On The Cusp, Longlist - Short Film

NOWNESS, Bad Habits

Gillian Zinser


Gillian Zinser is a filmmaker, actress, activist and photographer with a background in humanitarian aid and journalism, who brings a fresh and inspired voice in human-interest storytelling to her work. Zinser’s perspective is firmly fixed on the underdog as her directorial work marries a raw, intimate style with a focus on unique and fringe communities searching for acceptance. Her short films and commercials aim to promote connection and empathy, explore and confront stereotypes, and broaden our understanding of beauty. Her curiosity and compassion shine light into hidden corners of our world, showing us that the exquisite can be found in unexpected places. Zinser has directed several short films, each one poignant. Among them are the docu-pieces “Kodak Presents: Nightlight” and “Get Off Your Damn Phone,” and the brilliant 8-minute “Whoever You Are” about a Vietnam vet who finds salvation in a stranger and in which Zinser plays the supporting role. Her talent for capturing authenticity from her subjects and diffused, ethereal style has naturally led her into the commercial space, crafting work for clients such as Chanel, Bode, Datura, Araks, Dôen, Matches Fashion, Free People, and the XP Foundation. Zinser’s artistic talent stretches to her career as an actress, most famously for playing Ivy Sullivan in The CW reboot of 90210. This experience has informed her foundation for directing, visible in how she engages with her subjects in a far more personal way, knowing and appreciating the vulnerability it takes to be on their side.