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Sundance Women Producers: Meet Sophia Lin – ‘Z for Zachariah’

Sundance Women Producers: Meet Sophia Lin - 'Z for Zachariah'

Sophia Lin is a producer and production manager. Her previous credits include Camp X-Ray, Take Shelter, and Friends with Kids

Z for Zachariah 
premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 24. 

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

SL: In the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, a young
woman who believes she is the last human on Earth meets a dying scientist
searching for survivors. Their relationship becomes tenuous when another male
survivor appears. As the two men compete for the woman’s affection, their
primal urges begin to reveal their true nature.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

SL: I really loved Ann, Margot Robbie’s character. Her growth and the
evolving dynamic between her and Loomis, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is
fascinating. We see the phases of a relationship play out, first in a positive
way, then in a much more difficult and unusual way.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

SL: The physical production was incredibly challenging. We found a very
remote valley on the Banks Peninsula, an area of the South Island of New
Zealand, that even our Kiwi crew said most New Zealanders didn’t make it to.
There was no cell service. We had one phone line in the office. Those are
limitations you don’t encounter these days! Our last week was another region,
called Methven. It was beautiful, but also very difficult to get in and out of
the location. We helicoptered our equipment and cast in and the crew had to
hike in 20 minutes each way. And then on the last day of shooting, which was
the last day of summer, it actually snowed. It was an amazing experience, but
physically very tough.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the
theatre?

SL: I want them to wonder about the futures of these characters. That’s what
I think about when I see the movie — what’s going to happen to them?

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors/producers?

SL: I just read a piece in the New York Times that observed that not only do
women tend to be critiqued in more negative terms than men, they’re also more
likely to be interrupted while speaking in a group dynamic. It is definitely really easy to get run over in something as innocuous
as a conversation, much less in the midst of a large production. Sometimes, I’ve
had to make a point of saying, “I’m speaking now. Please let me finish.” A few
times I’ve said it in a way that takes people aback, but it was the right thing
to do. I realize as advice, it sounds so basic as to be ridiculous, but I think
it’s necessary.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got
the film made.

SL: CAA brought aboard our sales agents, Lotus, and our financier, Silver
Reel. In the course of the long road to getting it financed, I reached out to
some people, but ultimately it was all done through CAA.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

SL: I love Amy Heckerling’s Clueless — the shininess of everything, even the dialogue, in
the movie, how astoundingly charming Alicia Silverstone is as Cher, how
adorable young Paul Rudd is! It’s funny, sweet, and heartfelt even despite
the seemingly plastic overlay on everything, which is the whole point of the movie.

Little Women is one of my all-time favorite books, and I loved Gillian
Armstrong’s version of it. I was a huge fan of Winona Ryder, so while it’s a
ridiculous stretch for her to say her hair was her one beauty as Jo, I still
love her in the film and the rest of the cast. Christian Bale as Laurie and
Gabriel Byrne as Professor Baer! And Kirsten Dunst as young Amy! It’s
beautifully designed, costumed, and shot. Just love it. I could watch both of
these movies over and over again — and have. 

Dee Rees’ Pariah is so beautiful and heartbreaking. Outwardly, I don’t have much
in common with Alike, the main character, but her feelings of fear and love and
disappointment and hurt are so universal. It’s such an amazing — and beautifully
shot — film done on, like, $5. A truly great work.

I haven’t seen Selma yet. I can’t wait.

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