ZOE STEWART BIO
Zoe Stewart is a multi-faceted filmmaker based in LA but originally from England. She worked at BBC Television for a short while primarily as a segment director before co-founding Shona Productions to produce comedy sketch series Uncut Funk for BBC 2 and sitcom Homie and Away for Channel 4, which she also directed.
She produced the feature film Hush for Warp X and was subsequently nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Best Achievement in Production and named a Star of Tomorrow by Screen International. She is also a Berlinale Talent alum and a British Film Institute Breakthrough Brit honoree.
After taking time off to raise a family, Zoe was recently hired as the additional director on Harlan Coben’s 10-part series The Five for Netflix. She also served as shadowing director on Pearson for USA and just wrote and directed short dramedy Family Time.
Zoe graduated from University of the Arts London with a BA (Hons) in Film and Television.
Family Time is rooted in my personal experience of starting a family but when trying to navigate my way back to work not too long afterwards, finding myself bumping up against unexpected barriers. In view of this, I was really interested in exploring the blurred lines of obstruction and control and abuse and what happens when dreams are blighted.
Tonally, I wanted to create something unassuming and fun that might serve as a red herring to a poignant end. And so stylistically, it needed to be relatively low key yet assured, so the main focus would always be the story. Key to the character’s relationships is the reliance on modern technology for communication, and this introduced a ‘raw home footage’ style as well. The main conductors underpinning this is the new relationship between husband and wife whose growing miscommunication causes a rift, and the devices serve as a tool to imply disconnectedness.
The irony about making this film that I was not conscious of during the making, is how much it also spoke to my professional experience trying to establish myself as a director. The deck has long been stacked against women of color and the few who have managed to sustain a directing career have overcome an astonishing array of obstacles.
Suffice to say early on in my directing career, I quickly learned to write and produce in order to generate my own work because I was acutely aware my career path might look different than my peers. When I hit a glass ceiling, I pivoted into producing by way of remaining in the industry. Whilst this posed as a barrier, it was far from a negative experience and I was still able to finesse my voice as a filmmaker through these experiences.
But I would say due to a conflation of recent global events, I could truly take agency over my directing career again in its entirety and this provided me the environment to make Family Time. I am grateful and excited to share my work and if through the process of examining my own life, if others are able to identify themselves and laugh at their own pain or find their inner strength, that to me is success.