Nobody Can Cool will be available on DVD beginning August 20, 2013. Visit the website.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
An uncomfortable evening among strangers turns ominous when a young couple on a weekend getaway inadvertently intrude on a criminal couple's hideout.
Nobody Can Cool, the first feature film by Dpyx (Marcy Boyle and Rachel Holzman), is a graphic novel and film noir slant on the “women in jeopardy thriller.” It was shot in 14 days in Castaic, California on a shoestring budget. There are few female directors making genre movies and we hope to help fill that void with entertaining and provocative films. We are now developing hard action, science fiction and horror projects with female characters whose narrative journeys are a driving force for the plot and challenge the narrow depictions of women in mainstream genre films that often limits women to roles on the sidelines of the story.
Nobody Can Cool will be available on DVD beginning August 20, 2013. Visit the website.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
Filmmaker Shira Piven's latest film is Fully Loaded, a dark comedy about single moms and a night on the town, set in Los Angeles. Sounds like my kind of film. Piven directs and co-wrote the film which was based on a performance several years ago at Upright Citizens Brigade (or "UCB" for those in the know). I'm a real sucker for projects that are done with filmmakers' families and friends, and Piven's latest was just that. Starring a few of her friends, co-written with friends, and executive produced by her husband and brother, Fully Loaded was still a challenging project with a low budget. Her next project is in the works, and Kristen Wiig is set to star.
Shira Piven was kind enough to do an interview with me about her latest film, and adds some words of encouragement as far as how filmmakers can approach the marketing of their work.
Fully Loaded is now available to watch for free on Hulu, so go check it out now.
Kyna Morgan: Welcome to Her Film Project, my fellow Midwesterner! I know you're from Chicago, which lies just west of where I live and grew up in northern Indiana, and I've spent many fun times in that city. Thanks for talking with me about your new film, Fully Loaded, (which IMDb describes as a "van-centric" dark comedy about single moms). And thank you for making a comedy about mothers! It touches on some serious topics, though. What is it about parenthood or women's lives in today's society that drove you to make this specific film?
Shira Piven: I had admired Paula Killen’s work since our Chicago days in the 90’s and I was excited about collaborating with her first of all. She is a single mom, and I am married with 2 kids and yet we both had gone through some similar things emotionally--trying to work creatively and raise kids. I think when you have kids you have to deal with your own sexuality--both in your relationship and in the world, and when you are a single mom, it is even more intense. I think it still makes people a little uncomfortable when we talk about moms and dating, moms and sex: a single mom out on the town open to romantic possibility is still a bit racy, even for our permissive society. I like pushing people to have think about it and grapple with it. I think people are sexual beings and having kids hardly changes that--it just makes it more complicated. Also being over 35 also makes it trickier to discuss or show on film, like it or not. It was very important to me that the women playing these roles were real women--they were not the Hollywood ideal, they were a bit like all of us, both beautiful and imperfect at the same time. I really want to see more real women on screen, and more stories about women who reflect us and not an idealized Cameron Diaz in “[The] Mask” version of us. Fully Loaded is about two women who look and talk like ladies we might meet any day dealing with relationships, kids, friendship and their sense of who they are.
KM: You've assembled what seems to be such an amazing team around you, from the cast which includes Ana Gasteyer, David Koechner and Wendy McLendon-Covey, to the executive producers, who are your husband, Adam McKay, and your brother, Jeremy Piven. How do you go about assembling a team around your script, and do you purposely seek out opportunities to work with friends and family?
SP: This movie kind of just happened. Then it took as much work as I’ve ever put into any creative endeavor in my life. My brother, who is so supportive of my stuff put up the very first money for the movie. Adam doesn’t just make friends of people he has worked with, he makes devoted good friends, so Dave and Ana jumped at the chance to work a few days on Fully Loaded. I attribute that to Adam’s good nature, and of course the script attracted people. (Wendy was recommended by our casting director and we got very lucky and wish we could have used more of her!) It was Adam’s idea to turn the play version of Fully Loaded into a screenplay. We ran with it. I was looking for a first feature and this was perfect. Most of it was made though on our own with people we had to trust and work with for the first time. This too can be a challenge, especially on a super low budget indie where people are not always getting paid for their labor.
KM: You've worked for many years in theater and film, and you come from a family of actors/directors with whom you have also worked over the years. In my day job, I work with my sisters and parents at an educational foundation, and it can be challenging enough without being in a furiously creative environment like theater or film, but can also be a lot of fun. Do you have a groove you fall into when you work with your husband or brother? Does the creative dynamic between spouses or siblings ever get in the way of the project?
