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Inaugural Indiewire Honors to Celebrate James Franco, Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani and More

Inaugural Indiewire Honors to Celebrate James Franco, Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani and More
IndieWire, the definitive outlet for creative independence in film and TV, will launch IndieWire Honors — celebrating six of the biggest names in entertainment with an event November 2 in Los Angeles as well as video coverage and interviews with the honorees that will be featured on Indiewire.com.

“For more than 20 years, IndieWire has celebrated the fresh talent who help advance unique and original storytelling,” said IndieWire Editor in Chief Dana Harris. “This event highlights the best and brightest who remain true to their voice.”

“At the heart of this event is IndieWire’s mission to advocate for distinctive artists who push boundaries,” said IndieWire Publisher James Israel. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have this amazing group for our first IndieWire Honors.”

Selected by IndieWire’s editorial team, the first-ever honorees are familiar names on the cusp of even greater success. They include:

Mary J. Blige — Breakthrough Performance (Film). Mary J. Blige is already a musical
See full article at Variety - Film News »

IndieWire Announces Lineup for Inaugural IndieWire Honors

  • Indiewire
IndieWire Announces Lineup for Inaugural IndieWire Honors
IndieWire, the definitive outlet for creative independence in film and TV, will launch IndieWire Honors — celebrating six of the biggest names in entertainment with an event November 2 in Los Angeles as well as video coverage and interviews with the honorees that will be featured on Indiewire.com.

“For more than 20 years, IndieWire has celebrated the fresh talent who help advance unique and original storytelling,” said IndieWire Editor in Chief Dana Harris. “This event highlights the best and brightest who remain true to their voice.”

“At the heart of this event is IndieWire’s mission to advocate for distinctive artists who push boundaries,” said IndieWire Publisher James Israel. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have this amazing group for our first IndieWire Honors.”

Selected by IndieWire’s editorial team, the first-ever honorees are familiar names on the cusp of even greater success. They include:

Mary J. Blige — Breakthrough Performance (Film
See full article at Indiewire »

Guest Post: Plenty of Qualified Women Directors Are Ready to Fill the Ranks

Rachel Feldman

Guest Post by Rachel Feldman

If asked to imagine a film or TV director, most people conjure the image of a man. Sadly, this is true for those who work in the film and television industry as well. In fact, research from USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative confirms that zero percent of Hollywood executives have any women director’s names at the top of their minds. Of course, those in the know have lists that include Kathryn Bigelow, Patty Jenkins, or Ava DuVernay in features and Lesli Linka Glatter or Reed Morano in television — but there are also hundreds, if not thousands, of highly skilled women directors who have been invisible for way too long.

The statistics for women directing stagnates at four percent in feature films and at 17 percent in television, and although the 17 percent in TV may initially sound like forward momentum, when statistically analyzed it proves to be an illusory number because it doesn’t represent the number of women directing, only the number of episodes directed by women. In other words, it is often the same few women doing all the work. But the fact is that there are over 1,300 experienced women directors in the Directors Guild of America (DGA), many with decades of experience in high-quality broadcast and cable television. So why do only about 50 of these directors appear and re-appear on network hiring lists?

Last week NBC announced a new “Female Forward” program that will train 10 new women directors a year through a shadowing program. NBC President Jennifer Salke says that the pool of available directors is “too small” and she’s excited about the idea of having 30 new directors in three years. Of course it’s fantastic that NBC is going to create a program in support of women directors, but it would be a mistake not to correct an insidious false assumption that continues to undermine real progress.

Salke is by no means alone in her thinking: it is a predominate belief throughout the entire industry that one of the reasons why gender employment statistics are so low is because there just aren’t enough qualified women directors to fill the ranks. But this is patently untrue.

The fact is that NBC could have 100 highly skilled directors tomorrow. If our industry truly wants swift, equitable gender equity in the director ranks, the answer is not simply to train new directors and hope for the future. We need to find and hire the large pool of already trained, highly accomplished women directors who have been toiling in the trenches for decades. We need to make the change now.

The employment mechanism for hiring directors is, no doubt, complex. There are many levels of executives, all who need to vet a director. That’s why directors with hot credits and repped by top agents are easy to notice — and those who may not have a recent credit, or who are not represented by a high-profile agent or manager, become invisible.

