- DIRECT POSITIVE, 24min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Jessica Ayala
No negatives. No filters. Just raw honesty, as seen through the lens of an antique camera and the stories of Milwaukee women leaders. Through interviews and the portraits taken by tintype photographer Margaret Muza, these women reveal what it takes to lead in their careers and in our communities — and why it’s so important for more women to lead today.
Director Biography - Jessica Ayala
First-time director Jessica Ayala grew up in Waukegan, IL, a first-generation daughter to her migrant Mexican parents. She moved to Milwaukee, WI to attend Marquette University and upon graduation, began working in video production at Bader Rutter’s new post-production studio and production group. Jessica leads creative work for the agency through producing documentary storytelling, traditional spots, and podcast series. Jessica was integral in launching the agency’s diversity and inclusion group, and lends her art direction and photography skills to LUNA, or Latinas Unidas En Las Artes, which empowers the Latina/x artists of Milwaukee. Jessica now resides in Chicago, IL and is continuing to develop work within commercial, BIPOC and nonfiction storytelling.
Direct Positive is born of a partnership between Bader Rutter, a Milwaukee-based ad agency, and TEMPO, a membership organization dedicated to furthering the impact of women leaders. When the two organizations began working together, the goal was simply to refresh and build on the legacy of the TEMPO organization. But as we worked together, a bigger story emerged. Experiences demanded to be shared. TEMPO’s dedication to mentorship merged with Bader Rutter’s passion for sharing Milwaukee’s best stories, and the idea for the Direct Positive project was born.
During two days of portraits and intense interviews, a group of Milwaukee women leaders reveal more than expected — their challenges, inspirations, stumbles, and victories — and their hopes for those women who follow in their footsteps. Those revelations shine light on the ways workplaces have evolved (and must still evolve) to be inclusive of women and women in leadership positions. They reflect on the effects of imposter syndrome, on their paths rising up the ranks, what true qualities make strong leaders, and what it takes to create change. Adding to this string of stories was the parallel universe of tintype photography, the craft we’ve seen shared so thoughtfully around the city of Milwaukee by artist Margaret Muza. She shows what happens when you remove filters, Photoshop, and assumptions to really see the beauty of a single perfectly imperfect moment. A final product we get to appreciate, sharp edges and all.
As a director, beyond interviewing these incredible women for two days, I got to work alongside some of the most talented women creatives. A story from women, about women, for the world. My hope is that viewers take the stories these women share to heart. Let’s all embrace the fact that our world still has work to do to support women, and to empower them to stop trying to fit other’s molds and own their truths. That, to me, is the kind of world all women deserve, and the kind of world we should create for the women after us.