Keep your circle tight with people you trust that will support and have your back through good times and bad. That is gold, especially in this industry. Do be willing to allow others in, but keep a cautious eye out and open up to those close to you.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Miranda Spigener-Sapon.
Miranda is a multiple-award winning writer/director. A graduate of UT/Austin with a BFA in Film/Television and Communications, Miranda’s student short True was purchased and screened by L’Entrepôt Cinema in Paris, France (1997). She later directed a series Eat Art for PBS that aired in 5 US markets (Houston, Austin, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles). In 2001, she Executive Produced/Wrote/Directed Marisa Romanov, a short that debut that year at the International Venice Film Festival Official Shorts Selection and received Audience Choice. The short also screened that year at Berlin Film Festival in the Alternate Selection. Spigener-Sapon’s play The Flame, in which she directed in 1997, received praised by The Village Voice during it’s Off-Broadway run at the former Bleecker Street Theatre in NYC and also by The Houston Press at the NY Deli Theatre in Houston, Texas. Later, in 2017, Miranda directed the 20th anniversary run of The Flame in Los Angeles, gaining praise from The Los Angeles Times and several blogger influencers. Miranda has produced and directed a number of local, regional and national commercial spots for television as well as documentary projects as a producer at Discovery Networks that included Walk On,, about equine/hippotherapy for the disabled. In 2017, Miranda directed the 20th anniversary run of The Flame at Metropolis in Santa Monica, gaining praise from The Los Angeles Times. In 2018, Miranda directed the stage adaptation of her WCOP award-winning, time-travel/sci-fi/romance short story, Coffee with John, which received a glowing mention in The Los Angeles Times.
Miranda produced/directed the documentary feature, Masculinity That Inspires Change and directed the short film The Power of Forgiveness, both acquired by Amazon and streaming on Prime. In Addition to her work in TV/film/theatre, Miranda was signed by Winterwolf Press to write a 4-book prequel series to her Marisa Romanov film with the first novel, Charles: A Marisa Romanov Story, to debut in 2021. She also produces a nationally syndicated podcast for iHeartRadio & Apple now in Season 2, Inspire Change with Gunter.
Most recently, Miranda made her narrative feature film debut as a director in her film “Lifelines”, a noir psychodrama starring Lew Temple, Ross Gosla and Fern Lim that takes the audience through the depths of mental illness and depression. It is set to debut in a wide release in 2021. Additionally, she is the Showrunner and Director of a sci-fi/animated/mixed media series “Haisley”, coming this fall to Amazon Prime.
A Texas native, Miranda Spigener-Sapon lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Felipe.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born and raised in Pasadena, Texas (part of the Greater Houston area). I was primarily raised by my dad and stepmom, both positive entrepreneurs that helped instill a solid work and business ethic alongside a good foundation of principles, morals and a strong sense to care about people and the environment. There is also a lot of arts related in my family history through music, fine arts and I have an aunt who is an award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always wanted to be in the creative arts and more particular as a writer/director. I don’t really have a specific example or story, other than that I like to create and share stories (whether fiction or non-fiction) that helps shed light and make the world a brighter place. When I founded my production company Noirtainment two years ago, it was with the motto: “Finding the light in the darkness”. So, all our projects are shot with a noir look cinematically, but in line with spreading a message of light to the world.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Oh, where do I start? One of my first gigs as a writer/director was in theatre around 1997 while I was in my final semester of film school and also working full-time for a NASA contractor, I received the opportunity to direct my play The Flame. The Flame was based on an award-winning short-story I wrote titled “Frozen in Time”. It was a great experience with a great cast/crew. Being on a real working set you learn so much as everything is collaborative and teamwork. This project had some interesting challenges because it was a bi-coastal production. I was in-person directing my cast in Houston at the New York Deli Theatre and then a team in New York City was producing an Off-Broadway live staged performance of the play at the former Bleecker Street Theatre. I was given a co-director credit in that as well and so that was my first time sending my notes via Skype and email. Both performances overlapped and received a sold-out short run with positive reviews in The Houston Press for the Houston production and The Village Voice for the NYC staged reading show. It was a fun and at the same time challenging experience that I’ll always appreciate. About 20 years later in 2017, “The Flame” returned to stage in Los Angeles to a sold out anniversary run with a new cast and was praised by Broadway World and The Los Angeles Times.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
As an artist, especially in independent film of trying to do everything yourself and that’s something that I always have to keep in check, but I think the funniest mistake was when I was planning to direct a short film I wrote. There was a miscommunication with the camera rental place and on day of the shoot, I ended up with no camera that day! Fortunately, that day was just a small crew of 2 and my actor. Had I communicated and not try to do everything myself then maybe I would have had a better backup. How we remedied that day was my actor had a small camera and we did a rehearsal and then we ended up shotting the main stuff with a full crew and the rest of the cast. I also allowed my main actor who was also a producer on it to help with some of those little things to make sure we didn’t forget anything. Lesson learned is always communicate and make sure you accept help from your team!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband Felipe has been a strong constant in my life and work. It is hard to trust people in this business and so keeping your circle tight with loved ones is key in your success. The other person would be an old friend DeVonna Prinzi, she was the actress/producer I mentioned in the last project and we have worked together since the beginning of my career when I was still in film school. We had a period where we temporarily lost touch, but managed to find our way to each other and now she is my Director of Creative Affairs at Noirtainment Productions.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Be nice to everyone if you can, even if folks are not so nice to you. The creative industry is very tough, cut-throat and as a highly sensitive person it can be very daunting at times, but if you remain steadfast in your goals, be honest and kind with your colleagues, associates and friends then you’ll do fine. Keep your circle tight, but also have an open mind to new relationships. Life is full of opportunity if you just smile, work hard and treat others as you’d like to be treated.
