The pandemic heightened awareness that we all need time to care — and that most of us can’t afford it. Ky Dickens, the award-winning director of Zero Weeks, discovered interest in an unexpected place: TikTok. The more she looked, the more she found people with zero tolerance for zero weeks of paid leave and an appetite for activism.

  • Ky Dickens
    The City That Sold America, Zero Weeks, Sole Survivor, Fish out of Water
  • Ky Dickens
    Fish out of Water, Zero Weeks
  • Hannah Franck
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes 1 second
  • Completion Date:
    August 27, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    86,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
    Digita (Alexa Amira)
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Focus Awards (Women in Film)
    United States
    Achievement in Directing
Director Biography - Ky Dickens

Award winning filmmaker Ky Dickens is best known for her acclaimed documentaries that shift public policy and culture. She’s been hailed a storyteller at the intersection of film and complex social issues - demonstrated by receiving the Focus Award for Achievement in Directing and the Change Maker Award for influencing social change through art and film.

Her 2019 film, THE CITY THAT SOLD AMERICA is about Chicago’s crucial, yet often-overlooked, place in American consumer culture. The film is a sequel to Emmy-award winning Art & Copy. Her 2018 film ZERO WEEKS, about America’s paid leave crisis, premiered the trailer at the White House Summit on the United State of Women, hosted by Oprah and Michelle Obama. ZERO WEEKS is being used by state legislatures, businesses and hospitals nationwide to move the needle towards a national paid leave policy. Ky’s 2016 documentary hit SOLE SURVIVOR (CNN FILMS), profiled four survivors of otherwise fatal plane crashes. Her first feature documentary, FISH OUT OF WATER, was recognized for its instrumental role in changing the national faith perspective on LGBTQ human rights. All four of Ky’s feature documentaries can be viewed on AMAZON PRIME. Collectively, they have won more than 20 awards for best picture and audience choice. She is currently directing, CRITICAL CONDITION a film about America’s healthcare crisis, especially in states that did not expand Medicaid. Her latest short film, #TimeToCare features an in-depth look at some of the heartwarming caregiving stories that appeared on TikTok during the pandemic – and what they mean about American culture. She is also developing the new documentary, BATTLE CRY, about a clandestine group of veterans saving lives of armed service men and women who are dealing with extreme mental health challenges.

In addition to her feature film work, Ky directs commercials for some of the biggest brands in America. Her clients include Tylenol, McDonald’s, Intel, Koehler, Purina, Huggies, Hershey’s and Kellogg’s. Ky is featured on the “Free the Work” list of the female directors in America. She’s represented by YARD DOG and STORY CO. She’s an active member of Film Fatales Los Angeles. She graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors from Vanderbilt University. She lives in beautiful Burbank, CA with her family, kombucha scoby and Devon Rex cats.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

TikTok, it can suck you into another's relationships, kitchen, car, brain.I didn't really get it until my wife started TikToking as a way to feel connected and relevant during the pandemic. I don’t spend much time on Social Media and thought TikTok was mostly humorous commentary on the mundane and the ridiculous but then I started noticing a slew of stories on paid leave. And they were sweet and moving and funny.
Paid leave is something I've come to know and care a lot about. My own lack of adequate paid leave, when I had our daughter, became the catalyst for my feature film Zero Weeks about the paid leave crisis America. After the film came out, it was an awesome ride. The work of nonprofits, business owners, medical groups, and faith groups built so much momentum around the issue and Zero Weeks was often a part of that. And then…the entire country witnessed all at once why paid leave is important when pandemic hit in 2020.
What happens if you or a loved one gets sick, and you have no access to paid leave? You have to choose between losing your income or your health. Many people couldn't be with a dying loved one before the pandemic, but now it was happening on a massive scale. And over there on TikTok, people were talking about what was happening in America, but there was something fresh about their voices and their stories. People were fed up, exasperated, even laughing at the utter lunacy of their lack of options.
For decades most Americans thought they had to bear the lack of paid leave because that's what normal is but the movement and the pandemic are turning the tide. More and more people now have zero tolerance for zero weeks of paid leave. This film is about my journey to meet TikTok creators who four their voice and their audience by posting their caregiving stories throughout the pandemic