Friend of the Week – Tiffany Shlain
We met Tiffany back in the aughts when she helmed her first venture the Webby Awards, which the New York Times called the Oscars of the Internet. Tiffany’s beautiful mind, supersized smile, and collaborative spirit are just a few attributes that initially attracted us. Since then she’s become a member of our tribe and a loving confidante who has boundless energy, creativity, and the ability to pull together fascinating ideas and people, both in her films and personal life, in ways that enrich and inspire.
Your City: Mill Valley, CA
Tiffany’s Whats – “My new film 50/50 explores the 10,000 year history of women + power — in 20 minutes — and asks, where are we really on the greater arc of history of women and power? And what’s it going to take to get to a #5050 world — not just politics and board rooms, but truly shifting the gender balance to be better for everyone.”
FRIEND OF THE WEEK: 11 QUESTIONS
WEBSITE: TIFFANY SHLAIN
FACEBOOK: TIFFANY SHLAIN FILMS
1. Nickname: I don’t have one.
2. What’s your short story? Going to the movies when I was a kid was the big weekly ritual. We didn’t go to temple regularly but you could say we went to the temple of cinema. Each Sunday we would go to see a film and then go to Chinese food and ice cream where we would discuss all aspects of the film. Films were a way to talk about the meaning of life. But I never thought I could be a filmmaker for a living. I was supposed to be surgeon….and yet… I did became a filmmaker. I used to pay for my films working in tech. Then saw the web, became obsessed with it and founded The Webby Awards in 1996. After nearly a decade running The Webbys, I wanted to return to filmmaking full-time combined with the power of the web to make social change in the world. I started my film studio in SF in 2005. That’s what I do. Make films combined with the web to launch global conversations….really in many ways scaling those weekly conversations I had as a kid.
3. What’s your jam? “My way,” by Frank Sinatra. I have always enjoyed carving my own path and doing things my own way. I happily live in the Bay Area as a filmmaker…many people would think you need to live in LA for that. It’s quite liberating to run a film studio here….doing it my way.
4. What motivates you? I think the thing that motivates me the most is death. Having my father die 7 years ago..and just understanding so deeply the shortness of life and that you must live knowing that it could end at any moment…and never have regrets. I keep that knowledge really close to me and it informs the urgency, depth, and width that I live in this life. Working hard, playing hard and spending lots of time with my family and friends. I have a strong work ethic during the week that comes from my immigrant grandparents…but I also value not working and being with my family. My family and I unplug completely from all technology from Friday nights to Saturday nights for what we call our “Technology Shabbats.” It grounds me in a deep way.
I also feel a great responsibility to continue to build on everything that has come before me. As a Jewess, as a woman. I never take any of it for granted.
5. Who do you think you’d have great friend chemistry with?
a. Albert Einstein..he reminds me of my dad..because he was brilliant and hamisha. …and my dad and I were great friends.
b. Maya Deren, the experimental filmmaker (considered the mother of independent cinema) who used to show films in her apartment in the west village and become a voodoo priestess.
c. Maude from Harold & Maude….. She lived life so passionately.
d. Gilda Radner…because she is a Jewess and I love her sense of humor. We would have had a lot of fun together.
6. What qualities do your favorite friends have in common? Love laughing, fashion, family, good food and making things happen.
7. What’s the smartest, most inspiring, awesome thing you’ve read, watched, or listened to? “Whatever you think or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”- Goethe. I have had that quote above my desk since I was a child. The very act of doing something, of starting something has great power to it. It is my guiding principle in life. If feels like a secret potion…that by doing, and focusing and working very hard on something, many good things will follow.
8. What whets your appetite? Traveling to somewhere I have never been before. Having an experience I have never had.
9. What’s next on your To Do List? After my new film launches into the world, I plan to hibernate with my family this winter with lots of cooking and hanging.
10. How are you friends with Gina + Amy? Gina I have known since the early days when she was starting Splendor and I was starting the Webbbys…and we have grown very close this past 5 years…I love Gina’s laugh.
11. What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received? When I was pregnant and I was seeking advice from a woman who had a career and children..she said, “get comfortable that you will never really find balance. It will constantly be changing.” I like how she set my expectations properly…and someone once told me before I got married …”Fight naked. It will keep the fights short.”