We’re proud to report that Berlin-based director and Free The Bid Germany ambassador Elisha Smith-Leverock has joined the roster of production company Lief!

In February of this year, Elisha spoke with us about her work and her hopes for our expansion in Germany, after officially stepping into the role as a global ambassador. Since then, she has been working tirelessly to share the Free The Bid mission, helping us acquire agency pledges from BBDO Germany, Havas, and Serviceplan, and highlighted the importance of Free The Bid at BBDO’s Chief Production Officer Steffen Gentis’s Regielounge showcase series. Her short documentary ‘Miss Black Germany’, which challenges beauty standards by focusing on the female contestants of a black beauty pageant is due to premiere next month at A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF).

We caught up with Elisha to hear her take on why Lief is such a good fit for her, the developments of her career since becoming a Free The Bid ambassador, and how inclusive set environments fuel her creativity.



Congrats on signing with Lief! We’re so proud to watch your career progress. What originally appealed to you about working with Lief, and what are you most excited for, now that you’re on their roster?

What drew me to Lief was Margo [Mars, founder] and her strong vision. I was always a fan of the work that she produced and the people she chose to work with, even before she founded Lief. I am honored to be part of the roster, and am looking forward to working with her as a creative accomplice.

We share the same ideas about the kind of films we want to make together. Margo understands my need to bring my personality to my work, so we are looking closely at which kind of projects we can elevate with my touch.

What projects have you been working on since we last interviewed you, in February of this year?

Most notably to me is that I shot my first documentary ‘Miss Black Germany’. It is a short about the contestants of a black beauty pageant in Berlin. The film follows them as they seek to find a place of acceptance in a country that idolizes a predominantly white western ideal. To me, this was an immensely personal and rewarding piece of work. It premieres at ASVOFF next month.



We’re also lucky enough to have you on board as our Free The Bid Germany ambassador. Can you go over some of the developments that have been made since Free The Bid Germany was initially announced?

Since my appointment as Ambassador, I have been tirelessly taking meeting after meeting, and have been having meaningful dialogues about the need for more women directors and women in other key positions. The results have been more than encouraging.

We have definitely managed to create awareness and enthusiasm for Free The Bid amongst agencies, as well as production companies and directors. Pledges have come in from leading agencies like Serviceplan, BBDO and Havas, with another exciting pledge to announce shortly!

What has been great for me, personally, is meeting allies who one hundred percent understand the importance of an initiative like Free The Bid. Of course, I also encounter denial of the fact that we have a systemic problem in this area, but this just gives me the drive to push further.

What are the next steps for Free The Bid Germany?

I am excited about getting even more agencies on board, and I am working hard to see more and more talented directors join the database. I am currently working on ways to use my appointment as ambassador to reach more graduates and let them know about the opportunities of creative careers in advertising. I feel like we need to grow our numbers, as we do have significantly less women directors in this specific field here than, say, in the UK.

Another goal is to bring the fantastic workshop Lights Camera Power (an initiative by director Phoebe Arnstein that aims to develop the technical abilities of female directors) to Germany, and to organize other events that open up opportunities for exchange amongst the directors.

Since our last conversation with you, Free The Bid has expanded to include profiles for women in a number of other key film production roles (editors, DOPs, colorists, etc.) From your perspective as a director, what makes a diverse crew so important?

For me, diversity and inclusivity is important in all aspects of life, not just because it affects me personally as a black female director. In regards to my work and why I prefer working with a diverse crew, it is because it benefits me as a creative person. It broadens my horizon. I deliberately choose to work with people that have different perspectives to offer; it makes my work richer. Who wouldn’t want to make use of that?