Women’s careers also look different from their male counterparts’. Women often step away from thriving careers to raise children and care for family members. Add in the gender bias that makes each and every job a Sisyphean hurdle and it’s simple to see how women lose their reps and fall off rosters. But these women are indomitable. Many have thriving careers in allied fields as writers, producers, editors, ADs, or teachers. Some make independent features. All of them are eager to be making an honorable living, with goldstar health insurance, using the masterful skills they have taken a lifetime to hone.

In life, and certainly in the movie business, we are taught that we will be rewarded for tenacity and determination, but so far this has not proven true for an army of women directors.

Meryl Streep sponsors a program for mid-career women writers through New York Women in Film & Television, the Writers Guild of America has made enormous strides supporting the careers of their experienced female members with a variety of initiatives and programs, and The Ravenal Foundation and The Jerome Foundation have long supported mid-career female feature directors. But in the television director landscape the continued focus on new, untrained directors as the sole way to ameliorate a widespread problem is both an unimaginative solution and an enormous injustice to women who have already been injured by decades of gender exclusion.

DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, and Ryan Murphy are trendsetting new formulas in hiring television directors. They understand that the status quo is not serving directors who are not white men and they are hiring both veteran directors who’ve fallen off hiring lists as well as promising talent. But a handful of progressive thinkers is not enough. The entire industry — networks, studios, producers, and agencies — must create avenues of opportunity for mid-career women directors. It may require a bit of work to discover this gold mine of talent but just below the surface are literally hundreds of brilliant women directors who deserve a break.

This past presidential election was a disgraceful example of how accomplished, highly experienced women can be disregarded. Hiding behind excuses of: “It’s our [pick one] first/second/third season,” or “We have [pick one] stunts/VFX/finicky actors/cross-boarding/a tricky tone…” is as misogynistic/patriarchal as men who think they can grab women wherever they want. We must continue to ask why men are regarded with great potential and women are seen as needing to have a continuing education. Mid-career women directors are trained to figure out what they need to tell a story and it’s high time for the film and TV machine to support and nurture this valuable resource.

Create your own programs and initiatives or search for us at The Director List and the DGA.

And here is a just-a-tip-of-the-iceberg list of experienced television directors — not intended to be exhaustive or comprehensive — to illustrate the bounty to be discovered. There are also hundreds more accomplished women in the independent world:

Victoria Hochberg, Gloria Muzio, Neema Barnette, Debbie Reinisch, Hanelle Culpepper, Martha Coolidge, Amy Heckerling, Tanya Hamilton, Tessa Blake, Kat Candler, Shannon McCormack Flynn, Ellen Pressman, Leslie Libman, Vicky Jenson, Stacy Title, Linda Feferman, Matia Karrell, Maggie Greenwald, Deborah Kampmeier, Debra Granik, Darnell Martin, Anna Foerster, Heather Cappiello, Nicole Rubio, Leslie Libman, Beth Spitalny, Daisy Von Scherler Mayer, Jan Eliasberg, Elodie Keene, Diana Valentine, Jessica Landaw, Julie Hebert, Julie Anne Robinson, Katherine Brooks, Martha Mitchell, Nicole Kassell, Nzingha Stewart, Rachel Talalay, Rose Troche, Stacey Black, Alexis Korycinski, Allison Anders, Ami Canaan Mann, Amy Redford, Anna Mastro, Anne Renton, Catherine Jelski, Claudia Weill, Dee Rees, Helen Hunt, Jessica Yu, Donna Deitch, Kasi Lemmons, Lily Mariye, So Yong Kim, Tina Mabry, Tanya Hamilton, Rachel Feldman

Rachel Feldman has directed more than 60 hours of television and is in development to direct her award-winning screenplay “Fair Fight,” a political thriller based on the life of Fair Pay activist Lilly Ledbetter. She is a former chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee. Go to her website for more information. #WomenCallAction

Guest Post: Plenty of Qualified Women Directors Are Ready to Fill the Ranks was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 4: 1984–1999

Mississippi Masala

by Carrie Rickey

This five-part Truthdig series by Carrie Rickey is published in partnership with Women and Hollywood. The series considers the historic accomplishments of women behind the camera, how they got marginalized, and how they are fighting for equal employment. Specifically, this series asks, why do females make up between 33 and 50 percent of film-school graduates but account for only seven percent of working directors? What happened to the women directors in Hollywood?

While female filmmakers waited for Judge Pamela Rymer to hand down a decision in the 1983 Directors Guild class-action suit against Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, alleging discrimination for not hiring women and ethnic minorities represented by the guild, there were positive signs of change in Hollywood.

