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Women Who Inspire

Scilla Andreen | CEO & Co-Founder, Indieflix

October 21, 2014

Not only is Scilla Andreen the CEO and CO-Founder of Indieflix, but she is also the innovator of the Royalty Pool Minutes system, which pays filmmakers for every minute someone watches their film on the site. Showcasing films that normally only get seen at film festivals of all spectrums, Scilla is bringing a new audience to independent films and new films to film lovers. As Indieflix changes and grows with its success and demanding market, Scilla has learned a few things along the way about being a fulltime mother and a fulltime leader.

Bringing the Hollywood Treatment to Independent Films

Indieflix is known as the Netflix for independent films – that is a huge compliment. Is that what you set out to create, or has this expanded into something bigger?
We set out to create a marketplace where 99% of the filmmakers (less than 1% of filmmakers find Hollywood distribution) could sell their films, and thanks to technology, we ended up with an entire ecosystem that is helping to evolve the film industry. It’s huge and super fun!

The film industry, just like the music industry, has had its ups and downs, due largely to illegal downloading and such. What has dealing with this matter and others like it taught you as a leader, team member and business owner? You can spend your time and resources trying to fix something that has been broken for a long time or you can put your energy into creating a new model where that threat or broken piece doesn’t have nearly the negative impact anymore. I look at those aspects of the film and music industry as indications of how people like to consume. Those actions are the highest form of communication. It’s like looking into a crystal ball.  

Who in your life has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I have a lot of people but I’d like to mention a few. I’m half Chinese and I was very close to my grandmother, the matriarch, Ann Wong. She told me that everything I need, I already have. Those words have served me well, every day. I also have to mention Seth Godin who writes book after book and the world’s most-read blog. He’s one of the most inspirational people on the planet for me. He inspires me to lead on a daily basis, as do my two children, Ian and Natalie, who refer to IndieFlix as the third, “special needs” child in our family.

What was the most defining moment in your career to date?

Standing on a stage at the Cannes Film Festival as the first woman and the first American to participate in one of the largest European panels in film.  And most recently, to see IndieFlix featured downtown in a Nordstrom window display on 5th & Pine in Seattle for a film I produced called The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things. I drove down there at night with my daughter and it was more exciting than being on a marquee.

What has been your biggest career challenge?

Being a filmmaker and a woman in the male dominated world of distribution. It took a long time before anyone would take me seriously.  

People often wonder about the differences between how men and women lead. Is there a difference?

People, regardless of gender, have their own style of leadership. However, I do think society, the press, stakeholders, and employees, including myself, tend to analyze leaders from many angles, and gender sometimes pops up in that regard.

Have you experienced any preconceived notions from people in the workforce due to you being a woman? If so, how did you overcome such matters and learn from it?

"They then asked who watches my kids when I travel. I chuckled."

Yes, it was quite funny. I presented my business model in L.A. to a very well-known corporation and the men at the boardroom table leaned in and asked me who had helped me with my business model? I told them it was pretty much just me. They pressed harder to know who created the concept. When I repeated again, and one more time after, that it was just plain, little old me; their response was, “well kudos to you! That’s pretty amazing.” They then asked who watches my kids when I travel. I chuckled. I am sure they don’t get asked that question much.

Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, said; “Only female business leaders get asked if they have nannies. Men aren’t asked: How do you that? How do you do this? How do you balance both a career and family?” How accurate is this statement?

It’s spot on, and I guess we should take it as a compliment. We as women are doing it all and thriving. There are certain stereotypes we must all get over, and only time and more women in leadership roles will accelerate that.

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