Maja Zimmermann

profile / alumni / film
April 04, 2018

The Reel Thing: Meet Film Producer Maja Zimmermann

ArtCenter: What are you working on right now?
Maja Zimmermann (BA 99 Film) film producer: For the past four and a half years, I’ve been working on Killing Jesus. It recently premiered at the Toronto film festival and now we’re traveling the world with it: Columbia; Switzerland, where I’m originally from; then to a few festivals in France. You’re never really done with a film, even after it’s shot.

AC: What’s the most unique film you’ve worked on?
MZ: They’re all unique in their on way, but what I’m working on at the moment always comes to mind. With Killing Jesus, it’s a very personal story directed by a woman. It’s a film that touches many people and creates interesting conversations.

AC: Who are the most interesting filmmakers working today?
MZ: I love the perspectives of directors who come from abroad: Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049), Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman), Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) and Ruben Östlund (The Square). These are cinema’s freshest voices in my book because they’re true artists who are able to cater to a wider audience.

Maja Zimmermann

It’s satisfying when I can tell my story and, at the end of the day, to discover that I've touched people.

Maja Zimmermann

AC: What do you like most about your job?
MZ: It brings art and commerce together.

AC: How do you define success?
MZ: I think success has something to do with satisfaction. As a producer, I have two goals: To get a return on the investment and to have audiences see the film. It’s satisfying when I can tell my story and, at the end of the day, to discover that I've touched people.

AC: Do you have any superstitions?
MZ: I don’t like to jinx a film by talking about it too early.

AC: What’s the film cliché you’re most tempted to use?
MZ: There’s an audience for every story — that’s a cliche I like to believe in.

AC: What’s the one tool you can’t do without?
MZ: My iPhone — I don’t remember life without it.

AC: What’s the first site you look at when you open your computer in the morning?
MZ: The L.A. Times and a Swiss newspaper for different points of view.

AC: Where do you go (online or offline) when you’re taking a break?
MZ: I’m an avid yoga practitioner and I also teach yoga, so that’s a big inspiration. I also meditate to stay balanced.

AC: What do you do to detox from media and screens?
MZ: I love to unplug by cooking, walking outdoors or going to the theater.

AC: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day who would it be?
MZ: I always thought I would love to be an architect because it also brings functionality to art — probably a day would not be enough. As a child, I wanted to be a traffic director, which sometimes doesn’t feel far from what I do now.

AC: Describe a moment in your childhood where you first identified as a filmmaker.
MZ: I’ve always always enjoyed creating things, but watching Easy Rider and Blow-Up as a teenager made me want to become a storyteller and filmmaker.

AC: What book is on your bedside table?
MZ: My diary.

AC: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
MZ: To fly.

AC: What’s your most irrational or rational fear?
MZ: I worry that I’m wasting part of my life — if that’s rational or irrational, depends on the day.

Alumni Q&A

Submit the Alumni Q&A questionnaire to share your story. We want to hear about your accomplishments, what you're working on and your advice for future ArtCenter students.

AC: What’s your most prized possession?
MZ: A golden brooch that was my grandmother’s.

AC: Where is your happy place?
MZ: My front porch in the morning — it’s where I mediate, have my cup of coffee and take a moment before I jump into emails.

AC: How would your closest friend describe you?
MZ: Stubborn, fun, loyal, creative, generous, supportive, upbeat and often on the road.

AC: What’s your best piece of advice for an ArtCenter student who’s interested in following your career path?
MZ: In filmmaking we’re often looking to the next step: If only I had my script finished, or had an agent, or the finances for my film. In all this looking for the end of the rainbow, we often miss the joy of creation. Try to celebrate each part of the journey because even though the project might not happen, you still learn something and have fun along the way.