In 1984, for the first time that almost anyone could remember, one needed two hands to count the number of feature films by women released in the U.S. market. One was Diane Kurys’ “Entre Nous” (1983), nominated for best foreign film at the Academy Awards in April 1984, making Kurys the second female director whose film was so honored.

Between 1950 and 1980, the number of movies directed by women in the Directors Guild of America (DGA) totaled 14. From 1984 to 1985 there were 12.

In 1984 many women were making their second features. Among them were Gillian Armstrong’s period drama “Mrs. Soffel,” Amy Heckerling’s gangster comedy “Johnny Dangerously,” Penelope Spheeris’ teenage-runaway saga “Suburbia,” and Amy Holden Jones’ romantic drama “Love Letters.” Martha Coolidge, beloved for “Valley Girl,” her 1983 debut, was on her third feature, “National Lampoon’s Joy of Sex.” With more women behind the movie camera in the United States than any time since the ’teens, it seemed that Hollywood was reopening the studio gates to women. Their movies featured women in lead roles.

The wave of optimism crested in 1985. Argentine director Maria Luisa Bemberg’s historical romance “Camila” (1984) was in contention for best foreign film. Susan Seidelman, an Nyu film-school grad who made a splash in 1983 with the indie “Smithereens,” released “Desperately Seeking Susan,” starring “It Girl” Rosanna Arquette and Madonna, cast when the latter was a relative unknown. It was a runaway hit. Heckerling and Spheeris each released third features, respectively “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” and “The Boys Next Door.” Coolidge released her fourth: “Real Genius,” a genuinely funny nerd comedy with a fully developed female character — and special effects.

Then came the crash.

In August 1985 Judge Rymer handed down her decision. While the class-action case was important and viable, Rymer ruled, she had to disqualify the DGA from leading the class due to a conflict of interest. White male members also competing for directing jobs dominated the guild, she said. Thus the DGA was in no position to represent the interests of its women and ethnic minority members. Out of exhaustion and lack of money, the Original Six, the group of female filmmakers that had first spurred the DGA to initiate the suit, did not pursue it any further.

As the DGA suit played out during the early 1980s, Hollywood’s business model was in flux. Studios abandoned the one-size-fits-all strategy of advertising a movie in general-interest publications and embraced segmented marketing — that is, making and marketing movies to a specific demographic. Fewer dollars were spent advertising movies in mainstream newspapers and more were spent on ads that ran during TV shows young males were said to watch. More and more, movies starred predominantly men and boys. Because actors had higher-profile roles, they could command higher salaries than actresses.

By dividing the market into sectors, studios divided the audience and the culture. Boys see movies about boys. Older people see movies about older people. Women see movies about women. Those in different demographics no longer watch the same stories.

In 1980, four of the 10 top box office stars were women: Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek, and Barbra Streisand. In 1990 there was only one: Julia Roberts. According to 1990 statistics from the Screen Actors Guild, not only were actresses underpaid, but they were also “undercast”: 14 percent of the leading roles, and only 29 percent of all roles, went to women.

The “Indiana Jones” trilogy made in the 1980s reflected the progressively diminishing role of females in film during a decade when male action/adventures dominated the multiplex. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), the character Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) plays Indy’s helpmate. In “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), the Willie Scott character (Kate Capshaw) is helpless. And in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” archeologist Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) is the enemy.

Despite such trends, the late 1980s and 1990s proved to be boom years for female directors in Hollywood and Indiewood, as independent film is known. In 1987, Kathryn Bigelow, a onetime sculptor and graduate of Columbia University’s film program, made her second feature, the “vampire Western” “Near Dark.” And though Elaine May’s studio film “Ishtar” was almost universally panned upon release, it earned belated respect. Richard Brody of The New Yorker correctly described it as “an unjustly derided masterwork.” In 1987, six percent of films were directed by women, higher than at any time since 1916.

The percentage dropped in 1988, but that was a watershed year for female filmmakers. “Big,” a comedy from Penny Marshall (co-written by Anne Spielberg), was universally acclaimed. It was the first movie directed by a woman that surpassed $100 million at the box office. With the romantic comedy “Crossing Delancey,” Joan Micklin Silver returned to making big-screen fare, and her modest hit was well received. Also in 1988, Silver’s daughter, Marisa, made her second feature, “Permanent Record,” about teen suicide. “Salaam, Bombay!”, the first feature from Mira Nair, the India-born, Harvard-educated documentarian, was a best foreign film Oscar nominee.

