producer, Steven M. Engel and her time working alongside the many female leaders and filmmakers at Engel Entertainment throughout the process of bringing Sea Change to life.


Beginning with you as the film's female director and then looking through the rest of female leadership including Heidi Reavis (Executive Producer) and Kara Smith (Co-Producer), how do you think the final cut of Sea Change was influenced by a predominantly female-driven team?

I think it was a huge part of it. I think that we looked at this as a relationship story set within an incredible tale of adventure. I think that as a team of mostly women, we personalized it and drew out the romantic development at the heart of the story despite how difficult it is sometimes to watch a couple go through their highest of highs and lowest of lows, and I don't necessarily think that a team of male filmmakers might have chosen to focus on that aspect the same way that we did.

Another big part of our story is watching Vasti, the lead female character. Without giving too much away, we see her go from this dynamic in which Riaan was the one making most of the decisions while she was very much the second in command, and yet by the end of it, she comes out on top.

I think that as a female-driven team, we were able to pull out so much more of that mindset and the way it relates to how you transform your behavior and grow out of those insecurities and what that type of transformation meant for Vasti as a woman.

She surprises herself more than anything because even though Riaan always knew that she had it in her, she didn't. She never believed in herself, and for us as the audience, we're watching this thinking, how could this incredibly intelligent, strong female character underestimate herself so much? And I think that’s a type of experience that many women out there can relate to or can at least empathize with, while a lot of men may have a bit more difficulty understanding or connecting with an experience like that.

What was it like to work alongside and to collaborate with the team at Engel Entertainment?

It was great to have a fresh set of views on how to create the story, especially from a production company that's so heavily focused on empowering women in film and TV. That made a huge difference in the process of how we were able to work together and able to accomplish things, and for me, that was really essential and important.

Steve (Steven M. Engel, Executive Producer of Sea Change and President of Engel Entertainment) was such a great partner and while he definitely had his own, strong vision for the film, he was always open to collaborating with me and was willing to see things from my perspective which was wonderful for the film.

We always took into consideration what the other person was saying, especially during the editing process because that was just immense. It was a huge undertaking. And you know, you aren't always going to agree on everything, and it was awesome to be in a place where everyone's opinion is respected and discussed and worked through, and you're able to come to a conclusion on the other side, and you're still a team with the same goal at the end of the day.

I think the type of working relationship that we - especially the relationship and trust between Steve, Kara (Kara Smith, Co-Produer), Gary (Gary Maddison, Editor and Co-Producer) and I - allowed the final product to grow into something that really shared all of our vision and our passion for the story.

Don't miss the official screening of Sea Change at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival at 5pm on Sunday, November 11th!

Limited tickets are still available for purchase here.


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