Scilla Andreen spent years working on popular TV shows like The Wonder Years, Dawson’s Creek and Smallville. But she also maintained a passion for indie docs throughout her TV career, taking the opportunity to work on them whenever she could. After the devastating loss of a close friend to suicide Andreen decided to pivot her career to work on films that had meaningful messages and delivered social impact. Today the Seattle, Washington- entrepreneur runs her online streaming service IndieFlix, which streams thousands of movies, documentaries and shorts that, “inspires positive action, personal revelation and social change for all ages.”
Andreen’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
It surprises people to hear I am not a super fan of indie films like people think. Don’t get me wrong I love some indies but mostly I am a TV girl. I grew up on TV. What I do love is well crafted, engaging stories. I don’t care who is in them I just never ever want to be bored. I was blessed to work on amazing TV shows like The Wonder Years, Party Of Five, Dawson’s Creek, Smallville and more. During my hiatus I would produce and direct short films and eventually feature films. I traveled the festival circuit and met talented filmmaker‘s with movies no one could watch. I knew that Hollywood had only so much bandwidth to pick up films from the festivals. So, I naïvely started IndieFlix thinking it would be as simple as hanging a shingle and an “OPEN” sign in the window of the Internet.
My definition of success is feeling joy for what you do. I wake up excited to start my day and when I open my laptop its like an advent calendar experience. I get to see all the gifts of the day.
I can’t say there is one biggest success that I have had, it is really a culmination of many successes. Some of my proudest moments ( of which there are many) include; landing The Wonder Years and getting an Emmy Nomination for Best Costume Design. I didn’t even know what an Emmy was! I also absolutely loved having our film The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things, a documentary on gender equality featured in the flagship Nordstrom store window on Pine Street in downtown Seattle for a whole week after a sold out screening of 2300 at McCaw Hall. That was more exciting to me than any of my movies on a theater marquee. Lastly, the work we do with the thousands of schools around the world and the emails, testimonials and calls we get from people of all ages who share how our films have inspired them to be strong, to stand up for themselves or others and in some instances have even helped to save lives.
M top challenge used to be raising money. Now my attitude is different. I’m not afraid. My biggest challenge is actually quite small, it’s remembering to meditate in the afternoon. I’m always too busy and don’t make the effort or forget and yet when I do its absolutely game changing and I mean big time game changing as in good!
I have a handful of role models ranging from my Chinese grandmother, to my mother, to Audrey Hepburn. But for this article I’m really feeling my friend Shep Gordon, who is one of my most important professional and personal role models because he reminds people that they matter. He genuinely cares about people and somehow in his tremendously busy and successful life as a renaissance entrepreneur he manages to make time for others. He’s seriously life inspiring.
A friend of mine asked me to make a movie about mental health and I said no. I felt that should be made by a mental health professional. It was a difficult personal experience for me. The topic felt heavy and depressing and I didn’t think anyone would want to watch it. A year later on an early winter morning, I got a call and learned that my friend had died by suicide. I decided right then and there to make a movie about mental health. It was the only way I knew how to channel my grief. That movie is Angst and it has changed the course of my professional life. The film has gone on to screen more than 6000 times in 69 countries. It is subtitled into seven languages and dubbed into Spanish. I didn’t want to make that movie but because of her passing, I had to and it has forever changed me. I’ve since made 2 more mental health based films – LIKE and The Upstanders.
On the horizon, our latest project, The Upstanders, is a documentary about resilience and the power of connection to end bullying. It came out in April and is the third in a Trilogy of films that address mental wellness. We are also launching Nevertheless, a documentary that takes a look behind the headlines of #MeToo and Time’s Up. The doc follows the intimate stories of seven individuals who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or school context. From a writer’s assistant on a top TV show to a Tech CEO and 911 dispatcher, the film shines a light on the ways in which we can shift our culture and rebuild. Other projects in the queue address addiction, money, learning, climate change, gaming, body image and more. We also acquire content and create curated collections to license to our database of over 25K communities in the world. My vision for the future of our streaming platform is to grow the library, bundle content and deliver directly to the verticals and audience segments in our growing database of 25K communities around the world. Without sharing too much about what we are building, since I am still designing it to launch later this year (post presidential election) we basically want to use film to enhance the human condition.