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Ep. 18: Kirsten Schaffer Works to Achieve Gender Parity as Executive Director of Women In Film LA

"I didn't really have any career goals starting out. I really just followed my passion and I think that passion plus strategy is a wiser way to go."

This week's episode features Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Women In Film LA, on her work to achieve gender parity in the industry.

We chat with Kirsten on her fascinating career path from volunteering at film festivals to curating films and growing OutFest Film Festival to her current job heading up a non-profit, the non-profit industry, doing what she loves, career burnout and change, and advice for younger women.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • Women in Film has 35 chapters globally and aims to secure gender parity in the film world.
  • Kirsten is responsible for overseeing the organization and reporting to the board.
  • Before this Kirsten spent 14 years working at Outfest.
  • Kirsten started with early career volunteer work which led to paid work.
  • The arts non-profit world has such long hours because it is so underfunded.
  • Many people who join the arts non-profit world are following a passion and have few business skills.
  • Kirsten manages her time by booking long calls for when she's driving.
  • In the film world there is a definite gender bias, similar to that in tech or finance.
  • 50% of people in film school are women, 25% of films at Sundance are directed by women, 4% of top grossing films are directed by women.
  • Women in Film tries to create change by putting on unconscious boas training for studios and production companies.
  • They have also implemented a reward system for programs and films that achieve gender parity.
  • She feels that non-profits should be scaled according to their ability to make money.


  • People looking to get into film festivals should volunteer while they are young and without debt.
  • You need to recognize when you're burnt out.
  • Plan your life a little more strategically; think about goals and when you want to have a family.
  • Travel as much as you can before you have kids.
  • Plan your life strategically.

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