About the Series
Each year Ithaca College hosts an individual representing one or more of the significant professions associated with the communications industry. Leading figures in print and broadcast journalism are the primary focus. This program is funded through the generosity of the Park Foundation.
The Empowerment Project
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Park Hall Auditorium
What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail? Emmy Award Winning filmmakers Sarah Moshman and Dana Michelle Cook asked themselves before embarking on a 7,000 mile road trip across the US with a group of all female filmmakers. Tired of the lack of positive female role models in the media, Sarah and Dana felt inspired to make a change.
The result is the documentary entitled The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things distributed by Seattle-based Indieflix.
About the Filmmakers
(Director/Producer) grew up in Evanston, IL and loved using the camera as a way to find her voice. She made her first documentary in high school and was hooked. With a career-driven Mom as a role model and a TV producer/documentary filmmaker Dad as a mentor and inspiration, Sarah always knew that working in television and film would be her path. She attended the University of Miami for Video-Film and then moved out to Los Angeles to seriously pursue her goals. She began working in reality TV and worked her way up to field producer on Dancing with the Stars as well as other shows for the Food Network, Bravo, NBC, ABC and MTV. Documentary filmmaking still remains her passion and teaming up with Dana and starting Heartfelt Productions was their way of expressing their creativity and striving to empower women, an issue close to Sarah’s heart as she began to find her place in the world.
“For me, I was turning on the TV and only finding so many negative messages for women. From the magazines we read, to the songs we listen to on the radio, it’s like the media is perpetuating this feeling to women that they are not good enough as they are and that we live in this male-dominated society. I felt like if I’m not a part of the solution, I’m part of the problem. So The Empowerment Project came from that
frustration and wanting to make a film that I felt like was missing from our landscape.”
Dana Michelle Cook
(Producer) grew up in Los Angeles, CA, near the heart of Hollywood and filmmaking capital of the world. Surrounded by the influence of the industry, Dana had always loved the art of storytelling, and knew that she’d one day combine her love for telling a good story with her passion for filmmaking. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Communications, working as an intern for Fox News, Fox Sports, MTV, and Montecito Picture Company and Director Ivan Reitman. After college she joined Creative Entertainment Services, a boutique product placement agency, managing branded content for network shows and films for Warner Brothers, Disney, and Paramount studios. Since 2004, Dana has been working as a freelance Field Producer and Writer on shows like Design on A Dime for HGTV and Dancing With the Stars on ABC. She has also produced original content for NBC, TLC, DIY, The Food Network, Biography, Investigation Discovery, and more. Dana founded Heartfelt Productions in 2009 with Sarah with the vision of telling stories with heart, and creating positive, uplifting content to inspire women everywhere. The Empowerment Project marks the pursuit of her and Sarah’s dream in keeping with their commitment to showcase strong females on film.
“I had been working in reality television for years as a field producer, and was slowly coming to the realization that the majority of the content I was creating centered around programming in which women were pitted against each other…they were catty, degrading, and all-around horrible to each other. And I thought, 'what are the messages we’re buying into as women, but even worse, what kind of example are we setting for young girls who are watching this?' And I knew something needed to change. Around the same time, I met Sarah, and we very quickly realized we shared that mutual interest in creating content that inspires and empowers women. We knew if we put our talents and passions to good use, we could actually work on projects that we were really proud of and be part of a shift in creating positive content portrayed in the media.”
Their lecture will also serve as the keynote to this year’s Media for Social Responsibility course focusing on Women Working Behind the Scenes.