The following year, “Look Who’s Talking” from Amy Heckerling likewise surpassed the $100 million mark for box office sales in the U.S. and made nearly $300 million worldwide. For the most part, though, heads of studios regarded Marshall’s and Heckerling’s box-office smashes as flukes. Two heads of production told me in 1991 that “movies by women don’t make money.” Nevertheless, it turned out to be a exceptional year for the quality and range of releases from women. And it shaped up to be a year when movies by female filmmakers did make serious money.

Some of the highlights of 1991: Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” an evocative portrait of generations of Gullah women off the South Carolina coast circa 1901; Jodie Foster’s “Little Man Tate,” about a child prodigy emotionally torn between his mother and a psychologist for gifted children; and Mira Nair’s “Mississippi Masala,” a sexy romance about a South Asian woman born in Uganda (played by then-newcomer Sarita Choudhry) in love with an African-American man (Denzel Washington). Both Kathryn Bigelow’s action film “Point Break” and Barbra Streisand’s psychological study “Prince of Tides” examined the emotional costs to men who struggle to prove their masculinity. Bigelow’s movie grossed $83 million and Streisand’s $110 million. (Adjusted for inflation, that’s $148 million and $196 million in today’s dollars.)

Not only can female filmmakers make movies that show a different side of men, but they also make movies that show different aspects of women. Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own” (1992), about the All-American Girls Baseball Leagues during World War II, celebrates the athleticism (rather than the sexuality) of the female body. Nora Ephron’s “This is My Life,” her 1992 directorial debut about a single mom whose choice of comedy career affects her daughters, shows that career and motherhood need not be in conflict. Like Ephron’s film, Allison Anders’ “Gas Food Lodging” (also 1992) explores what happens when the children of single moms reconnect with biological fathers. Male directors were, and are not, making movies like these.

During the 1990s, almost every year brought a new evergreen made by a female filmmaker. In 1993 there were two. One was Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” a haunting allegory about a mute woman that struck a chord internationally. It earned $62 million at the box office and multiple Oscar nominations, including one for best director, making Campion the third woman to be cited in this category. The other was Nora Ephron’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” the comedic romance between two people who don’t meet in person until the last scene, which scored a $227 million box office.

“Sleepless” additionally introduced the questionable concept of the “chick flick” to a broader audience. This is a non-genre that has come to be defined as any movie that, according to the term’s proponents, women want to see and that men think they don’t want to watch — or any movie directed by a woman. The division between “chick flick” and its corollary, the “dick flick,” is a perhaps unintended consequence of target marketing, implying that movies represent a gender-linked proposition.

Almost overnight, the perception was created that movies predominantly featuring women, or “women’s interests,” or directed by women would shrivel the manhood of the male moviegoer. In 1994 the head of a major studio told me, without irony or shame, that “Women on the screen means no men in the audience.” When I asked him for data to back up his claim, he said he had it, but it was proprietary.

Despite such signs of cultural and corporate sexism, the 1990s were a good time to be a female filmmaker. In 1994, Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women” was immediately embraced as a classic. Newcomer Darnell Martin’s “I Like it Like That,” an urban comedy about a working mother juggling job, marriage, and parenthood, earned positive reviews. And Rose Troche’s “Go Fish,” the first indie comedy about girl-on-girl courtship, marked a milestone for the burgeoning genre.

The following year, 16 films by women were in U.S. release, setting another record for that era. Many of them were comedies. There was Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless,” a droll version of Jane Austen’s “Emma” set at a Beverly Hills high school. There is Betty Thomas’ “The Brady Bunch Movie,” in which the former actress sets the characters of the 1970s TV hit in the 1990s to great comic effect. Distinctly not a comedy was Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days,” a science-fiction thriller about sex crimes, which lost money but became a cult favorite. At the 1996 Oscar ceremony, with “Antonia’s Line,” Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris became the first female filmmaker to direct the award-winning foreign film.

But apart from Bigelow and Mimi Leder, a director of episodic television who in 1997 directed “The Peacemaker” and in 1998 “Deep Impact,” female filmmakers were not making action films. For the most part women made comedies and human stories, movies with no explosions in the opening scene. Veteran filmmaker Martha Coolidge spoke for many women when she noted that the scripts the studios sent her were for comedies or family dramas. “About 90 percent of what comes my way are ten different kinds of breast cancer stories, ten kinds of divorce stories, and ten kinds of women-taking-care-of-their-fathers stories,” she said. “I do those. I care about those deeply. But one does want to do more.”

