Education and early career
Originally from the UK, Joanna Bowers’ love of storytelling began at an early age with her study of drama and dance and photography. These interests continued well into adulthood when she graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Her professional career began directing theatre productions for the Sun International Hotel group in Dubai. She soon relocated to Los Angeles to work in television commercial production, working her way up in the film and television industry. Roles including content development for Warner Music Group and networks including MTV, VH1 and CMT. Joanna also worked as a casting director for independent feature films and digital television content for the Publicis Advertising Groupe.
Transition into directing
She began her film directing career when asked to direct the short film Inviolate Rose in 2009. To do this she leveraged her years of theatre directing, casting and production knowledge to create a very well received short film. Natalie Portman’s Handsome Charlie Films then optioned her original feature script based on it. This project was quickly followed by a television pilot and a range of other commercial, fashion and narrative projects once Joanna realized her passion for directing.
In 2011 Joanna moved to Hong Kong where she is now based. Since relocating to Asia, projects have seen her filming throughout mainland China, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and the United States. Recent commercial clients have included brands such as Cathay Pacific, HSBC and The North Face.
Producing and directing The Helper
Having told several successful female-driven short-form stories, in 2015 she was inspired to explore the issues facing migrant workers in Hong Kong and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund The Helper documentary. The film, Joanna’s feature directorial debut, chronicles the diverse stories from Hong Kong’s migrant domestic “helpers,” exploring the immense contribution they make to society in the face of heart-breaking separation from their loved ones.
The Helper premiered in Hong Kong in May 2017, followed by a 10 week sold-out theatrical release with Hong Kong’s Edko films. As a result, the film’s Thanks A Million social impact campaign has inspired thousands of public gestures of gratitude towards the migrant worker population. The goal with this campaign is to create a marked shift in their perception within the community.
Female empowerment and nurturing the next generation
Joanna is passionate about telling inspiring, international stories featuring ethnically diverse casts including strong women and unique perspectives. She is currently developing original content including scripted feature films and television series incorporating those elements.
Joanna is also believes in the importance of nurturing the next generation of women in film and is therefore currently in post-production on feature documentary Inside Out she is producing with director Hannah Bent.