Sophia Banks On Navigating a Male-Driven Film Industry as a Female Film-Maker


When you think of the Film Industry, you typically think of famous directors such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino.

While those are some talented directors and titans in the industry, Sophia Banks felt that the statistics showed the need for more female talents as she commented that “Only 7% of the world's directors and film-makers are female. I wanted to change that".

That is exactly what Banks sought out to do and what she hopes will inspire other women in her field to do the same.

She spent 15 years in fashion before turning to the film industry, founding the legendary store Satine and winning multiple awards including Vogue Australia's Top Fashion Expert and Harper Bazaar's Fashion Leader many years in a row. She then launched her fashion line Whitley Kros worn by many celebrities and touted by Forbes as one of the Top Ten Designers on The Rise. However, while Banks experienced a whirlwind of success in working with A-List celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra, Kylie, and Kendell Jenner, Amber Heard, she knew that her hard work and determination would ultimately allow her to create a platform for her true passion- filmmaking.

“Breaking into the industry that I was passionate about, took starting from the bottom, and there's absolutely no shame in that. At the end of the day, especially as a female fighting for a sliver of the spotlight, you should get your hands into every opportunity that does come your way. They are all experiences you can learn from."

And learning is a primary focus that Banks stressed in order to achieve success. The Australian native studied film, acting, fashion and business in three countries including acclaimed institutions like; USC's school of cinematic arts and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

With that being said, Banks offers insight to what comes after all of the studying, the most important step, applying those skills to translate that work into a stunning visual piece that invokes a specific message catering to each client's needs. “It's one thing to study and to understand what someone else is telling you, what to do, or how to do it. It's entirely another thing to develop your own unique style and give your project life. That is how we can leave our mark as female filmmakers in today's industry."

Banks pulled inspiration from her own experiences in order to develop that personal style. Her passion for edgy design and forward thinking to break the mold of what we conventionally see in a film shoot, commercial or short is what makes her stand out, as seen in her award-winning film she created with fashion icon Christian Siriano titled Making it on Time.

In this fashion editorial style commercial, Banks creates another view for a woman on the go. It starts out with fashionable women in rush-hour traffic wearing ornate couture gowns. Who then borrow skateboards from unwitting onlookers to get to their event on time (for more on this video visit: www.sophiabanks.com for this film and other inspiring works).

This short was nominated for over 15 awards and won Film Fest Miami. The film was nominated for Best Short, Best Fashion Film, and Best Director at film festivals around the world including; Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival, Moët & Chandon Tribeca Film Festival, Berlin and Milan Fashion Film Festivals, Los Angeles Film Awards and many more.

She brings a raw and exciting element that is unexpected and creates something beautiful and thought-provoking. “It really came down to breaking the mold for me. I feel like there is more focus on empowering women and breaking through stereotypes - but in the fashion world that is still very much a new concept." One that Banks continues to work towards. “Every project that I work on is personal to me. It has to be. That passion is what is the difference in a sort of 'run-of-the-mill' piece of work and a piece of art."

But how did she get to that point? Banks explains further: “after studying and developing your skills as someone newly starting out in this industry, it is important to take on as many projects that you can in order to really hone in on your passions. Most of the time, we might not know which direction we clearly want to go in until we try". I was also able to sit on sets and have the experience of watching directors. I got to sit behind Wim Wenders for a week, which was amazing, plus all the experience I got from just being on set.

Gigs for top brands like Chobani, BMW, Pure Leaf Teahouse, Dell, Cheeky for Target, Doritos, and Ford soon followed as well as work with fashion brands; Pam & Gela, Ralph and Russo, Anine Bing, RSEA, Valentino, and Gen Luxe magazine. Banks has also distinguished herself in the world of music videos with a fast-paced electronic romp for the Aussie band Strange Talk Music, with projects taking her all over the world.

This brings Banks to her latest project, starring Trevor Jackson (Grownish, Superfly), Dylan Penn (Condemned), Dp Paul Cameron (Westworld, Man on Fire), VFX Producer Ivy Agregan (Revenant, Birdman), Producer Peter Winther (Independence Day, Patriot), and Original Score by Liam O'Neil from Kings of Leon.

This sci-fi short titled Unregistered has a unique cast and script all in of itself, but what makes it even more compelling is how Banks, her team, along with PRG North America has accomplished to bring this film to life, as Banks says; “the viewers are going to see what it's like to live in a virtual reality world". And she is putting it mildly. What has been accomplished, in essence, is an entirely new way of visual arts in real time and without the use of greenscreens or after effects by way of superimposing images in post-production. The film is set to launch by the end of this year, and it is absolutely one to look out for.

Sophia Banks is now the CEO of Banks Films and is now in development of their first feature. She hopes to see many more women who have been on the sideline join her in the movement to even out the balance in this male-dominated industry. The quote she lives by is: “The Future is Female" and with all that we have learned, we think that the future is closer than we know.

3 Min Read

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?