This week we’re excited to highlight the very talented Jillian Iscaro. Jillian is a director, editor, and artist based in New York. We discovered this excellent piece she directed for Madewell’s International Women’s Day campaign and fell in love with her sensibilities as we saw more of her work.


How and when did you decide to get into the world of video production? 

I’ve always been interested in art and telling stories, so filmmaking wasn’t a far stretch.  I grew up watching anime and reading manga, and wanted to be an animator as a kid.  I wound up studying film in university and just went from there.  I’m not sure what drives me.  Motivation has always been an elusive force.  Sometimes I just want to give up, but the one thing I’ve always loved doing is creating things – so that’s what I keep doing.


What makes your video directing style unique?

A lot of my visual aesthetics stem from my dreams and my illustrations, and a lot of my work has to do with introspection and reflection.  The act of looking, being looked at, and your relationship with yourself.  The female gaze has always been something that’s interested me, I think even before I really knew what it was.  I also really like to play around with compositing and VFX.  A lot of the projects I’ve worked on are low budget, so I’m always trying to maximize the footage.  And of course colors.  I love colors, gelled lights, lighting transitions.  I also try to shoot a little bit of film on most projects – even if it’s just a couple minutes of super 8 or a roll of 16.


What video production project are you most proud of?

The productions I feel reflect my aesthetics and sensibilities the most are the videos I made for Destination Swimwear and New Balance x Todd Snyder.

Destination Swimwear was technically challenging, and really tested my abilities in VFX.


The New Balance x Todd Snyder was just a great experience working with amazing people, and they were very open to the creative I wanted to execute – playing with flares, colors, and of course it was for a great cause and message. I brought the idea to him and he jumped on board so am very proud of this one. It was one of the original girls skateboarding pieces and something that inspired many other skateboarding pieces around the world.


What is it like being a black woman in the video production world?

It’s hard to concretely verbalize what it’s like to be female and black in the world of video production – or even in the world in general.  I’ve been fortunate to work with mostly great people, but there are definitely instances where you feel like you don’t belong, or people doubt your credentials.  I’ve walked onto set and been asked if I’m the talent or the 2nd AC when I’m there to direct, so it can be a little awkward.  I’m actually quite shy and introverted.  I think I don’t really seem like a “director.”  Sometimes there’s this feeling of being tokenized – you kind of feel like a spider monkey doing a trick.  I’m not very good at talking myself up, so honestly I don’t really like to talk about my woman-ness or blackness.  It starts to feel contrived and redundant.  I think the industry is changing though and I do see a lot more women on set in general.


Do you think it’s important to help other women in the film industry? How do you do this?

Yeah. The most direct way to help other women is to hire them and get their name out there. I work with this one DP who was having a hard time getting any beauty jobs because she hadn’t done it before, and so I really pushed for her to get hired on a beauty video I was directing, and she’s actually gotten several more jobs because of that. And just staying connected, seeing who’s up to what, talking about our projects, helping each other out on passion projects. Several women in production have reached out to me on social platforms, and while I might not be able to hire them immediately it’s great to have a roster of people going and be connected with them.


What kinds of video production agencies do you like working with?

In an ideal world, I would love to be able to execute my creative vision from start to finish, but I know that in working with brands and companies that have such established voices, it is not always possible to do that to large extents. I love working with agencies that work with me and the client to find that perfect balance so that I can get my job done and create the vision and desired effect on the audience. I also get to work with some of the top in the production world who I could really not do that without including Finch Company in Australia and Steam Films in Canada.


What do you think makes a video production impactful?

When everyone involved has the freedom to be their own artist and create.


What kinds of video production agencies do you like working with?

Anyone who’s down to do something cool and doesn’t take things too seriously.  I like to experiment and try things out; you don’t always have the freedom to do so but when you do it’s great.


Who are some of your dream clients? 

Myself.  Ultimately I want to have the freedom to create narrative films.


Where do you see the commercial video production industry moving?

It’s all up in the air at the moment.  I really have no clue.  The next year will be interesting.


Do you have any advice for other women filmmakers?

Haha I’m not sure.  Honestly I could use some advice!  Be resilient and find people who believe in you and want to work with you just as you are.  If you want to do something, start taking small steps now.


We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Jillian. As a woman-owned creative agency and video production company, Ezra Productions is committed to working with women and marginalized communities to enable them to excel in the production industry. If you’re looking for a commercial video production agency in Los Angeles or New York, contact us to get started on your project today.