SP: Wow—I think working with family is incredibly challenging, but I’ve also done it my whole life. Adam was less used to it than I was, and sometimes I had to make sure I was on good behavior so he could see that it is fine and good to work with family. It is tricky with a spouse 'cause you have to go home and have dinner together--but we are drawn to certain similar projects and if it overlaps with family, so be it. I knew it could work 'cause I had lived it before. I watched my parents run a theatre together as husband and wife for over 30 years. I do sometimes feel guilty asking Jeremy to do PR stuff, 'cause he is the guy people want to hear from and he is the most tapped out.
KM: With your background in theater, do you find yourself drawing on any specific techniques you've learned, either as an actor or director, when making a film? Does your approach to directing or writing differ based on the medium in which you're working?
SP: I like that question. I am in the middle of figuring it out. At this moment I feel that film and theatre are very much the same. The logistical process is different, but the creative process is very very similar. I am finding that all my fears about being a filmmaker are slowly starting to recede as I find I can tap into all my strengths as a theatre director. I am enjoying the process of filmmaking so much, and so much more than I imagined I would. It is a bit like a visual artist who has worked in oils turning to printmaking, or even water-colors, it is a variation on a certain kind of expression. In making a play [I] like to find a lot of it together with actors in a room. Adam recently said on the set of Anchorman 2 that once you get on set what is left is only about 35 percent of things--the other 65 has been discovered already through casting, choice of DP, production designer, and of course the script is written. This is a new concept for me, so I am learning how to experiment in the pre-production process, to play and improvise in that part of the process so I won’t miss being able to endlessly experiment on set, which is of course impossible.
"...the women playing these roles were real women -- they were not the Hollywood ideal, they were a bit like all of us, both beautiful and imperfect..."
KM: As a movie lover and someone who works in marketing, I encourage filmmakers to consider marketing as an integral part of what they do, and that it can be an authentic process rather than presented as some kind of schtick. Do you have any advice you can offer to filmmakers on how to put themselves out there and build an audience for their work and themselves?
SP: Hmm--another great question. Probably just to love your film and be clear what it is about. Be able to talk about the core emotional idea of the movie in a way that excites you and it will excite others. Be realistic about what people respond to and without dumbing down the idea of the film, make it very simple. It is a big cliché, but it helps to be able to tell the idea simply and clearly in a few sentences.
KM: Can you give us a little taste of your next project? I know it stars Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell, and just based on that, I already want to see it!
SP: Well, Kristen Wiig is attached as the lead, but we don’t know yet if Will Farrell will act in it. He and Adam’s company Gary Sanchez Productions are producing it. It is an incredible amazing wonder of an original screenplay about a woman with borderline personality disorder who wins the lottery (300 or so million) and buys herself her own TV show--basically a talk/variety show all about herself. It is a very grounded dark comedy about a woman trying to find her own voice yet choosing a forum that goes right to the heart of the most narcissistic side of our culture.
KM: Thank you so much for your time, Shira, you’re always welcome back to Her Film Project. I wish you the best of luck with Fully Loaded and your future projects!
Visit the Fully Loaded website and follow on Facebook at fb.com/fullyloadedthefilm and Twitter @filmfullyloaded. Follow Shira Piven on Twitter @ShiraPiven.
Watch Fully Loaded for free now at Hulu!
In July 2012, I attended a film festival on Waiheke Island outside of Auckland, New Zealand. Invited by a colleague who worked for a big film organization at the time and helped organize the event, this was the first ever festival of films made by Maori women. Named the Whiti Whitiāhua Wāhine: Māori Women's Film Festival, it was part of the nationwide Matariki Festival which ran for several weeks. Several of the filmmakers attended and introduced their work, among them Kararaina Rangihau who is devoted to making films in the Maori language. On the ferry leaving the island for Auckland, I was able to catch a few minutes with her so she could talk about her film, Taku Rakāu e, which explores the story behind a well-known waiata (a Maori song that preserves the wisdom and knowledge of ancestors). Rangihau's film was produced by the late Merata Mita, the legendary and extraordinarily influential filmmaker. Mita was one of the earliest Maori women filmmakers and helped to influence many filmmakers both within and outside of New Zealand.
(Thanks to HWIF for this information and permission to post.)
Shero is a film by Lymari Graciano that will be part of Hawai'i Women in Filmmaking's "Work in Progress" screening on April 23 in Honolulu.
