Interview: Vimeo Curator, Meghan Oretsky

Meghan Oretsky has a dream job—she’s a curator for Vimeo.

Name ONE filmmaker who doesn’t want a Vimeo Staff Pick laurel in their portfolio. Go ahead.

Meghan Oretsky has a dream job—she’s a curator for Vimeo. That’s right, she gets to watch videos on a day-to-day basis and helps decide which filmmakers deserve that coveted Vimeo Staff Pick feature. 

On top of having one of the coolest jobs pretty much ever, Meghan is using her influence to push for change in the industry as well. She’s the creator of Ladies With Lenses, a channel and community that features amazing female filmmakers on Vimeo and gives them the spotlight they deserve.

(And you know we love our female filmmakers and creatives too!)

We were lucky to have the chance to interview Meghan and we think you’ll be really interested in what she has to say about Vimeo, Ladies with Lenses, and becoming a Curator. Check out our interview below!

Give us the lowdown of what led you into the world of video/filmmaking! Are you a filmmaker yourself?

M: I followed an unconventional path to my role as curator. I had no experience making or curating films, but once I found out that this job existed, I did everything I could to get Vimeo’s attention so they would consider my application for the community team. I made a video cover letter they didn’t ask for, complete with little graphics I’d drawn and stop-motion pancake letters that said “Thank you, Vimeo!” I didn’t get the job the first time I applied, so I spent the next year watching hundreds of shorts and commenting on them so the employees saw my face and name. Eventually I was hired as an apprentice for the community team, and continued to watch shorts and create personal video mixtapes (aka showcases and channels) until I was hired to the curation team 2 years later.

We love that story… Talk about never giving up on your dreams! We love what you’re doing at Vimeo and we especially love Ladies With Lenses! (Ada follows you on Instagram)
We have our own initiative called ‘Peggy’ for our network of female/female-identifying creatives. What inspired you to create LWL and what challenges/successes have you faced in developing it?
Illustrated Portrait by Tom C J Brown
Illustrated Portrait by Tom C J Brown

M: Thank you! Peggy is so awesome as well. I created Ladies with Lenses in 2014 because women were (and are) woefully underrepresented in the film industry. I was a member of the Vimeo community team at the time and already spending a significant chunk of my day watching videos, so I decided to create a corner dedicated specifically to exceptional shorts that were written and/or directed female filmmakers. I want to note that I am not the only curator who contributes to LWL these days. The channel is home to Staff Picks made by female filmmakers, hand picked by myself and my team consisting of Ian Durkin, Jeffrey Bowers and Ina Pira. 

It was easy to create a channel, but the challenges and successes I’ve faced have to do with the screenings I host (mostly) in NYC. I’ve planned 19 of them since summer 2017, with all but a handful of the filmmakers physically present for a Q&A after their film screens. Just the general logistics of planning are a challenge, but super rewarding. The greatest success is how much the LWL community has and continues to grow! 

Wow! The hustle is real. Growing a community isn’t easy work and we definitely know that for sure. 
We regularly scour Vimeo for new talent for Zooppa’s community and projects (we also have our own channel) and it can be SO taxing–the same way directing, shooting, or producing can be SO taxing. Doing something you love can still wear you out sometimes. How do YOU beat the burn out?

M: I remind myself what it takes to make a film. Whether it’s a passion project or not, the team who created the video on my screen took a significant amount of their personal time, money, or energy to share this piece of art with the world. That’s a really vulnerable endeavor! I also like to go back and browse through my all-time faves that first ignited my love for shorts, like “Holy Cow Lisa” by Bianca Giaever and this music video that Becky & Joe made for Tame Impala.

Speaking of favorites; We’re sure you’ve answered this question a billion times before (but our community is probably dying to know)… What do YOU look for when you bring a video to the rest of your team for a Vimeo Staff Pick?

M: I’m cognizant of how much my attention wanes while watching a film, and whether it resonates with me emotionally. Was the short a welcome escape from the thoughts that swirl through my head all day, or did my mind wander a bunch? Am I excited to share this piece with our audience? Can I imagine who this film would resonate with and why? If a short speaks to my heart or my brain or my soul in some way, I’m sharing it with the team for a potential Pick. 

What’s more important to you as a curator? Creativity or technical skills?

M: You’ll find a healthy amount of Staff Picks that demonstrate high technical prowess,  but you don’t have to be shooting with the most expensive lens or using super complicated animation programs to make something great. Everything from first-year student animation films to experimental pieces shot with an iPhone can and have gotten the badge. I think what is most important is telling your story from an engaging, creative angle. 

Lastly, the most important question of all: What’s your personality type? 🙂 

M: Mediator! INFP-T

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