Meet Sarah Winshall

Sarah Winshall is a graduate of NYU’s Cinema Studies program and has a Master’s Degree in Media Management from The New School. After working in the film-programming department at the Museum of the Moving Image and teaching documentary filmmaking to high school students in New York, she spent several years distributing independent films and social documentaries. She now works as an independent producer, championing personal films with unique worldviews. Her work includes Bridey Elliott’s directorial debut “Affections” (Sundance, 2016); “Call Your Father”, a queer romantic comedy from writer-actor Jordan Firstman (Atlanta Film Festival, 2017); Gillian Wallace Horvat’s short comedy about gender discrimination in the workplace, “Whiskey Fist” (SXSW, 2017); ¡Las Sandinistsa! (ITVS, 2017), a feature documentary about the female Sandinistas who lead the Revolution in 1970s Nicaragua; and the film shorts Men Don’t Whisper (2017) and Tond (2016). She is currently in development on her first narrative feature, Clara’s Ghost, a spooky comedy starring Bridey, Abby, and Chris Elliott to shoot in the fall of 2017. Sarah is also a film critic whose writing frequently appears in Under the Radar, Screen Slate, and Filmmaker Magazine.


on her morning routine

I'm big on the snooze button. But once I'm up, I like to potter about the house tidying, etc until my brain is awake. Then I get dressed, make a coffee and a morning snack, and dig into my emails. Unless I have meetings or something, once I'm in my computer, I'm in the zone. A few hours later, I look up and it's like 3 PM. So I try to get as much done before I sit down at my desk as possible.

on collaborating

Bridey Elliott is my primary collaborator. She and I met while working at Kim's Video in the East Village. We had similar taste in movies and were sort-of admirers of each other. When she moved out to LA, we started hanging out and decided to make a film together. "Affections" had a really good run so all of her friends started asking her about me. Lucky for me, Bridey's friends are amazingly talented so I didn't have to look far to find other collaborators. I've found that once you start working on low budget sets in Los Angeles, you realize that everybody knows each other. Before I broke in, I didn't know anyone working on films the way I wanted to. But I started asking around, took a couple of more experienced producers out to coffee and picked their brains, started getting hired as a Production Coordinator, and suddenly, a year later I had amassed a team of people who I can call to work with any time. It's really very comforting and wonderful.

on her film background

It's a surprising symbiotic relationship. I see a lot of movies and am always looking for little storytelling tricks to steal from the filmmakers I love. Having a strong film history background helps when talking to directors and cinematographers because we can share references. As a filmmaker, it can be hard to give a film a bad review because I know how much work it takes to make a movie. But that makes me all the more critical - the movie has to mean something in order to be worth the hardship of making it.


Watch: Casio,    Bedding: Ikea

Watch: Casio, Bedding: Ikea

Love, H is such a great read, and very timely. It’s a collection of letters between two pen pals spanning from the 1950s to nearly current day. The two women, Hetty and Helene, were both artists who struggled with sexism and writer’s block, and trying to raise their families as single moms, etc etc. They are wonderful letter-writers, and have amazing chemistry. Highly recommended!
— on her favorite book

on how she began her career

I've been pretty deep into movies for a long time. In college I was a Cinema Studies major. Then, after dicking around working retail and in food service for a couple of years, the recession hit and I went back to school to get a Masters in Media Studies. While in grad school, I was working at the Museum of the Moving Image and at Kim's Video where I basically learned everything about movies that I didn't already know. It was great. When I moved back to Los Angeles in 2013, I held a few day jobs but it was so obvious I wasn't into it, so when the opportunity came up to produce 'Affections' with my friend Bridey, I jumped at the chance. That really changed my career track.

on what it takes to be a producer

A good producer is someone who can glean their collaborator's intentions for the film early on. They have to be able to critique and foster experimentation and creativity in their collaborators. But at the same time, a good producer is organized and hardworking enough to bring the film to life as imagined. It's a delicate dance between feeling like you are the boss, the parent, the assistant, and the lover at all times.

on the best part of her career

I love to work really closely with the writer/directors throughout. So I try to be involved as early as possible, helping craft the script. It makes it easier to get the results we want when we go into production. Once the script is locked, we start pooling our resources and assembling the team. Production is a blur, and then my favorite part is hovering over my editor's shoulder as we craft the final edit. This is obviously a very distilled description of the filmmaking process.

on her hobbies and interests

I do a lot of things that are just for me! I am trying to get better at drawing and painting. I got this book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and it has really helped. I want to get good enough to go to the open figure-drawing session at my neighbor's house. I also love to bake bread. I just use Mark Bittman's simple no-knead recipe and embellish it with assorted seeds. It's very satisfying to be able to make a loaf of bread from scratch, and easier than I thought it would be.

Shirts & Jeans: Vintage, Watch: Casio, Turntable: Teac

Shirts & Jeans: Vintage, Watch: Casio, Turntable: Teac

Sarah's favorite beauty products


on her beauty routine

I travel a lot so I look for beauty products that won't spill or explode in my suitcase. Jao Seed Oil is a rollerball and smells amazing. Boscia Cleansing Stick Treatment comes in a stick form so it doesn't leak. I love that stuff. Otherwise, I try not to wear a ton of makeup or products. Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer and Benefit's Hoola Bronzer are probably the only products I wear every single day. The rest of the time, I am either on a no-makeup kick or I'm messing around with eyeliner. I also recommend NYX Tinted Brow Mascara and Vaseline Lip Therapy Rosy Lips Lip Balm.

on personal style

Most of my clothes are probably hand-me-downs from my mom or from friends. I have a bi-annual clothing swap that is great for refreshing the wardrobe without spending money. Squaresville in Los Feliz is great for vintage, and I also love going to Nonna in Highland Park and getting something fancy every once in a while.

on home decor

Interior decorating really stresses me out. I haven't quite gotten to a place where I am designing my space with confidence. I definitely overthink it, so when I find things I like for the house, I just go for it and hope that it all fits together nicely.  I am lucky I have a lot of patient friends with great senses of design to help me when I'm feeling unsure. Also, my parents are avid travelers and pack rats so a lot of the things in my house are old souvenirs from past vacations that were just sitting in the basement.

My experience has been extremely positive. It is important to me to crew up with at least some women, and as a result I have found several other female producers on a similar career path. We watch out for each other and work together as much as possible. I have managed to foster a lot of camaraderie which definitely helps as we all make our way in this male-dominated field.
— on being a producer
Watch: Casio,    Bedding: Ikea

Watch: Casio, Bedding: Ikea

Coat: Madewe   ll, Jeans: Vintage,    Top: Alix   , Boots: Barneys

Coat: Madewell, Jeans: Vintage, Top: Alix, Boots: Barneys

sarah's favorite books

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber: A Special Publication of The Library of America by Manny Farber, Love, H: The Letters of Helene Dorn and Hettie Jones by Hettie Jones, Mosquitoes by William Faulkner 

sarah's favorite records

More Fun In the New World by X, Oogum Boogum Song by Brenton Wood, Valley Girl: Music From The Soundtrack by Scott Wilk, 
Music Is Painting In the Air by Sensations' Fix

sarah's favorite movies

Something Wild, The Blues Brothers, L'Atalante, Something Wild, Girl Friends

sarah's favorite places in la

Nonna in Highland Park for clothes

Stories in Echo Park for coffee and books

Taix in Echo Park for dinner & drinks

Videotheque in South Pasadena to rent movies

Echo Park Lake for walking, lounging, pedal boating, what have you




Photography by Lauren Moore