Exeleon Magazine

Rebekah Louisa Smith – The Film Festival Doctor

Rebekah Louisa Smith_Exeleon Magazine

For Rebekah Louisa Smith confronting herself about her passion for academia led her to a life-changing realization.

She realized that she didn’t really have the emotional connection with the field. Neither did she felt excited about it anymore. “I knew I did not want to do it for the rest of my life,” she recalls.

This was the moment that facilitated the journey of Rebekah Louisa Smith – an inspiring entrepreneur, award-winning film festival strategist, producer, published author, speaker, and more.

Rebekah is the Founder of The Film Festival Doctor, a company that helps filmmakers get their work seen by audiences around the world.

An Influential Women in all regards, read this exclusive interview of Rebekah Louisa Smith where she discusses her journey, her book, and much more.

What according to you makes one a powerful woman? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

A powerful woman integrates diplomacy and kindness into their leadership while asking for help when needed. Admitting you need help as a leader does not mean that you’ve failed; instead, it opens the door to new solutions and possibilities that help you grow as a person and as a CEO. As soon as I asked for help and showed my vulnerability, I didn’t feel like I was stuck anymore. I felt strong.

Diplomacy also makes a powerful woman shine. I work with creative types who can become emotionally attached to their film and have difficulty taking criticism. Instead of responding with anger to their challenges, I respond with patience. I explain to these clients how prioritizing a growth mindset can help their filmmaking and offer them constructive criticism. I gently encourage them to view the feedback as a gift to gain new skills which can help them become more successful in their careers.

What is your earliest memory as a leader/entrepreneur that you remember? –

I will never forget April 17th, 2011; I submitted my Ph.D. thesis at 9 am and had the plan to build my business and live the life I created for myself in England.

Building my business was quite a difficult time in my life. I was lonely as I was trying to build up a business from scratch with no previous business experience and create something very niche and new. However, after eight months of building up my social media presence and attending networking events, people in my industry began to notice me and trust my brand. At this point, a community that wanted to help me grow my business and work with me formed, and I felt supported.

What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the film and media space? –

This is what I call the ‘Ah–Ha’ moment! While I was writing my Ph.D., I could tell I was not waking up every morning excited to work on it and only somewhat enjoyed writing it. I then got asked to co-produce a Film Festival; I realized I was in my element and felt much more alive and inspired.

Suddenly, this made me question whether academia was my passion. After consideration, I realized that, deep down, I did not love the world of academia; I had no emotional connection to it, nor did it excite me. I knew I did not want to do it for the rest of my life. I’m grateful for the Ph.D. process, it strengthened my project management skills, and I would never have known how to create award-winning film festival strategies for my clients if I hadn’t first started down the path of academia.

What was the idea that led you to start The Film Festival Doctor? What was your vision through this platform?

I caught the film festival bug while co-producing the 2009 Abertoir Horror Festival in Aberystwyth, Wales, where I was living and studying for my Ph.D. As mentioned, I realized my career ambitions were not in the world of academia but within the film industry, and my specialist niche area was film festivals.

The skills I learned and developed while writing my Ph.D. helped me identify a gap within the film industry. A common problem for filmmakers was that they needed help getting their films seen at festivals; they didn’t know how to do it, how to create a festival strategy, or whom to turn to for help resolving the problem.

At that time, USA-based Film Festival Secrets was the only company actively providing a film festival strategy service and had an internet presence. I knew I could also help my target market resolve this pain. While working behind-the-scenes co-producing a film festival, I traveled around Europe and met with festival programmers to learn how they curated their festivals. I discovered which type of films film festival programmers wanted to screen. There was a global market of filmmakers who needed help, and I needed to turn my knowledge into a thriving business, so I learned what a festival strategy looked like and how to create one.

Talk to us about your book – Born to Do It – and how it can help emerging entrepreneurs take the leap of faith.

Unexpectedly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I became very inspired to write. An Indian publishing company was compiling a book called “Unique: Positive Stories to Inspire You,” they approached me and wanted to include my story. When the Unique book went live and was available to buy internationally, a publishing company called Butterfly House approached me about writing my own book to inspire others. After having a long hard think, I knew that writing a book was exactly what I wanted to do. I was thrilled that people had engaged with my story and resonated with it. I received feedback from business owners who now felt motivated to keep going and no longer feel alone.

I was not interested in writing a dry “how to start your first business” book that was very formulaic and had been done to death a million times. Instead, I wanted to write a book that showed people how to launch their first business using essential business practices that draw upon spiritual techniques which would help them discover their soul purpose and teach them how to co-create with the Universe. My book is designed to help others pondering the leap into entrepreneurship or are already on the journey but yearning for more success and profitability.

What does a day in the life of Rebekah Louisa Smith look like? How do you ensure work-life balance?

I am at my most creative and feel most inspired in the mornings. I get up at 6:30 am, do five minutes of meditation and stretching, put the kettle on, and make my hot water and lemon. Then I respond to all my emails, text messages, Facebook, and What’s App messages. There tends to be a lot upon waking as I am six hours behind the UK. I have a large client base in the UK, and several of my staff are based there too.

After breakfast, at around 8 am, I dig into more creative stuff, which includes creating festival strategies & Zoom meetings. Around 11 am, I’ll be able to get up and get showered. After that, I get back to more emails until lunch, then back at it until I begin to wind down for the day. I always take an hour off for a long walk to detox from my iPhone.

The evenings will be staying in and relaxing, or if I am going out, it will be seeing friends or attending the opening of a film festival. The good thing about the time differences between the UK and USA is that after 5 pm in Dallas, the East coast is winding down, and over in the UK, they are asleep, which gives me a nice bit of space to find that balance as it is very peaceful to catch up on some me time.

Looking back at your journey, what would you have done differently when starting out?

Looking back, I would have hired a business coach in the beginning. I wish someone had told me to work with a coach before I launched my business, as it would have saved a lot of migraines and loneliness!

When I began working with my business coach Gerlanda, she immediately identified what was missing from my company: an infrastructure. She helped me to create a sales forecast, pipeline, and monthly key performance indicators. I thought I was doing well when closing deals, but as it turned out, I needed to refine my sales pitch to work with more clients. And it’s thanks to her expertise that I now have this knowledge.

Finally, what would be your advice for women entrepreneurs and leaders in today’s business environment?

My advice to women entrepreneurs and leaders is to ignore the imposter syndrome and adopt a perpetual positive mindset.

Keeping a positive mental attitude is very important; by adopting this mindset, you can let your enthusiasm, self-belief, and passion for your business, clients, and industry shine through. Having the right mental state will help you figure out how to position yourself, as it is critical to present yourself as an expert in your field, even when you are starting out. Always remember that you know you have the knowledge and skills and are good at what you do.

Read Digital Version of the Magazine.

Visit The Film Festival Doctor Website

Contact Rebekah Louisa Smith on LinkedIn.

Nikki Gal Exeleon Magazine Women

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