Unlike the every day super hero, Shero battles more than just evil villains. Shero battles broken heels, runs in his stockings, broken nails, and the scorn of the public. Uncomfortable in men’s clothing, all Shero wants to do is wear a dress while kicking ass. Is that so much to ask? Shero questions if the clothes really do make the man. A film by Lymari Graciano. If you want to know more about Lymari, click here.
Our Work in Progress Screenings provide a great opportunity for local and visiting women filmmakers to screen their unfinished films to an audience and get valuable feedback. It is a time of honest and constructive feedback aimed at helping the filmmakers get to the next stage of completing and distributing the film.
April 23 | 6:30 pm @ The ARTS at Marks Garage | FREE and open to the public!
Facebook page event, here.
by Lotus Wollschlager
Tiny Furniture, a film by Lena Dunham, is set in New York City and follows the life of Aura. She has just gotten out of a long term relationship and graduated from college. She moves home with her Mom and younger sister to get her bearings. Her mother (played by her real life mother) is a well-known artist that photographs miniature things, including furniture. She is an aspiring filmmaker and had already released a few things online during college. Her younger sister Nadine (her real life younger sister) gives her a hard time about being home and keeps letting her know about rules to follow at home.
Aura rekindles a childhood friendship with Charlotte after seeing her at a party. Her mother thinks she is a bad influence and doesn’t want Aura hanging out with her. Charlotte helps her get a job at a nearby restaurant as a day hostess where she has to answer the phones and take reservations. She meets Keith, a sous chef, who is standoffish at first but gets interested once he finds out that her friend Charlotte can get him some Vicodin. He asks her to meet up with him after work to hook him up with the drugs and he stands her up. She ends up giving him another chance after he shows up to her art show.
She also meets Jed at the same party that she first spotted Charlotte. He does some comedy bits on YouTube and is in town from Chicago on a business trip. Her Mom and sister are gone for the week looking at colleges so she offers to let him stay at her place. She persuades her mom to let him stay a few more nights but she finally kicks him out after he gets a bit too comfortable. He is a bit of a moocher and doesn’t really seem like he really had any plans of finding another place to stay while in town.
The film won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival. Tiny Furniture is somewhat autobiographical because Dunham’s mother (Laurie Simmons) really is an artist and uses interesting objects, such as dollhouses, in her photography. I appreciated the writing style and authenticity that Lena Dunham brought to the film. I mean, who hasn’t fumbled along at some point in their life while trying to figure out how they fit in the world? Her main character has a pity party for herself at times but manages to make an effort to keep putting herself out there.
by Kyna Morgan
Awards were passed out in Park City, Utah, last night as the Sundance Film Festival wound to an end. Several women directors and screenwriters walked away with major awards for what looked to be some incredible films. Here is the list below of the female award winners. (To see who won in the shorts category, click here.)
U.S. Dramatic Directing Award for Afternoon Delight
Soloway brought her short film Una Hora Por Favora to Sundance in 2012.
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for In a World...
Bell also served as one of the film's four producers.
Interview with Lake Bell:
MICHELE STEPHENSON (with Joe Brewster)
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for American Promise
World Cinema Documentary Audience Award for The Square (Al Midan)
Noujaim is also the director of the brilliant documentary film Control Room which screened at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Sundance page about the film
Co-writer of Circles, which was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize - Documentary for A River Changes Course
This film is Mam's directorial debut. She is also a cinematographer and was one of two cinematographers on the documentary film Inside Job which screened at Sundance in 2010.
World Cinema Documentary Directing Award for The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear
Gurchiani's documentary was acquired early on during this year's festival by Icarus Films for North American distribution.
The Sundance Film Festival officially begins today and we are so excited to bring you a wonderful lineup of interviews with the women filmmakers included in the Shorts Program at Sundance this year! The Screening Room YouTube Channel will be showing 12 of the shorts in the Sundance Shorts Program over the next few days, so be sure to check out Kat Candler's "Black Metal" (U.S. Narrative) and Julia Potts' "The Event" (Animated), the only two women directors whose work is included in those 12 films, and both of whom were at Sundance in 2012 with films.
We'll be bringing you the interviews over the course of the 11 days of the festival, but for now, here are the names of all of the women filmmakers (directors and screenwriters) in the shorts program, with some interesting statistics at the end to see how women are represented at this year's Sundance Film Festval:
U.S. Narrative Short Films
Black Metal / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kat Candler) — After a career spent mining his music from the shadows, one fan creates a chain reaction for the lead singer of a black metal band.
Boneshaker / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Frances Bodomo) — An African family, lost in America, travels to a Louisiana church to find a cure for its problem child.
K.I.T. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Morgan) — A guilt-ridden, but well-intentioned, yuppie goes to great lengths to prove she is a decent person.
