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We all want to reach the top of our chosen career paths. But coming from humble backgrounds, small towns that offer few opportunities, or having no connections in the field are significant obstacles to most people realizing their dreams. Lisa Mazzotta is a film producer who overcame these challenges to achieve success. She shares her incredible journey to succeed and thrive in a competitive industry.
Mazzotta takes pride in her production career, which has thrived from a young age. Every step of the way has been nothing but success, a clear indication that hard work and resilience pay off. In her 20s, she was a producer on the team that won NBC.com its first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media for the Heroes and Heroes Evolutions sites. Her light continues to shine as she makes a name in the production industry.
In her 30s, her film projects, Marilyn, RiverBlue and Circuit, received distinguished awards from film festivals. Marilyn was also featured in the Leo Awards as the Best Lead Performance by a female in the Feature Length Drama and Winner of Best Feature Length Drama. RiverBlue also made a name in many festivals, including Raindance Film Festival, Biennale Venice, Arizona International Film Festival and Eugene International Film Festival. It received awards for Best Documentary, Winner Audience Choice Awards, Best Fashion Film Tuscans Ethical Fashion, Best Environmental Documentary and Best Feature Length Fashion Film. Circuit also received an award for Outstanding Dramatic Short at the Micheaux Film Festival.
Mazzotta has traveled the world and across the US speaking on panels on various social impact and environmental conservation topics. “I’ve been fortunate to meet some truly amazing people in my career, from astronauts to biochemists to artists in South Africa and professors in India… You really never know where your projects will take you,” she says.
Mazzotta’s biggest challenge was and is learning how to navigate egos. This has been a major hurdle in the film production industry, and she has seen it destroy films. She has, however, overcome this hurdle by learning how to effectively communicate with people in a way that they can relate to. When things get tough, she likes to remind her colleagues that they should all be making decisions that are best for the project while still respecting each other. As a woman in the industry, sexual harassment is another problem she always had to overcome. “Also an ego-driven issue,” she says. “Our industry has a long way to go.”
The producer advises other filmmakers to delight in true collaboration, find the team or teams you like to work with, and grow together. It’s empowering to have the courage and belief in yourself to give credit where credit is due. Your projects will be better for it.
Mazzotta is now working hard with a focus on projects that inspire young people. She previously produced several TV shows and social impact films, and created educational programs as spinoffs. She recently spoke with more than 900 students from high schools throughout San Diego, California. “Young people ask the best questions,” she says. “The solutions seem to come more clearly to them.”
Having worked on TV comic book shows about fictional heroes (Smallville, Aquaman, Once Upon a Time, Arrow), she has now shifted to projects with real-life heroes. On her current project, Daughters, she feels fortunate to work with many real life heroes, including co-director Angela Patton, CEO of Girls for A Change. She highly recommends watching Patton’s TEDTalk. “If you’re ever feeling like you can’t do something, her TEDTalk will remind you that you can,” Mazzotta says.
At this stage in her career, Mazzotta greatly enjoys mentoring up-and-coming filmmakers on their journey. “I really love being a juror at film festivals,” she says. “It’s inspiring to see new perspectives and storytellers out there; I like to help support them.” She reminds filmmakers that if they have a dream, focus on the work and find a good team, they can make it all happen.