Ann LeSchander is an award-winning independent feature film and commercial director. Originally from upstate New York, Ann first worked as singer in jazz clubs, musicals and on film and TV soundtracks. Inspired by the directors she met, Ann decided to pursue her dream of becoming a filmmaker.
Ann recently wrote and directed the award-winning independent feature film The Park Bench. It won “Best Feature” at six festivals around the world including LA, Toronto, New York, Veracruz, Mexico and Calella, Spain. The Park Bench is currently distributed by Dreamscape Entertainment and is available on multiple platforms including Amazon and iTunes and in libraries across the country. It has also aired on PBS in honor of Hispanic Heritage month. The LA Times called it “a sweet tale with a smart storytelling device and charming performers.”
In addition, Ann has written and directed commercials and cross-promotional ads for companies including The Game Show Network, National Geographic, History Channel, SONY, Geico, Purina, and many others. She has written and directed campaign launches for comedians and hosts including Steve Harvey, Jeff Foxworthy, David Alan Grier, Donald Faison, Rupaul, and many others. She is a Promax Award winner for Hellevator Interruptus, a campaign to launch the hybrid horror/game show Hellevator.
Ann was the recipient of the Bridges Director Prize for her short film, The Day Before, which was aired on Fine Cuts on PBS. She received her B.A. in English from Colgate University and her M.F.A. from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
I am very good at getting along with people. For me, it has been invaluable in my career. I’ve enjoyed the relationships I’ve formed in the filmmaking trenches and remaining calm and focused has helped foster and maintain those relationships. Working as an independent filmmaker requires an incredible amount of resourcefulness and I believe I’m in a better position to get the things I need – someone’s time, a favor, a location, etc. – if I maintain positive relationships with people. In addition, I don’t know if I’m actually funny, but I do try to keep a sense of humor about things. It keeps everything in perspective. Oh, and one more thing – I’m a fan – of people’s talents – I really appreciate what people bring to the table. It’s why I love filmmaking so much. There are a lot of people bringing their ideas and skills and I love to see them excel in their field – actors, wardrobe, set design, DPs – everyone brings their talents and I really enjoy and appreciate everyone’s creative work and I like being supportive.
An extremely fierce belief (no matter how deluded) that I am capable of anything.
I love telling stories. I hope to keep making movies that connect with people. I also hope I can continue to grow as a filmmaker in terms of the stories I want to tell. My first feature was a comedy romance, but I’m now working on a mystery series, so I hope I can continue to work outside any kind of preconceived box I may be put in. I’ve also just finished a novel (my first!) and I hope I’ll get to share that with people. So, I’m sort of morphing from someone who only thought in terms of cinema and movie language to “how can I best share this story?” and I hope I can keep pursuing different forms of storytelling.
Well, I have an incredible and very creative daughter and she is a wonder. Work-wise, I’m thrilled to have a feature film (The Park Bench) that people respond to and enjoy. I’m proud that it was picked up for distribution so it is now available on many different platforms and also that it’s a big hit in libraries across the country. (As the daughter of a librarian, you have no idea how thrilled this makes me.) I continue to get emails and messages from people across the country who have discovered it, which is really gratifying. It was a tremendous amount of work and, as any independent filmmaker will tell you, a real tough slog to get through each phase of production – but when it’s all done, it is extremely gratifying.
It was a big decision for me to change course and go to film school as a graduate student. I’d been forging a path as a singer/performer but was growing restless of waiting for opportunities to be cast or to get work. I really wanted to be in charge of creating content and creating jobs so at a time when most people are already settled in their careers, I pulled together my funds, scrimped and saved, and paid my way through film school at USC. This changed me completely as I had never considered my “voice” or my “vision” before and it taught me the tools to be a maker of things. This experience empowered me to make my own art, believe what I have to say is valuable, and to share my voice with the world.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain
My husband is one of my favorite people because, not only is he a talented musician, but he works well with everyone and has a terrific sense of humor. He’s become really valued for his great work which is something I appreciate. Also, he is patient (a trait that I don’t possess so much.) He started his career with real grunt work and worked his way through college and up the ladder of his career. It’s really impressive. Another one of my favorite people of all time is my Dad, who has passed away, but he was a wonderful role model because he had such an even temperament and really valued the important things in life. Plus, he was a beloved figure, and taught me a lot about how to get along with people and treat everyone with respect.
We went to Barcelona a couple of years ago and I absolutely loved it. I love the people, the culture and music, and, especially, the food! My other favorite place is the Finger Lakes in central New York. To me, it is the most beautiful place in the country. I grew up nearby and we would spend our summers there. I love everything about being on a lake – swimming, the sound of the lapping waves, the scenic views – and most of all, the pace. I usually run full speed ahead in life but when I’m at the lake I truly enjoy slowing everything down.
I love my piano. It’s my favorite thing in my house. I play and sing which I enjoy immensely – but I also love listening to my daughter play and sing. She’s got a fantastic personal style and I love to hear her express it. When my husband and I first moved to Los Angeles and were living hand to mouth, he surprised me with a piano – just some old run-down junker from Craigslist, but it played – and boy did I love it! That was one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received.
I’ve written a TV pilot that I think is really cool with a terrific premise for a series. It’s something that has been percolating in my brain for a while and I’ve finally cracked it and think it really has legs. It’s my current passion and I’ve been getting out to as many people as I can with it. And completely unrelated – I still love to sing. For the last couple of years I’ve worked with a wonderful teacher and we’ve been drilling down on my classical repertoire. I’ve been learning arias and opera roles. So fun! Learning new languages is hard – especially German for me – but this past year I got to perform in my first opera and I absolutely loved it.