Our 'Women In Production' series will feature 3 outstanding women in the field of production.
Lisa Ferrell is a seasoned production professional whose background encompasses television series and film development and production/post-production for television, film, and digital content. She is currently the Producer / Project Manager for Georgia State University’s Creative Media Industries Institute focusing on emerging technology.
GPP: From your viewpoint, how has the entertainment industry changed in the last 5 years?
Lisa: DEMOCRATIZATION. Historically, the entertainment industry has been an option for a select few -- whether it was based on location (must live in LA or NY), sex (usually male on the executive level) or race (marginalized groups forced to overcome significant barriers of entry). I feel that the rise of OTT (over the top streaming media services) has helped to democratize the industry by allowing content creators to bypass the "Hollywood system" and create and distribute directly to audiences. Also, we are living in a time where there is a need and a desire for diverse voices in entertainment and we are beginning to reap the benefits of experiencing different stories as told by those who experience them.
GPP: Have you faced any barriers in your career? If so, can you share your experiences?
Lisa: I would not describe them as barriers, but I have definitely experienced day-to-day microaggressions (actions that can slight or marginalize a coworker such as being interrupted while talking or having others explain things to you that you already know). For instance, although I was the Executive Producer at a post house I had worked at for years, I was often interrupted or over-talked by my male colleagues. It should also be noted that I was the only person of color at the company. It became such an issue that, unbeknownst to me, a few of my female coworkers would often speak up and say, "I think Lisa was making a point" when these instances would occur. I would also be left behind to do the actual work while my male colleagues would be out "bonding" but show up for client meetings and/or dinners. There are a number of experiences that I can recount here, but being overlooked and undervalued is what stands out for me.
GPP: What advice would you give to women who would love to work in production?
Lisa: Surround yourself with people that you can trust -- whether they are male or female, colleague or mentor. In my career, I have created a creative family that I can trust. These are the people that I can trust to be honest with me, give me advice on how to react to disrespect, champion me, and celebrate my wins. Another bit of advice is to continue to learn as much as you can about your craft because our industry is constantly changing. I currently work in post-production / emerging technology where there are not a lot of women. It may not be fair, but as women (and all marginalized groups), it is still true that we have to fight the perception of not being as capable or knowledgeable -- especially when your gender is not well-represented.
Lisa Ferrell began her career as a Development Assistant in an Atlanta-based studio with a First Look Deal with a major network. She has gone on to has served as Executive Producer for several of Atlanta’s foremost post-production, motion capture, and VFX facilities, including the Toronto-based SPIN VFX, and has helped create creative for some of the foremost advertising agencies and brands in the world. Most recently, Lisa worked with animation firm SLOTHIQUE as a Producer for the animated film MINE, which premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. She has also worked in series and telefilm development for such companies as CBS, Lifetime Television/Hearst Entertainment, NBC, and TBS. While at motion capture studio Giant Studios/Profile, she was involved in the post-production of films that include New Line Cinema’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and Sony Imageworks animated holiday feature “Polar Express” directed by Robert Zemekis and starring Tom Hanks. She was also instrumental in creating the pilot episode for the long-running “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” series for TBS.
Lisa is a former President of the Georgia Production Partnership, serves on the Board of Directors for Film Impact Georgia and reimagineATL, is the Director of Education for the Milledgeville Eatonton Film Festival, and serves on the Advisory Board of ASIFA South.