Filmmaker Feature: Sarah Steele

Who are you? (where are you from, where do you live, why did you get into film, whatever you want to tell us really).

I’m French American and grew up in Switzerland. Today I live in South Lake Tahoe with my husband and son – we are avid rock climbers, with a penchant for big adventures off the beaten path. Professionally, I have focused most of my career at the intersection of tech, storytelling and impact. In 2020, I co-founded well-traveled Collective, and a woman-owned and operated production company – we’ve made a number of award-winning shorts (This Is Beth, The Pass, Jamie)

• How many times have you attended?

I’ve attended 2 years

• How many films have you had in the festival?


• When was your first Wild & Scenic?

It was in 2023 and I was screening two films – I came with my husband and our (at the time) 6 week old baby.

• What makes Wild & Scenic Film Festival special or unique?

I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite film festivals. I always walk away, feeling inspired and motivated by the selection of stories that I’ve watched and the people I have met. In this day and age. It can be difficult to sustain hope when we feel that there are so many fires burning. But I have found that the stories shown at wild and scenic are always powerful examples of positive change in the world, of the importance of local activism – and they reignite my faith in humanity.

• What inspires you to make films? What are your favorite stories to tell?

I’m inspired by the web of connections – how we can, through education, inspiration and exposure – be our best selves. Films are a reflection of the myriads of feelings we all share and the complex paths we can walk in our lifetime that set us apart , but also unite us. I personally love telling the complex stories, the ones that require us to question our interpretation of the world, and check our own biases.

• What are your biggest challenges in making films?

I think a very honest answer to this question would be finding funding. Unfortunately, film and the arts can often be the first impacted in economic downturns. I also find that there is a general trend to want to be entertained, and not necessarily ask the hard questions. While I understand why this is the case, I think it is important to keep questioning, and keep supporting documentaries that do this. This also brings me back to the importance of film festivals like wild and scenic, we need to see examples of local success, with everything that is happening in the world, we cannot tackle all issues, we cannot boil the ocean, so it is important to drive change in the spheres that we do have control in.

• Do you have any projects you are currently working on?

Absolutely! I am currently working on a documentary about Jeanne Carver, who has been the driving force behind regenerative ranching and reintroducing wool as a sustainable fiber for the clothing industry. I am very passionate about her work.

• Filmmaking is a laborious job, so what keeps you motivated?

Every project is different, and with it come a set of unique challenges. I enjoy the process that comes with each film!

• What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?

I just finished a book called Wild Souls by Emma Harris, which discussed the different wildlife conservation, philosophies and questioned some of the generally accepted practices today. It was an excellent read.

• What is on the horizon for you in 2024 and beyond?

I recently came to the realization that while I am very much passionate about sustainability, I am even more passionate about biodiversity and wildlife conservation efforts that I am currently thinking about ways in which tech and film (and my skill set) can support this area.

• How can people learn more and keep updated on what you are up to moving forward?

Check out our Website or find me on Instagram