Five years ago, I entered into the filmmaking arena a minority, an underdog. I didn’t go to film school, I’m just over 5’ tall, I’m young…. and I’m female. If you were able to place bets on me at a casino the odds would be something like 341:1.

That’s not too far from where a lot of other women feel like they are at in their filmmaking careers, but here’s the secret:

On paper, you may be the underdog. But don’t for one second let yourself believe it.

I went from working at 3M in an engineering lab to all-access on the sidelines of the Superbowl in just 19 short months. From there, I went on to take a major role in the production of A Game of Honor and, over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to work on a number of different productions, large and small.

As I look back, I’ve discovered a lot about what it takes to succeed as a female filmmaker and I want to share five powerful ideas I’ve learned with you.

This is a tough industry. It’s a harsh landscape for any filmmaker, but it’s especially challenging for women who have dreams to succeed in this space. Make no mistake, women are still the minority, but we don’t have to be the underdog.

It’s important to point out that with immense challenges also come opportunities to succeed.

Some may say that being DP of a feature-length doc and winning some Emmys in just five short years are significant triumphs, and I wouldn’t disagree, but I also feel that is something that’s within everyone’s reach.

You just have to want it enough to go for it, regardless of age, race, or gender.

So how do we handle being repeatedly marginalized, dealing with inappropriate comments on set and making the most out of fighting an uphill battle? Ladies, this one is for you.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about how to succeed as a female filmmaker.

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What would you say if you could share one thing with the world?

We had the amazing opportunity to speak at the Social Innovation Summit hosted at the United Nations in New York.

I had 10 minutes to talk to an amazing group of people, but what did I want to say?

In ten minutes you really want to get to one big idea. So what was it? Our one big idea that we wanted to share with people. I knew that if I tried to say too much I’d end up saying nothing at all.

One big idea to give to a room full of people: CEOs or heads of social corporate responsibility for companies like JetBlue, Chobani, Google, and Microsoft and a few hundred more.

As we thought about what we wanted to share, we realized that there is one storytelling secret that we think everyone should know.

Heidi McKye and I put our heads together to co-author what exactly we might say on behalf of Stillmotion.

This is what we came up with. Our one thing, as shared with everybody at the Summit.

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Hiya, I’m Dom, and I’m a Connector at Story & Heart.

Story & Heart is one part film licensing platform and one big part filmmaking community—a place for storytellers to learn, encourage, and collaborate.

In that sense, we foster a passionate group of like-minded filmmakers drawn together to focus on one thing: helping you tell amazing stories. Because we believe that what we grow together will be something so much greater than anything we could have nurtured alone.

So, in the spirit of collaboration, Stillmotion asked me to write a bit about the idea of collaboration.

Imagine, for a moment, a storyteller. Do you picture writers laboring, lonely, behind a stack of paper in a dusty study? Or animators alone poring over the same drawing, over and over, changing it slightly every time to capture the precise pose, or the right mannerism, to convey that perfect purpose?

Now, for one more moment, imagine a freelancer—the storyteller who is bound to work alone, for whatever reason, be it financial or physical.

Because the truth is so much simpler: Storytelling requires collaboration.

That book that writer behind the lonely typewriter is creating? It’s so much bigger than the bounds of that study. It needs an editor—or a team of them—if it has any chance at reaching a greater audience. And that writer, beyond just her editors, also needs an agent, a publisher, a publicist, and countless others to hold her hands throughout the process of publishing, before the book can end up in your hands.

The same, of course, applies to film. When the credits roll, you aren’t bombarded with hundreds of names because of some elaborate joke.

Yet, as filmmakers, we can probably all remember a time when we’ve had a strange relationship with the idea of collaboration. Maybe for you, that time is now, and at the moment you’re staring at this screen hoping we’ll convince you that teamwork isn’t as frustrating or difficult to manage as it’s seemed so often in your career.

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We’re glad you’re here. Really – we appreciate the time you’ve chosen to share with us in the pursuit of stronger stories.

Here’s the truth; we LOVE great stories. And, quite frankly, we think that there should be more of them out there.

We hope you’ll take a few moments to help us get to know you. We’d also love to take a moment and share our story, as it’s so central to the content and ideas we’ll be bringing you.

It’s been 10 years thus far in our pursuit of great stories. We started in weddings, way back when, while in University. One day we got a call, totally out of blue, from the NFL. They’d seen one of our wedding films, appreciated our approach to story, and wanted to see how it might fit for their game. In a week we went from hotel ballrooms to all access for the NFL playoffs, San Diego vs. Green Bay.

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The sun is beginning to peek it’s sleepy head out from behind the Portland clouds after another long winter and that means it’s time to get outside and start exploring some new opportunities.

Fortunately, we have the scoop on some super rad workshops that may be stopping in a city or country near you! And a special offer too :)

Whether you are just breaking into filmmaking, know your way around and want some new insight, or are a pro looking to be re-inspired, there is a learning opportunity with your name on it.

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