#PostModem / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva) — A comedic, satirical, sci-fi pop musical based on the theories of Ray Kurzweil and other futurists, #PostModem is the story of two Miami girls and how they deal with technological singularity, as told through a series of cinematic tweets.
Skin / U.S.A. (Director: Jordana Spiro, Screenwriters: Jordana Spiro, David Pablos) — A young taxidermist and small town loner is entranced by a girl who finds his work beautiful. Just as their relationship begins to progress, he does something that drastically changes everything.
Social Butterfly / France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lauren Wolkstein) — When a 30-year-old American woman attends a teenage party in the south of France, guests wonder who she is and what she is doing there.
International Narrative Short Films
The Date / Finland (Director and screenwriter: Jenni Toivoniemi) — Tino’s manhood is put to the test in front of two women when he has to host a date for Diablo, the family’s stud cat.
Le Futur Proche / Canada (Director: Sophie Goyette, Screenwriters: Sophie Goyette, Madeleine David) — A French immigrant pilot receives an unexpected phone call that changes his life forever. He must deal with the emotional consequences of the call while still completing his work duties in this impressionistic depiction of an all-but-ordinary day.
Night Shift / New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Zia Mandviwalla) — Salote, an airport cleaner, starts another long night shift. She keeps her head down, does her job, and gleans the means for her survival from what others leave behind.
On Suffocation / Sweden (Director and screenwriter:Jenifer Malmqvist) — This dialogue-free film about an execution describes what happens when the system becomes more important than human life.
Scrubber / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Romola Garai) — A mysterious and disturbing suburban narrative about a listless young mother who is torn between family duty and self-serving fantasies. (Cinematographer: Kate Reid)
Summer Vacation / Israel (Directors: Sharon Maymon, Tal Granit, Screenwriters: Tal Granit, Sharon Maymon) — The family summer vacation: sea, sun and sand, and all Yuval wants is to get the heck out of there.
Volume / United Kingdom (Director: Mahalia Belo, Screenwriter: Ingeborg Topsøe) — Sam’s perfectly polished world is upended when Georgina goes missing. As everyone acts like nothing has happened, Sam drifts back into his memories of Georgina and realizes he may know more than he wants to remember.
Documentary Short Films
30% (Women and Politics in Sierra Leone) / United Kingdom, Sierra Leone (Director: Anna Cady) — Oil-painted animation brings to life the stories of three powerful women in postconflict Sierra Leone, revealing the violence and corruption women face as they fight for fairer representation in the governance of their country.
The Battle of amfAR / U.S.A. (Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Screenwriter: Sharon Wood) — When AIDS strikes, two very different women – Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor and research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim – join forces to create America’s first AIDS research foundation. The fight against HIV/AIDS has never been the same.
Endless Day / Germany (Director: Anna Frances Ewert) — For most people, sleep comes naturally, but for others, the night turns into an ongoing struggle to drift off into oblivion. This film explores what it’s like to be awake involuntarily and the feelings that accompany the passing of sleepless time.
Fall to Grace / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandra Pelosi) — Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevy famously resigned from office after declaring himself “a gay American.” Since then, he has been working as a spiritual advisor to women in prison.
Outlawed in Pakistan / Pakistan, U.S.A. (Directors: Habiba Nosheen, Hilke Schellmann) — Kainat Soomro, a Pakistani teenager, accuses four men from her village of gang-raping her. She takes her case to the Pakistani courts and faces a deeply flawed criminal-justice system.
Animated Short Films
Benjamin's Flowers / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Malin Erixon) — Lovelorn and lonely Benjamin lives on the blurry borderline between fantasy and reality.
Bite of the Tail / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Song E Kim) — Life is a constant struggle for a husband and wife. She is suffering from stomach pain, and the doctor has no clue about a cure. Meanwhile, her husband is on his own journey of hunting a snake.
The Event / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Julia Pott, Screenwriter: Tom Chivers) — Love and a severed foot at the end of the world.
Oh Willy... / Belgium, France, Netherlands (Directors and screenwriters: Marc James Roels, Emma De Swaef) — Willy returns to his naturalist roots as he bungles his way into noble savagery.
Tram / France, Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Michaela Pavlátová) — The humdrum daily routine of a tram conductress is jolted when the vibrations and rhythm of the road turn her on and take her on an erotic and surrealistic fantasy journey.
New Frontier Short Films
The Capsule / Greece (Director: Athina Rachel Tsangari, Screenwriters: Athina Rachel Tsangari, Aleksandra Waliszewska) — Seven young women. A mansion perched on a Cycladic rock. A series of lessons on discipline, desire, discovery, and disappearance. A melancholy, inescapable cycle on the brink of womanhood – infinitely.
