GALO: There is this quote in your series that’s making a commentary on the role of the woman in the ’50s: “Your job is to make home, an American home.” What would you say are the characteristics of an American family today?

TS: There are so many different ways for families to exist today, but the one thing that does not change, and I end my Motherhood Remixed episode with, is the following: everyone wants to be happy and children want to be loved. I see so many couples not making time for each other and they are fighting. I value date nights, as this is the pyramid: a happy couple, happy parents and a happy child. You have to do it in that order.

GALO: At the UC Berkeley’s 2010 commencement, you referred to your father saying: “If you are not living on the edge, you are taking too much space.” In what ways, if any, do you apply this principle in your life and filmmaking?

TS: I’m always interested in thinking of something that hasn’t been done. I just saw this great documentary, The Storm Riders, about these surfers who live for storms all over the world. And they want to ride that wave that no one has ridden. It’s a great metaphor: looking for the wave that no one has ridden.

GALO: In the first episode of The Future Starts Here, you play with the concept of unplugging as a further exploration of the article “The Off Switch,” which you wrote for the Harvard Business Review. What exactly is “Technology Shabbat,” and what made you make this episode?

TS: I had a line in the Harvard piece that time slows down and that’s literary what happens. Getting that has been life changing. My rituals at home are really important to me. I came from a divorced home, which was very bad and traumatic, so it is very important to me that there is a stable, consistent ritual in my house. I love [my] home and nesting, cooking and crafting — that plays a big part in who I am and in creating a safe place [to live in]. I just read this quote by Gustave Flaubert,“Be orderly in your life so you can be radical in your work.”

GALO: In The Creative Process in 10 Acts, you state that it is very important to know when you are done with a project. How do you know when you are done with your work?

TS: There was a quote that I almost used that I love from Picasso, which is: “Painting is never done, I just stop working on it.” Which is interesting, but when I watched my film Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology, there was nothing in that movie that I would change. There is a certain moment where everything comes together and you just know that it has all the ingredients. Films usually have deadlines and that gives you that extra push. But you really have to listen to yourself.

GALO: You have won over 48 awards and distinctions, including audience and grand jury prizes, and a 2012 Disruptive Innovation Award from The Tribeca Film Festival. What would you say is disruptive and innovative about your work?

TS: I never follow rules. I remember they did not allow people to wear hats in my middle school and I always wore hats, and when I became the school president I got to change that rule.

GALO: Did people try to break you in life? In other words, were there any people who blatantly said that what you were doing would cease to exist or wasn’t worth the effort?

TS: Oh yeah. I remember when I was starting with the Webby Awards and how many people told me, “Oh, the Web, that’s the trend that’s going to go away.” I remember when I wanted to make a movie about an exploration of American-Jewish identity through the history of the Barbie doll, and this one very famous Hollywood producer told me, “You can’t do it in 18 minutes.” But I did. It always comes down to this mindset — of course, I can do it. Who is it for anyone to say you can’t? Everybody is creating the world they want to create, so you got to go for your dreams and just do it.

GALO: By your own confession, fitting into corporate structure was never something for you. How did you go about finding your place in the world as a filmmaker? Have you ever been afraid that it’s not going to work out for you?

TS: No. That’s again this mindset. I do believe that if you are passionate and work hard and you are grateful, things will work out. I’ve seen people in my life missing one of those three. I know people who are passionate and work hard but they are not grateful — people who forget to thank those who helped them get to where they are. [Those] who fail to acknowledge this, they’re missing something. Being grateful is so important.

GALO: You are a highly self-aware individual and you put a lot of importance on mindfulness. Do you meditate?

TS: It is my goal for this year to start to meditate. I do yoga. I unplug every Saturday and I am a journal writer. That’s very mindful to me, as I am reflecting while re-reading my journals. I like the idea of gratitude, and I’m regularly writing down what I am grateful for and that makes me happy. I list out all the people in my life that I love or things I am truly grateful for. That is [the type of] mindfulness practice I conduct on a daily basis. And I’m enjoying telling people what I appreciate about them and the moments we share. I am very on-spot about that.

GALO: You have been invited to advise former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the US State Department has selected your films to represent America at embassies around the world. What’s so American about your filmmaking?

TS: What I do is cultural diplomacy. I want to make a change in the world, but I would never run for a political office. No. I like doing it through culture and film; it is much better that way for me. When they first selected me, they told me, “you represent America because of your voice.” I think being authentic and having your own voice is utterly American. I’m proud of being American.

For more videos in the season, please visit AOL’s series “The Future Starts Here.”

Featured image: Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain in episode six of her “The Future Starts Here” series, available for viewing on AOL. Photo Courtesy of: AOL.

Cincopa WordPress plugin