We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren McGarrett and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lauren, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
It’s very common in creative industries to hear that you’ll have to do a lot of jobs for free in order to “make it.” I strongly disagree with this and the culture of exploiting new artists for free labor. While it can be difficult to avoid entry level jobs that tout “experience” as their only form of compensation, it’s important that creatives understand the worth of what they contribute to their team. If you’re not receiving monetary compensation for your work, you should examine what you’ll be gaining in exchange for your time. One of my first jobs on set was for a micro-budget film that did not have the money to pay a lot of the crew members, so everyone involved viewed it as a passion project. While I didn’t receive money for what I did on set, I had a camaraderie with the rest of the team that meant they would help me with my future projects for free as well. My team has also done short videos for local artists in exchange for licensing their music for our projects, as well as edited projects for fellow filmmakers earlier in our careers. You should always ensure that you as an artist will receive something of value in return for your time that will help you along your goals. Oftentimes, a young artist will do a job for free, only for the employer to give a paid opportunity to someone else down the line. If you’re just starting out and the only thing a job can offer you is “experience,” all while exhausting your own creative energy, I would advise you to continue looking for other opportunities or to create your own passion projects for experience.

Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Many of my films start with the basis of my own personal experiences. “Sugar, Spice & Sacrifice” is a visual poem that focuses on the issues surrounding xenophobia and discrimination immigrants face in the U.S., inspired by my own family and friends. “Holly Blue” is a short film inspired by an experience during my time in college when my mother was hospitalized for a mini-stroke. The path for creative careers is hardly ever a straight line, so adversity is something every artist deals with in one way or another. It helps to have a supportive network around you that can help you stay on track and always inspire you to improve your work. As a child, I was always filming little movies with my family’s camcorder. As a teen, I used to edit short videos for fun. When it came time to choose a career path in college, I had a hard time deciding. I enjoyed creative things, but in high school I was always working toward a STEM career. It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate that I realized film production was what I really wanted to do and made the decision to actually pursue it as a career. We live in a time where almost everyone is walking around with an HD camera in their pocket, so I’ve learned that the best way to get started is to just film the projects that you’d want to see. It doesn’t matter if it’s not great in the beginning, it’s something you’ll improve with practice.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite places to visit is Yellow-Green Farmers Market in Hollywood. It’s filled with so many different vendors, from clothing boutiques to outdoor decor, to pet products and skincare cosmetics. The best part of all is the food. There are food booths representing every corner of the world, from Ethiopia to Thailand to Cuba. It’s so much fun to walk around and visit all the booths from local small businesses. Las Olas and Downtown Hollywood/Young Circle are also great places for tourists to visit.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to shout out my supportive husband Ricky, who is also my partner in filmmaking. He’s the producer to my director and the sound tech to my cinematography. No matter the project, he’s always ready to be my teammate. My siblings also continue to be a big help as crew members on many of our productions. Video production and filmmaking are very collaborative, so I appreciate everyone who has worked as crew or talent in our projects. Working with Able 2 Film Entertainment early on connected me to other talented local filmmakers, like Aaron Abelto and Juliet Romeo, who have helped me grow creatively. I’ve also enjoyed working on sets for Paolo Mugnaini and Randell J. Jackman. A great mentorship I was able to participate in was WPBT’s “Film-maker” program, which allowed my short films “Foggy Sky” and “Sugar, Spice & Sacrifice” to receive national distribution through PBS stations.

Website: https://prizeboxproductions.com/

Instagram: @lauren.mcgarrett

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenannmcg/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenAnnMcG

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurenannmcg

Other: https://vimeo.com/laurenmcg

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