Inspirational women in the film industry — Part 2: Interview with Lisa Scheid
Today we continue with our blog series “Inspirational women in the film industry”.
We brought this series to life last year, aiming to motivate, inspire and empower females in the film industry by sharing the success stories of other women in this branch.
This time, we had the chance to talk to Lisa Scheid, who is one of the few female CEOs in the film production business. She runs the creative production company Das R& in Austria, which not only creates big budget TV spots, but also innovative and entertaining video formats.
What sets her apart is her exceptional and holistic approach to leading a business with responsibility which applies to a multitude of different areas of her professional life.
Aligned with various New Work philosophies, she has laid the foundation for a positive corporate culture at Das R&, for example, with valuable working conditions for her employees, such as a four-day workweek and no gender pay gap.
Another topic that is very close to her heart is sustainability. Since 2021, she has implemented various sustainability measures to transform Das R& into a green and climate-friendly (and long-term climate-neutral) production company, ranging from saving energy in the office or strictly vegetarian or vegan catering to mobility that is as green as possible. These efforts have already been rewarded by receiving the Austrian eco-label as the first commercial film production company.
Further, she regularly tries to raise awareness of relevant social issues through the production of independent film projects, such as the upcoming work “The World Needs Less” or “The Alliance: #sheroes”.
We’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Lisa about the latter, her unique approach to running a business and much more in the interview below.
- 1 The film industry has long had a reputation for being male-dominated. Would you agree with that based on your experience and what have you done to stand out as a woman over the years?
It's true that there are often more barriers for women on their way to stepping into the spotlight. For our pitches, we specifically have to look for female directors and DoPs since they are much harder to find. But things are changing now, and I'm glad to see that they are better represented from year to year. To support this development, I see it as my responsibility to push young women to follow their dreams and to offer them my network and connections.
I am lucky enough to be in a privileged position with my own film production company, but sadly, being a female CEO is already a reason to stand out in Austria. My holistic approach to leading with love and courage is definitely something that attracts attention. Through this, I hope to be a role model for many other women to follow.
- 2 Why are still few women involved in film productions? What are the reasons for that?
Since there are a lot of technical professions (camera, light, sound) in the film and TV industry, a certain number of males is still the norm – as well as in other industry sectors with a technical focus. I wish for more women to dare to do something “atypical” professional-wise if that is what they want.
But for me, it's always the person and the skill that counts; it doesn't matter what gender.
This is why I am doing things differently at Das R&. Respect is very important to me, which is why it is part of my company philosophy. And I mean respect not just towards me because I am the boss, but towards each other – people show their actual colors by how they treat others.
- 3 Why is empathy so important? And what are some personal traits that you admire the most in people?
Empathy is a very important character trait because it keeps you open to different stories, opinions, and lifestyles. And our world is made of a bazillion different stories and paths – nothing is just black or white, nothing is just right or wrong. It would be naive to think, that one has all the knowledge about everything. If you stay open and empathetic you will have so many amazing interactions, from which you can learn or be inspired (or not, it’s always your choice).
- 4 Throughout your career, who were your biggest inspirations? And what was the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
I have a very open mindset, so I find inspiration everywhere. During my travels, when I am walking in nature, or waiting at the doctor’s office. If you just stay open to your environment, you can always find something that inspires you. The best advice was something I received while I was reading a book that I didn't even finish because, at some point, it bored me, or I wasn’t aligned with the author's opinions. But at one point, he said something like, “the less I work, the more efficient I am.” One could debate this statement on many levels, but what I took from it was the importance of personal wellbeing. If we feel good and are happy and content, we also work better. That insight sparked the idea of a four-day workweek and other management changes I implemented in my company.
- 5 What has been your bravest career moment?
I don’t know if it’s the biggest one, but it definitely was a turning point for me. Last year, during a time when our company didn’t receive that many job requests, I declined a high-paid offer for a production because it didn’t match our company values. In business terms, it was quite risky, but I am still happy that I decided this way. I think Karma rewarded us. Shortly after my decline, we had many other offers incoming which were a much better fit.
- 6 Last year you received a lot of positive feedback for the film “The Alliance: #sheroes”, which was produced for International Women’s Day. What was the intention and message behind it?
One of my main goals is to realize a passion project once a year to transport our values. Films have one of the biggest influences these days in our daily lives, and therefore it's an excellent opportunity to tell our own stories with a meaning and a message behind.
Last year we focused on gender equality as well as the power of unity.
The film is about female solidarity in front of the camera and behind the scenes. On-screen, it shows five prominent female role models such as Michelle Obama or Stefanie Germanotta alias Lady Gaga – all considered pioneers in their field – as teenagers in a fantasy scenario of the same high school.
This setting makes our five sheroes so approachable because they are in an environment that is known to all of us. During the individual scenes, they are confronted with different accusations as off-voices that want to unsettle them. But these voices cannot harm our five heroines – they choose to challenge them by staying surprisingly calm, with strength, and smiling at their critics. They know: They are not fighting this fight alone. Their friends and allies got their backs. That is what gives them the trust and support they need to do their own thing.
In line with the content of the in-house production “The Alliance: #sheroes,” we had over 50% women on the set, a rare case in the Austrian film industry.
- 7 And finally, our last question, please finish this sentence: If I were a film, I would be… And why?
Intuitively, I would say “Little Miss Sunshine”. This movie gives me such a good feeling, even though its plot is quite tragic and sad. But in its tragedy, there is so much warmth, optimism, and resilience. It’s a chaotic family road trip, an emotional journey where people have to grow, learn to accept each other, and how to deal with life’s hardships. During that, they never lose their hope and belief in each other. And that’s something I hope defines my personality as well.