The Arts

Gia Walsh on Lessons Learned from Inspiring Directors Who Challenge the Industry Norms

3 minute read

Gia Walsh, a film producer based in New York City, has been involved with several successful indie films like The Art of Getting By and Burn Country. The company she co-founded, GiGi Films, has many different projects in the pipeline. Walsh believes that in an established industry like film, being unique and challenging the trends is the best way to differentiate and ensure long term success.

Walsh shares a list of the directors that have most inspired her creative career. These directors have fresh and novel ways of looking at cinema, bringing audiences a wide variety of films from dramas to comedies.


Marielle Heller

Marielle is an American director best known for writing and directing the film The Diary of a Teenage Girl and for directing Can You Ever Forgive Me? Heller has seen tremendous success in her brief career, being appointed a Sundance Screenwriting Fellow and Sundance Directing Fellow in 2012.

Heller’s success stems at least partially from her intense focus on her characters. She prioritizes building a world around a truly vivid character, such as writer Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Fred Rogers in her Mr. Rogers biopic currently in production. While many directors and writers tend to use a character as a vehicle to advance the plot, Heller appears to place her focus squarely on the shoulders of a larger-than-life character and let the story flow organically from their experiences. This unique approach has been fundamental in Heller’s early success.


Joel and Ethan Coen

The Coen brothers have continued to wow audiences with their quirky, cynical view on life. Their classic films include FargoThe Big Lebowski, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Coen brothers draw audiences with their incisive humor and offbeat sensibility. Viewers are also treated to homages to the films and directors of the past.
The Coen brothers are an excellent example of how personal branding can lead to success. They are world renown for their very particular humor and a certain unexplainable charm that they bring to film. Fans the world over are drawn to the theater to experience a Coen Brothers film, almost independently of the plot of the movie itself.


Sofia Coppola

Coppola’s films explore themes of loneliness, fame, and family ties. Her breakthrough film was The Virgin Suicides. She is perhaps best known for Lost in Translation, a character study starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Her filmmaking approach is influenced by her background in art and fashion. This is particularly true of her historical film Marie Antoinette. Gia Walsh cites Coppola as one of her top influences.


Barry Jenkins

Jenkins is another American director bringing a highly unique and biting voice to the film industry. He boasts an Academy Award nomination for Best director and won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay as a result of his work on 2016’s Moonlight as well as numerous nominations for last year’s If Beale Street Could Talk.

Of the many factors contributing to Jenkins’ success, perhaps his most notable assets are his unique voice and unabashed representation of the issues that are often swept under the rug or whispered in hushed tones. He has addressed gentrification through his film Remigration and LGBT struggles with identity in his acclaimed film Moonlight.


Damien Chazelle

Chazelle is a French-American director best known for his breakout role directing Whiplash. More recently he made waves for writing and directing the musical La La Land, netting Damien 6 Oscars, among them the prestigious Best Director nod.

Damien’s charm lies in the deeply personal grounding that he brings to his films, many of which feature themes of music, particularly Jazz, which touch on his early years as a jazz drummer. While his career in music was short lived, his roots in Jazz were clearly influential as they were directly tied to his writing for Whiplash, and La La Land approaches the character of a struggling jazz musician with an authenticity that cannot be faked.


Martin Scorsese

One of the greatest independent directors who later experienced major commercial success, Scorsese has had an outsized impact on the world of film. His work in the crime genre is his best known, but he has also directed such different films as The Aviator and the animated film Hugo. His films often explore themes of masculinity and Italian-American heritage. The Departed won Best Picture in 2006.


Patty Jenkins

Patty Jenkins has an impressive range, from superhero epic Wonder Woman to the twisted crime drama Monster. She has a particular talent for showcasing the humanity of her characters, even the depraved character played by Charlize Theron in Monster.

Gia Walsh has been personally inspired by the devotion of each of these directors and the way they have fearlessly worked to break the mold. Their continued success is a testament to the passion and commitment that is needed for an up-and-comer to make a name for themselves in a hyper-competitive industry.

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Jan Hines

A startup nerd and compulsive writer, Jan provides streamline information on the hottest trends and news.

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