In our first feature under our year long project – EMPHASIZE FEMALE TALENT – we got to connect with Cailin Lowry. She’s witty from the start, even on her ‘about me’ page. She seems like one of those girls you meet at a random party & become close with immediately. Her work speaks volumes about the person she is – well connected with culture yet has a firm grasp on important social issues. She considers herself a producer-writer-director [in that order] who makes a living as a freelance producer.
Her work is usually in some phase of music video producing. She just finished directing a promo for a non-profit, Girls Who Code. It’s an organization that is working to close the gender gap in computer science. It was her first time being hired as a director and this time the story is all about female empowerment. Not too shabby.
The most consistent project for her is called Girl Band — it’s a TV concept she’s been working on since junior year of college with two other girls (Kerry Furrh and Olivia Mitchell). They co-directed/wrote/produced the short film version of it last year and it ended up premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Through Tribeca we got representation and a production company involved to help develop and sell Girl Band. So, right now Cailin is splitting her time 50% producing and 50% on developing Girl Band.
Photo courtesy: Kerry Furrh
EYES & EDGE: You were born in North Carolina but was raised in Asia. How did that upbringing shape your perspective
Caitlin Lowry: I spent ages 7 to 18 in Asia with the time split equally between Kobe, Japan and Shanghai, China. Growing up abroad allowed me to appreciate diversity at a young age which has been invaluable throughout my life. I traveled extensively during my formative years so I feel like I was able to begin understanding how simultaneously big and small the world is when I was relatively young. My associations with American culture came from watching movies and TV which made for a cultural weird transition when I moved back for college. I expected life in the U.S. to be a lot more like Gilmore Girls and John Hughes movies than it actually is (which I guess is both fortunate and unfortunate!)
E&E: You mentioned that you started “Girl Band” while a junior in college. This is pretty impressive. What sparked the inspiration?
Cailin: The meet cute story between me and my two co-creators of “Girl Band” (Kerry Furrh and Olivia Mitchell) involves admiring each other from a far while we were all studying at the University of Southern California. Olivia had an active YouTube musician channel in college and Kerry shot all the videos for her. Particularly as someone with zero musical talent but a great love for music, I was a big fan of their videos. In the meantime, I had an blog about life at USC that they were reading. I ended up having a film class with Kerry my junior year. We were both interested in comedic stories about young women, realized we mutually admired each other’s talents, and started hanging out. Kerry, Olivia and I clicked socially and creatively — when you find that combination, you have to hold on to it! Our hang outs naturally progressed into trying to figure out how to make a TV show that we would’ve wanted to watch when we were teenage girls… Eventually, “Girl Band” came to be. We shot a proof of concept for it in September 2015 that ended up premiering at Tribeca last year and opened a lot of doors for us. Hopefully more “Girl Band” will come into the world soon!
E&E: Your project with Girls Who Code is very intriguing. It’s inspiring your first time directing a piece was for such an empowering movement. Tell us a little more about this project. Is there a direction that you are looking to go with?
Cailin: When you and I first connected I had just found out I’d be directing a promo for Girls Who Code. As a freelancer, I generally am producing so it has been exciting for me to get more directing experience particularly for an organization that is so close to my personal priorities. Girls Who Code is a non-profit organization that is committed to closing the gender gap in technology. The promo I directed is aimed at recruiting educators to facilitate Girls Who Code clubs at their schools. Though freelancing sometimes means taking on projects that pay the bills, my ultimate goal is to consistently work on projects that are empowering for females. My priority with writing and directing is portraying females who feel closer to reality than a lot of the tropes we’re used to seeing in media. I hope I achieved that with the Girls Who Code project!
E&E: It’s hard getting into any industry, especially film. Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to start this career path?
Cailin: I’m still very much at the beginning of my career, but I’ve learned some important lessons over the last few years. It’s essential to have talented friends who inspire, motivate, and hire you. Find people that you genuinely enjoy working with. Some of my favorite times are on set because I’m able to work with my friends. In the first year of freelancing, I took most of what came my way. I was underpaid and did lots of favors. While those experiences were essential to establishing contacts and adjusting to the learning curve of freelance producing, people entering this industry do need to understand the value they bring to a project. Your value increases with experience, so adjust your rate accordingly. (I am still working on this!) Sometimes it’s a delicate balance between making connections and being taken advantage of — be aware of that! As a producer, I focus on making sure everyone feels valued on a project.
E&E: What would you classify as your favorite part of the job?
Cailin: I love solving problems. That applies across the board as a producer, writer, and director.