What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
The idea that I’m creating art with words, pictures and music. I’m helping to share light and empowerment while entertaining through the power of the arts. I don’t ask how can I help make things better, instead I observe, take a deep breath and I find a way to help and share through my resources and network.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
Right now in light of the pandemic, I’ve had to shift a few things, but I am the Showrunner/Creator and Director on a sci-fi/noir animated/live-action TV series called Haisley starring Bernard Robichaud (Netflix Original Series Trailer Park Boys/SyFy’s Haven) and Jeanine Harrington (she also co-stars in my upcoming film Lifelines due to be released in 2021) that is due out this fall on Amazon Prime. I’m also planning production on another sci-fi/dystopian limited series called The New also starring Bernard Robichaud and Andrew Flores (guest star on TNT’s Queen of the South). I am also writing 4 books from my publisher Winterwolf Press, the first of these books: “Charles: A Marisa Romanov Story” is due out in 2021. I also produce the global podcast Inspire Change with Gunter for iHeartRadio, Apple and Spotify. I have a few other projects going on, but I can’t discuss now due to strict NDAs.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
Being inclusive in this industry is very key. With the current climate #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it’s critical that we welcome people from all cultures and special interest groups into our projects. This includes not just hiring a diverse crew/cast, but also sharing and enlightening others through story. Everyone needs to consider walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. If you do, you’ll gain a greater depth of field and perception in life. When I directed my first narrative feature Lifelines, I had mostly an all-female crew and these females were in top positions from Camera Operator to the Assistant Director to the Lighting and Production Designers. I also chose to have the second lead in the film to be an Asian-American actress and the part was written as a strong female that defies stereotypes.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Hmmm…I try not to dwell on what I could have done, but I guess: First, utilize teamwork, don’t try and do everything yourself. Second, slow-down, don’t rush just to get it done…I’ve had a few things early on where had a took a little more time in detail, maybe things would have been better. Which that leads me to the third, seize it! I’m pretty good at going for what I want, but there are always those times you didn’t balance and moved to slow or got lost in the details instead of just going with it. It’s a delicate balance, but I’ve found that “balance” now…it takes a while to reach that. Four, listen more! Finally, as I said before, keep your circle tight with people you trust that will support and have your back through good times and bad. That is gold, especially in this industry. Do be willing to allow others in, but keep a cautious eye out and open up to those close to you.
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive?
Please share a story for each one if you can. I take long walks, especially near our house where the ocean is close by because water is a source of strength and inspiration as well as healing to my soul. I meditate and recently started training in Krav Maga…it is very empowering and a great work out. I don’t have any specific stories other than after a drive up the coast in my convertible or after a long walk with just my thoughts and sometimes my favorite music mix, I’ve come back with new perspective on a script I’m writing, story idea or a project I’m producing or directing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have several I think I paraphrased two in my answers earlier in this interview, but here are two I love:
“You have to live spherically — in many directions…never lose your childish enthusiasm and things will come your way.” — Federico Fellini
I like this quote from writer/director David Lynch because I love my work with actors in bringing a story to life a bit of great advice because when you go with your gut and have a great cast ALWAYS TRUST YOUR ACTORS and you will achieve magic from script to screen: “Somewhere in talking and rehearsing, there is a magical moment where actors catch a current, they’re on the right road…if they really catch it, then whatever they do from then on is correct and it comes out of them from that point on.”
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’m actually part of a global movement started by one of my key collaborators and part of my circle of trusted colleagues and friend: Gunter Swoboda, psychologist/author. It’s called Making Good Men Great and this movement inspires change, inclusiveness and gender equality.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens! Writer/Director David Lynch. He is one of the master creators in finding the light in the darkness through his work in cinema and art and just a good, inspirational person.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!