g The Film Panel Notetaker: Females bring home the bacon

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Females bring home the bacon

4/27/07 Bringing Home the Bacon
They act. They write. They Produce.

I went to see Eva Mendez , Julie Delpy, Rosario Dawson, Julia Styles, and Mary Stuart Masterson this week at Tribeca Film FEstival. They are all actresses and all have a film (or two) they’ve produced. What a great panel to attend as I’m pouring through my movie, driving it to the finish line. Not only did these women assure me that it can be done and it’s worth it, but that yeah, it’s really really hard.

You have to do everything. You have to have your hands in all aspects of filmmaking. Julia Styles said that she learned even more about acting and what reads well on screen while helming her feature, Raving. Julie Delpy’s Two Days in Paris developed her love for editing and says that’s when you really make the film. Rosario Dawson talked about her producing partner, someone she’s been working with since NYU. They funded their shorts with the money she made from Pluto Nash and are working together to put different stories that matter to them out there.

Eva Mendez came on as Executive Producer for her film, Live!. It was a story she responded to and wanted to know what it would take to make it. She and Julia talked a bit about how they love to play characters that could be transposed into men. Mary Stuart Masterson loved the heart and innocence in her film Cake Eaters and pushed herself creatively writing, directing and producing.

They went on to discuss gender and how women may be more nurturing, but whoever you are, you have to be tough to helm a film. It was funny to hear that they get phone calls from people who want a “female director”. What does that really mean? And why would Julie know less about a soldier at war than a male director who’s never been?

The playing ground still isn’t necessarily equal and women do seem to strive to be better than men. For anyone to be a director, you have to be calm under fire—something not mistaken for weakness. Being aggressive for the sake of it is transparent. Having temper tantrums (they mentioned David O. Russel in passing here, the point being that this applies to men too) don’t really reflect well on anyone who’s head of the ship—you just won’t be taken seriously.

Another good thing to hear is that it’s an excellent move to have a ton of ideas. Eva said to put yourself out there, get exposure—just do stuff and who knows what will come to you. I tend to be all over the place with ideas, and think that the more you have developed, the more you expand your vocabulary as an artist which makes you more versatile.

Mary said you just have to be passionate about the project (not do it because that’s what’s trendy or available) and always have other ideas that you toss around to see what sticks. Rosario said that having strength and integrity is the best you can show to people. The director/producer thing is a thankless job. It’s about spontaneity and doing what comes to you.

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