How ‘Not Your Daddy’s Films’ is Redefining the Industry By Championing Women and Non-binary Filmmakers

This post is by Jason Hellerman from No Film School

Not Your Daddy’s Films (NYDF), a social impact organization committed to empowering and educating women and non-binary filmmakers through screenings, panels, a podcast, and more, stands as a beacon of creativity and inclusive community in the film industry.

Founded by five incredible women; Katherine Hughes, Carlye Tamaren, Nicole Lipp, Kourtney Bell, and Vika Stubblebine, NYDF transcends the conventional boundaries of filmmaking to curate an environment that celebrates and elevates underrepresented voices.

With a name that challenges the status quo, this organization has swiftly evolved over time into a powerful network of support, collaboration, and empowerment for a community of filmmakers who are too often sidelined in a patriarchal industry.

NYDF’s ethos is simple yet profound: whether it’s your first film or your hundredth, NYDF paves a way for every voice to be heard, every story to be seen, and every ‘daddy’ to feel at home.

Read on as I delve into the inspiring journey of Not Your Daddy’s Films. Through a candid Q&A with the founders, we unravel the genesis of their mission, the impact of their initiatives, and the stories that weave together the fabric of this diverse filmmaking community.

Editor’s note: the following interview is edited for length and clarity.

No Film School: How did the concept of Not Your Daddy’s Films come about and what was the driving force that brought you all together to co-found this organization?

Not Your Daddy’s Films: If we’re being perfectly honest we didn’t set out to create a company, and maybe that’s why it’s been such a joy to do… and a huge success to boot. Not Your Daddy’s Films was born out of a desire to screen our own work alongside other women and non-binary directors—which is how we found each other.

Our first screening was a hit, but it was just meant to be one night of short films. Next thing we knew, we were inundated with recommendations for the next screening and we realized we not only wanted to keep doing the events, but that there was a craving for them within our community.

We co-founders have different backgrounds, but we’re all directors and multi hyphenates and share a commitment to lifting up our community as we also grow in this industry. We’re adamant about NYDF events being a space for filmmakers to meet in an environment that feels like going to a great house party: not stuffy or elitist, just friends who want you to meet their other awesome friends (and so on and so forth).

Between the 5 of us we’ve been to hundreds of screenings and networking events, and were able to draw on that experience to curate the NYDF vibe. There are a lot of amazing groups out there for filmmakers, but not a lot that say ‘you’re welcome here regardless of if this is your first film or your 100th’. At Not Your Daddy’s Films everyone is on equal footing, if you’re in the DGA or not.

We kick off every event with this simple sentiment, and are happy to say our community has fully embraced it:

“Whatever your gender… I’m a daddy, you’re a daddy, we’re all daddies here! Do us, and yourselves, the honor of introducing yourself to someone new tonight. It’s 100% worth it.”

NFS: Can you discuss the impact that NYDF’s bi-monthly screenings and educational panels have had on the women and non-binary filmmaking community?

NYDF: Our community has grown astronomically in the last year due to word of mouth.

We have kept our growth organic and have noticed by putting our filmmakers and the community first, creatives continue to come back to our events and always bring friends the next time around. Our community has bred genuine friendships and creative collaborators that expand beyond the LA area.

Our favorite is when we get texts when creatives in our community collaborate or run into their fellow “daddies” on set. It immediately puts them at ease knowing they have a support system built into their work day. Our events are always a safe space for creatives to ask the questions they may be too scared to ask and our hope is to encourage women and nonbinary filmmakers to keep making art and finding ways through our community to elevate in their careers.

NFS: What are some success stories of relationships or collaborations that have been formed as a result of NYDF events or initiatives?

NYDF: NYDF is not a film festival, it is a community where filmmakers have the opportunity to ‘try it here first’. Outside of screenings we offer panels and workshops with industry experts so that everyone can learn from their experiences.

The best part is knowing that these filmmakers are becoming collaborators, recommending each other for jobs or seeing each other on the red carpet. For example, co-founders Carlye Tamaren and Nicole Lipp got to celebrate fellow daddies Haley Z. Boston, Jorey Worb, Imani Davis, and Anne Hollister this year at SXSW.

NFS: I know you recently hosted the first NYDF SXSW meet-up for women and non-binary filmmakers! Could you tell us how that experience went and what the event meant to NYDF?