Primate Cinema: Apes As Family / Scotland, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rachel Mayeri) — Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, like to watch television. What would a film made expressly for chimps look like? Created with a primatologist and actors in chimp suits, a primate drama is presented to chimpanzees at the Edinburgh Zoo.
Reindeer / United Kingdom (Director: Eva Weber) — A lyrical and haunting portrait of reindeer herding in the twilight expanses of the Lapland wilderness.
And now for some statistics to look a little closer at how women filmmakers who made short films fared in the Sundance Shorts Program this year (because we all know by now that women directors' films make up half of all official Sundance selections in the dramatic feature film category this year!)
There were 65 films chosen for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival's Shorts Program across five categories: U.S. Narrative, International Narrative, Documentary, Animated, and New Frontier.
In the U.S. Narrative category, six of the total 18 films (or 33%) had a woman director or a woman writer or co-writer. Of the 18 films, four (or 22%) had sole women writer-directors.
In the International Narrative category, seven of the total 14 films (or 50%) had a woman director or a woman writer. Of the 14 films, four (or 28.5%) had sole women writer-directors. Also, of the 14 films, two (or 14%) had two female screenwriters and also had a female director.
In the Documentary category, the showing for women was quite poor, which surprised me because women tend to be more commonly found working as directors in the documentary arena than in the dramatic feature arena. In this category, three of the total 15 films (or 20%) had a sole female director. Of the 15 films, one (or less than 1%) had two female directors. There were no female-male directing teams.
In the Animated category, four of the total 10 films (or 40%) were directed by women, with three of the total 10 (or 30%) having a sole female writer-director. One of the films (or 10%) had a female screenwriter with a male director, and one of the films (or 10%) had a male director with a female screenwriter.
In the New Frontier category, three of the total eight films (or 37.5%) had female directors, with one of the films (or 12.5%) having two female screenwriters that also had a woman director.
Sundance 2013 coverage continues later today with an interview with Song E. Kim, writer-director of the animated film Bite of the Tail.
I'm thrilled to see that new Contributor to the Her Film Project blog, Katie Carman-Lehach, is having her feature film Off Season screened on January 8 at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City! This is Katie's second feature film she has directed and co-produced and it will be screened as part of a NewFilmmakers New York event. Off Season screens at 9:30pm with a reception held beforehand.
Read more about Katie's film and watch the extended trailer below.
Short Synopsis: A noir inspired horror-thriller set on the windswept East coast during winter. Sylvie Stone takes refuge in an isolated beach hideaway after her husband is convicted of a sweeping act of financial fraud. Villainized in the press, and afraid to venture out into public, Sylvie savors the isolation, until a series of frightening occurrences lead her to discover she's being stalked by a mysterious presence. Soon each night alone is filled with terrors, and Sylvie seeks out romantic distraction with a local surfer. Uncertain of her own sanity, and faced with a terrifying ultimatum, Sylvie is forced to confront the secrets of her past, or take them with her to the grave.
From the Director's Statement:
Ideas for the films I make are sometimes born out of strange places, and "Off Season" was no different. The first spark of an idea came during a car ride home from Atlantic City, NJ with my longtime co-producer Elizabeth Lee, on what was decidedly an 'off season' trip to the shore. Bernard Madoff had just been arraigned and sentenced to 100+ years in jail, and the intrigue surrounding one of the largest ponzi schemes in history seemed unceasing. Yet there was still one side of the story yet to be told: that of Bernie's wife, Ruth Madoff. One of things I strive to do in my filmmaking is tell a story that hasn't been told, from a different perspective. Naturally I was struck by the puzzle of this character, Sylvie Stone, a woman whose life will be forever darkened by this massive crime, but whose motives are elusive and unknown to everyone but herself. What makes a person succumb so easily to greed? And what does she think & feel when she's alone? Is she remorseful? Unrepentant? These are the things we wanted to explore in creating this character and story. We also wanted to explore what would happen if outside forces were at play against her, as a means of reflection against the choices Sylvie makes. To what lengths will she go to get what she wants? Can someone like Sylvie ever be redeemed? There are many complexities at play in a character like Sylvie Stone, and we hope our film simultaneously sheds light on and questions her motives, while also acting as a reflection of our society and what our culture really values.
Visit the film's website at: www.offseasonmovie.com and follow Katie Carman-Lehach on Twitter @katiecarman.
Jacqueline Lee Katz