Director Valerie Weiss on strong female leads in storytelling

What’s the Story? is a storytelling video series dedicated to learning what truly makes a great story, told through the lens of the world’s talent and practitioners of the craft in entertainment, marketing and beyond.

Director Valerie Weiss has been on the front line of film and TV, but her background is certainly unique. With an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Princeton and and Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard, one would think that she would have gone down a decidedly different path.

But her love of creating stories is evident, with a theater and dance certificate from Princeton and, while at Harvard, she founded, was the filmmaker-in-residence and festival director of the Dudley House Film Program. It’s also clear that her love of film and science intersects as she and her husband founded PhD Productions, an independent film company in Hollywood, dedicated to making films that bridge art and science.

What makes a good story in her mind isn’t so much about a specific type of story or genre, but rather the strong emotional feeling she gets when she’s watching something.

Her film, The Archer, has a very strong female lead. She felt it was important to tell this story because it afforded a great opportunity to show how strong women are — a refreshingly consistent theme coming out of film in recent years. She believes that there needs to be more strong female characters and that it is important to show sons, daughters — everyone — that women are incredibly strong.

What's the Story? is sponsored by Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), the first global network for branded product integration in the entertainment industry, across all media, including the influencer space.

Filmed at SXSW

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Doug Zanger

Doug Zanger is the Americas editor for The Drum. He leads the Americas editorial team’s content activity in the growing region. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is committed to sharing the most meaningful stories that benefit the global industry and its people. A Minnesota native, Zanger has covered a wide range of brands, issues and personalities, including Aloe Blacc, Seu Jorge, Wendy Clark, Susan Credle, Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby and more. Fiercely dedicated to diversity, equality and talent, he has interviewed several women in leadership roles through his Exceptional Women of the World podcast.

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