Squish Stars: Jia Wertz

jia wertz smiling
The past number of months have been a whirlwind. Yet, there are some women entrepreneurs that are continuing to break the mold and shine like the stars they are! We're proud to introduce our Squish Stars campaign, highlighting incredible women entrepreneurs!

We were lucky to talk to Jia Wertz, Documentary Filmmaker, and ask her some questions. 

Tell us about your business? How did you get started?
I'm a documentary filmmaker and director. My debut film, Conviction, was selected at numerous film festivals around the world and released on Amazon last month. After a 20-year career in the fashion industry I decided to follow another passion and go into filmmaking. My goal is to shed light on wrongful conviction and the shortcomings of the criminal justice system through my films. Only a short year after switching careers, my first film debuted on Amazon Prime and is nominated for three awards.

What measures have you been forced to take since COVID started? What is the biggest pivot you had to make with your business? 
Jia: I had to halt all production/shoots due to COVID, which has delayed the completion and release of my second film. Also, Conviction was scheduled to premiere at the Anthology Film Archives in New York and just two weeks before the premiere, all the theaters had to shut down due to COVID, so we had to cancel our premiere.

What have you learned from this experience thus far? Both on a professional and personal level. 
Jia: It's critical to adapt, in any situation. With COVID halting production, I was able to focus on editing the footage we had already shot, which was about 80% of the film, so I had a lot to work with. And with all the extra time at home during quarantine, I was able to get a lot of the editing complete – something that would've taken a lot longer had I been going about my day-to-day life. There is a positive side to most situations, it's important to see those positives and not let disruptions get the best of you.

Have any businesses or individuals helped to inspire you through this time? What do you admire most about them? 
Jia:  Doctors, nurses, and all essential workers have been the most inspiring during these tough times we are all in. I can't even imagine the bravery it takes to go into work everyday not knowing if you'll contract an extremely contagious, dangerous virus. These people are the most inspiring, I've never seen anything like it in my lifetime.

What are the biggest issues for running your company right now? What areas do you need help with? 
Jia: My biggest issue and main goal right now is to get the word out there about the film and get as many people to watch it as possible. Since all the theatrical screenings were cancelled, the film was released on Amazon Prime – so it's up to me to drive traffic to the film without the marketing/events that would have taken place during normal times. It's challenging, but we will get there slowly.

What's been your biggest win since starting your company? 
Jia:  My film got into 10 film festivals worldwide, and this month it's nominated for three awards at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival: Best Cinematography, Best Picture, and Best Documentary Film!

Are there any special or new self-care practices that have helped you stay grounded? 
Jia: I've been very careful with my time, and only spend time with people who are positive, authentic, and show mutual respect. I think that is very important for self-care.

Favorite show you've been watching/book you're reading/podcast you're listening to? 
Jia Favorite Book: The Sixteenth Round by Rubin Carter, Favorite Show: I can watch Friends re-runs anytime.

If you could be any of our marshmallow flavors, which one would you be? 
Jia:  Chocolate Dipped.

To learn more about Jia and her business:
Twitter: @JiaWertz
Instagram: @jiadocs