"Don’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity. Create one." - Tara Tomicevic
From acting to producing to writing, Tara Tomicevic has proven she can do just about anything. The first script she ever wrote was a quarter finalist in the Final Draft Big Break screenwriting contest (Top 10% of 7,000 feature film scripts). The short film she produced, MUTED, won the HBO/ABFF Short Film competition and is airing on HBO. Currently, she's producing another short film and turning the HBO short, MUTED, into a feature film. But all of this success probably isn't surprising to her middle school classmates, who voted her "The Next Albert Einstein."
No pressure, Tara.
Tell me about yourself.
I was born in Croatia, partly grew up in Italy, and have been in California for 16 years. I went to Berkeley and moved to LA right after.
Did you always know you wanted to be in the entertainment industry?
Yes and no. I remember imitating scenes from Titanic and other films when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I became obsessed with taking acting classes in middle school. But all throughout high school and college, I tried to find other passions that made more “sense” and highly considered an MBA and an entrepreneurial path outside of entertainment. But I always came back to entertainment.
How did you get your start as a producer?
I began producing and writing 3 years ago as a way to create acting work for myself. Brandi Ford and I produced MUTED in an effort to create ourselves roles, but somewhere along the way, I found a better fit in producing and writing (to the surprise of no one but me, apparently).
What was your first big success as a producer?
MUTED, my short film, which is now on HBO.
Tell me about MUTED. What is it about?
It’s about the discrepancy in media attention and law enforcement support for missing minority children compared to their white counterparts. It stars Chandra Wilson as a mother fighting to find her missing daughter (Daniele Watts).
Why did this specific project interest you?
Initially, Brandi came to me with the idea and I began putting pieces together of how we could shoot it very cheaply. She then said, “Well, do you want to produce it? You kind of already are…” Then I really began digging into the story with her, and I was educated on an issue I had never even heard of.
Getting a film made is challenging. How were you able to successfully accomplish that with MUTED?
By saying we were going to do it and stopping at nothing along the way. We Kickstarted the budget, got some more experienced people than us on our team early on (shout out to the phenomenal line producer Tina Pavlides, who’s still advising me on my second project now), researched a ton, got our friends involved, and stayed incredibly focused.
How did HBO get on board?
We won the 2014 HBO Short Film Competition at the American Black Film Festival. As a result, HBO licensed our film along with the other 4 shorts in competition.
What is next for MUTED? Is there more in the works?
Yes! Brandi just finished the feature length script and the next step will be to shop it around town to production companies. We’ve had contact with a couple of them and we are aiming to shoot in Houston, TX in May 2016 during our lead, Chandra Wilson’s, hiatus from GREY’S ANATOMY.
What's the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career so far?
The feeling of being powerless as an actor — the “waiting for permission” of it drove me insane. It’s not who I am and I knew very, very early into being in LA that I was going to have to either pursue acting differently than the “traditional way” or I was going to have to find another path.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
Yes! I am producing the short CUDDLE PARTY. Our EP is Jill Soloway (creator of TRANSPARENT), and it stars Yvette Nicole Brown, Michaela Watkins and Rob Huebel. We are shooting next month! Additionally, I am re-writing a feature and writing a TV pilot. And of course, developing the feature of MUTED.
You're also a writer. Is that much different than producing?
Much. Yes. Much. Producing is akin to being a CEO/manager at a company - you’re constantly managing people and every single aspect of a film - budget, equipment, locations, insurance, casting, crew hiring, scheduling, etc… Although they both result in the creation of something, writing is much more artistically creative and independent.
What is your creative process when you write?
Honestly, I’m still working to find a process I can return to with every project. It’s been different every time. I’m learning to spend more time pre-writing (which I don’t love) instead of jumping in and discovering as I go along. At this point it’s a push and pull between what I feel I should do (plan, outline) and what I want to do (just type away!)
What is your favorite genre to write?
I’m drawn to human stories about real people, so definitely dramas or dramedies about relationships.
The entertainment industry is dominated my men. Have you had any issues being a young woman in it?
No (not yet?). On MUTED we hired mostly women in positions of power. All the gender disparity stats are startling and I’ve heard countless stories of gender-based discrimination, but I’ve been lucky enough to not have had experienced any first hand.
Name one female that has inspired you.
Growing up it was Sandra Bullock, for both her personability/comedy and her entrepreneurial, producing success. Lately, it’s Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham, the Rhimes/Beers power duo, Issa Rae…“take charge” women :)
What advice would you give girls today?
Don’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity. Create one.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to balance writing and producing and achieve longevity, but more short term, I want to get staffed on a TV show.