BABE #175: CARRIE STETT, Director + Filmmaker
As a director, Carrie works on everything from commercials and documentaries to music videos and branded entertainment for companies like Toyota, Kleenex and Revlon — to name a few. In addition to her impressive production portfolio, Carrie is a screenwriter and has been a finalist for various screenplay competitions. Maintaining these roles in addition to working with actors, coaching performances and coordinating with the many departments she has a hand in, Carrie gracefully keeps a balance between the technical and creative demands of her role — oftentimes as the only woman in the room.
Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana
Current city: Los Angeles
Alma mater: Emerson College
Very first job: I worked as a runner in a hospital in high school; I wanted to be a doctor.
Babe you admire and why?
There are so many. I admire women from history, like Katharine Graham, Eleanor Roosevelt, Zelda Fitzgerald. As for people today, I’ve met so many non-famous women through the various projects I’ve done and subjects I’ve covered. Women who are quietly making our world a better place. Their stories amaze me and I want to keep telling them through film.
How do you spend your free time?
Free time? Ha. Spending time with my family. And I love to play tennis; I played during college and still love to get out there as often as I can.
Favorite app, website or blog?
I love John August and Craig Mazin’s Scriptnotes podcast. It’s all about screenwriting. I love how nerdy and granular they get about writing and storytelling. Brilliant.
Go-to adult beverage?
Anything with whiskey.
Go-to power anthem?
The other day “I’m Every Woman” came on the radio and I thought YASSSS.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Steak frites from Le Relais de l’Entrecote in Paris.
What is something you want to learn or master?
I’d love to play piano really well.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Part of what I do for a living is interview people, so this is a long list. But, I’ll say Tina Fey.
Tell us about your hustle, providing an overview of your job and roles.
I’m a filmmaker. I direct commercials, documentaries, branded entertainment, music videos, etc.
What does your typical workday look like?
My typical workdays vary greatly, and that’s one thing I love about the job. Most days I’m doing creative decks and pitches for projects, which are blueprints and visualizations of what something will look like once it’s shot. I often write the scripts, too. I work closely with agencies, brands and production companies to bring everyone’s vision to life. Then, on shoot days, I’m on-set, on my feet the entire day. It’s working with actors and real people on camera, coaching performances and working with the director of photography and other departments to make sure it all looks good. It’s both creative and technical.
How long have you been a filmmaker?
I’ve been on this path for many years but have struggled to get to this point, which is where I always wanted to be—but wasn’t sure how to get here. There weren’t—aren’t—many roadmaps to being a female director. I started out wanting to be a screenwriter. I still love it, but I’m not happy sitting in a room typing all day, by myself. I love interacting with people and I love being able to work with a team to physically make something.
How has your career path evolved over time?
It very much evolved over time. I worked in many different jobs across the industry, from production assistant, to production manager, to producer. When content on social media first became a thing, people in the industry saw it as second-class to tell stories online, but I saw it as a window of opportunity. And now, dozens of my videos have gotten more views than Monday Night Football.
Have you always been passionate about storytelling?
Heck yeah! The passion for storytelling comes from a deep deep place in my soul. I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe being from the South and the southern literary tradition. I’ve always been an observer of people. I’ve thought many times of doing something else, because there are so many other jobs out there that have job security and would be much more stable paths to making a living. But this is something I have to do, and I’m the kind of person who puts 110 percent into anything I do. So, here I am, world!
What has your experience with reality TV and general television been like?
Working in reality TV gave me a love of authentic storytelling. It was an incredible training ground for production, because I got to wear so many hats. I did not enjoy a lot of the types of shows out there that I characterize as having a negative spirit, but now I’m always trying to find the authenticity in whatever story I’m telling.
How much collaboration goes into every new project you work on?
It’s all about collaboration. I work with producers, set designers, editors, DPs and many other roles. Each project is different in terms of the size of crew it requires. I have a handful of people I work with on a regular basis and trust.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
I was doing a campaign for Kleenex and Facebook. One of my first videos was a small-but-sweet story about a disabled man and his dog, both in wheelchairs. It’s called “Unlikely Best Friends.” The day it went online, we noticed the views were growing by the minute. It went viral and was getting 10 million views a day for about a week. AdWeek named it one of the most viral videos of 2015.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
Where do I start? More often than not, I’m the lone girl in a room full of guys. I grew up playing sports and playing touch football with the neighborhood kids, so I don’t mind. But it’s so refreshing when there are other gals in the mix. I constantly feel like I have to work twice as hard and be twice as smart and keep reminding people that yes, I can do this, too—because I don’t fit the stereotype.
What’s one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work?
Not believing in my vision. Once I started doing that, things changed.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Ava DuVernay. Reese Witherspoon. Anyone telling female-driven stories.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
Do internships and PA work. Get your foot in the door and build relationships.
What motivates and inspires you?
Besides telling stories? I want my daughter to believe she can be anything she wants to be.
What does success look like to you?
Being able to make a living doing what I love.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Exercise. Lots of it. I don’t know if I ever wind down.
What are some notable experiences you’ve had on the job?
I was filming in a remote Romanian village and the head male gypsy asked our crew if he could keep me as one of his wives. It’s funny—now.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’d love to direct one of my own screenplays. (Or any narrative screenplay, for that matter.)
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Believe in yourself and what you want to do. Just because someone tells you no doesn’t mean you can’t do something.
What’s next for you?
I’m developing some of my own projects, including a documentary. And I’m doing some interesting branded work.