We had the good fortune of connecting with Zara Burdett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zara, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Even though I always felt closely connected to the arts, I remember trying to suppress my artistic side in favor of a more stable career. Pursuing a creative path is scary and there are a million justifiable reasons not to go for it. What I’ve learned, though, is that it’s not really a choice. If you know, you know, and eventually you just have to take the plunge or it will come to bite you! When I was younger, I spent many years working for notable and highly successful creatives who taught me what it takes to do what they do. But I always felt a sense of yearning, like I had more to give and more to express.
So, one day, my best friend (also a filmmaker) ordered me not to leave the house until I’d written the first draft of a short film. Staring into the abyss of a blank page was terrifying and uncomfortable, but this was the hurdle I needed to overcome before I could gain the confidence to keep going. As I began to write and direct more of my own work, I felt a deep sense of purpose and freedom and I never looked back. This is what continues to drive me; even when the creative path is challenging, frustrating and lonely, the sense of authenticity and inner peace I feel while I’m creating is what gives my life meaning and connection.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an LA-based writer/director born and raised in London, UK with a history degree from NYU. Over the years I’ve worked for groundbreaking artists and directors like Darren Aronofsky, Rachel Weisz, Wes Anderson, Jordan Peele and Harry Bradbeer as an assistant and development executive, but in my late 20’s I began writing and directing my own work. Since then, I have written, directed and produced award-winning short films (MANEATER, HANDS, TAMPOO) and I’m currently writing and developing projects for film and TV with some incredible collaborators. In general, my work is bold, tender, energetic and comedic. I have a range of sensibilities and sometimes I go to uncomfortable places. One of my big ambitions is to portray women as authentically as possible in my work because, hey, we have nothing to hide. I believe that if women can see themselves reflected more honestly in mainstream media, we will be less at war with ourselves, kinder to each other, and happier in our skin. Until my career really takes off, in order to pay the bills I manage to scrape by via assistant jobs, script coverage and other odd things here and there. But I’m not going to lie…it hasn’t been easy!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Triple Beam Highland Park is one of my favorite places to go in LA. Because I am from Europe, it really reminds me of home while also being as LA as it gets. There is something so unpretentious and relaxed about grabbing an affordable but delicious, custom-sized slice of pizza at the counter, and congregating outdoors along large shared tables with plastic cups of wine. Casual but sophisticated; charming and friendly, delicious without breaking the bank – it’s got it all. And the fact that the cinema is a few doors down is a pretty great bonus as well.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to acknowledge my fellow female filmmakers and friends Alice Millar, Danielle Krudy, Gemma Doll-Grossman and Audrey Rosenberg for always encouraging me to keep going in the darkest of times!