NYDF: Getting to co-host an official event with SXSW for Women and Non-Binary Filmmakers felt like a core memory unlocked. Our community and so many new friends and collaborators SHOWED UP and it was such a special experience. SXSW’s Austin Newart and Audrey Ullman were incredibly supportive and excited to have our company as a part of the festival and we can’t wait to continue our partnership for years to come.

We had about 100 daddies together on day one of the festival and had the best time running into new community members throughout the weekend at screenings, panels, parties and beyond. It was particularly exciting, as word about NYDF spread throughout our time at the festival, to watch filmmakers light up as they learned about us. SXSW was yet another sign that space for our community is both needed and necessary and we can’t wait to be back next year… Maybe with a panel and some of our own films.

Not Your Daddy’s Films

NFS: What have been some of the most rewarding moments for the NYDF team since its inception?

NYDF: The most rewarding part of Not Your Daddy’s Films is watching our community grow so quickly on its own. We all started working on NYDF because we were looking for a community ourselves. Our goal has always been to provide a physical and emotional support system for creatives to feel safe and meet other like-minded people. We have seen first hand how needed that is in our industry, especially amongst women and non-binary creatives. Every time we host one of our events, we leave astonished by the outpouring of love and gratitude we receive from our new daddies.

We didn’t have to force this thing, it happened on its own because the desire for this community is real and it is working, which is dope to see.

NFS: In what ways does NYDF ensure that it is inclusive and representative of all genders, races, and backgrounds within the women and non-binary communities?

NYDF: People tend to go where they can see themselves. This is something we’re constantly keeping at the forefront of all of our efforts.

For example, we know that if the films we screen are all made by or featuring cis, white, women that’s going to be reflected in the audience. Storytelling is informed by our unique lived experiences, and we want all of those reflected at a NYDF event. We know that there is already white privilege in this industry and our goal of leveling the playing field for women and non-binary folks must include the black, brown, disabled and queer communities, or we’re not doing our jobs.

NFS: Given you each have diverse backgrounds, how do you utilize each of your individual strengths to contribute to the culture and ethos of NYDF, and what values do you collectively prioritize in your work?

NYDF: We all have a past connection with at least one of the founders but, for the most part, we all had experience in the industry before we connected. What is wonderful about that is the different networks we bring to the NYDF community and the different avenues we have to expand the community. Whether it be through theater school, film or television on-screen work, directing jobs, dancing gigs, etc. our accessibility to reach new creatives is limitless.

We are all type A in our own way which is wonderful because we are able to focus on the different branches of NYDF that speak to our strengths. As we have all said, the growth of NYDF has been so organic because some of us have been called to share our work on socials, to front run the podcast, to reach out to filmmakers with incredible short films, design the merch and more. We don’t have to force each other to work. We value intentionality within sharing our community and creativity.

Five women working together is nothing short of a super power. Women. Get. Things. Done.

NFS: How does NYDF plan to evolve its current programs, and are there any new initiatives on the horizon that you can share with us?

NYDF: We plan to keep the structure of our bi-monthly screening and panels while expanding to new cities for events, starting our “Big Daddy” mentorship program where we pair emerging filmmakers with experienced industry professionals, and offering quarterly grants for pre and post production for our community member’s projects.

We loved our experience with SXSW and can’t wait to have a presence to support women and non-binary creatives at other festivals moving forward. Beyond that, we can’t wait to be in a position to produce and build a production company for our community, not dissimilar from Lucky Chap, Hoorae, or Hello Sunshine.

NFS: How do you see the landscape for women and non-binary filmmakers changing in the next 5-10 years, and what role do you hope NYDF will play in that evolution?

NYDF: Well, we certainly hope the future of this industry will look more like the inside of an NYDF event. The daddy community is always asking how they can help each other—it’s not just our organization lifting people up.

We hope that we’ll see a trend where it’s normal and not the exception to see women and non-binary creatives helming projects. And that the success of those projects will prove what we’ve always known at NYDF—we’re all deserving of a piece of the pie and there’s room for all of us at the top. We have big goals for NYDF but we hope that being a daddy will remain a badge of honor, and a way to recognize fellow creatives as folks you definitely want to work with.

Follow along with the founding Daddys through their group Instagram @nydfilms and personal instagrams: @thecarlyetamaren (Carlye Tamaren), @vikastubbs (Vika Stubblebine), @kacehughes (Katherine Hughes), @kourtneybellll (Kourtney Bell), and @flowerhitsthebigtime (Nicole Lipp).