Female filmmakers were typecast in the way many actors and actresses have been, for the most part pigeonholed in family drama and comedy genres. For example, in 1997 actress Kasi Lemmons made her directorial debut with “Eve’s Bayou,” a haunting family drama, and Betty Thomas returned with the Howard Stern biopic “Private Parts.” In 1998, Ephron returned with the romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.” Nancy Meyers, a long-time screenwriter, made her directorial debut with the family-friendly comedy “The Parent Trap,” and Brenda Chapman, a Disney animator, was one of three directors on “Prince of Egypt,” the animated story of Moses.

In 1999, three female filmmakers made rookie features unlike anything in American movies. Two were romantic dramas about teenage sexuality, the other an imaginative Shakespeare adaptation. Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, looked at how boys look at girls, subversively turning the female gaze on the male gaze. Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” dramatized the life story of Teena Brandon, who changed her name and gender to become Brandon Teena and fell victim to a hate crime.

Julie Taymor, the theater director who created “The Lion King” on stage, made her movie debut with “Titus,” an anachronistic version of the Shakespeare history play “Titus Andronicus,” underscoring its parallels to Italy under Mussolini.

At the end of the decade — and century — of the 11,000 filmmakers working both in television and film included in the Directors Guild of America, about 2,300 were women. While women made up 21 percent of the membership, they comprised only 9 percent of the filmmakers working in movies.

Most, including Martha Lauzen, a professor at San Diego State University and the head of the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, naturally assumed that in the new century the needle would move toward 50/50.

In addition to writing film reviews and essays for Truthdig, Carrie Rickey has been a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Village Voice, and an art critic at Artforum and Art in America. Rickey has taught at various institutions, including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has appeared frequently on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” MSNBC, and CNN.

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 4: 1984–1999 was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

‘La La Land,’ ‘Moonlight,’ ‘Manchester by the Sea’ Earn Directors Guild Nominations

‘La La Land,’ ‘Moonlight,’ ‘Manchester by the Sea’ Earn Directors Guild Nominations
The Directors Guild of America has nominated Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”), Garth Davis (“Lion”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) for its top feature film award.

The DGA also nominated Davis on Thursday for its first-time director award along with Tim Miller for “Deadpool,” Kelly Fremon Craig for “Edge of Seventeen,” Nate Parker for “The Birth of a Nation” and Dan Trachtenberg for “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

The winners will be announced at 69th Annual DGA Awards on Feb. 4 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The DGA nominations for the TV, commercial and movie documentary categories were announced Wednesday.

The DGA, which has 16,000 members, overlooked contenders David Mackenzie (“Hell or High Water”), Martin Scorsese (“Silence”), Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”).

Chazelle, Davis, Jenkins, Lonergan and Villeneuve are all receiving DGA feature film nominations for the first time. The nomination of Davis, an
See full article at Variety - Film News »

‘Split Screen’: 9 Reasons You Should Watch FilmStruck’s Revival of TV’s Best-Ever Series About Indie Film

‘Split Screen’: 9 Reasons You Should Watch FilmStruck’s Revival of TV’s Best-Ever Series About Indie Film
Anyone who knows independent film history also knows “Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes,” a memoir by seminal producer’s rep John Pierson of his role in launching the careers of filmmakers such as Kevin Smith, Spike Lee, and Richard Linklater. Between 1997 and 2001, Pierson had a new way to spotlight talented filmmakers with IFC’s “Split Screen.” Now FilmStruck has acquired “Split Screen” streaming rights and, starting this Saturday, the original episodes will become available, with six episodes added every six weeks. Pierson spoke to IndieWire by phone and shared his thoughts as to why the show still belongs on your radar.

The Late ’90s Were an Optimistic Moment

Whether it’s showing somebody you know, somebody you should know, or somebody you may never know because we featured some wacky people who never went anywhere — that sense of optimism permeates most everything we did. To me, this is a nice
See full article at Indiewire »

'The Walking Dead' Recap: Queens of the Hill

'The Walking Dead' Recap: Queens of the Hill
The Walking Dead isn't exactly television's most subtle drama – but the show does have its moments. At the end of tonight's episode – "Go Getters" – Enid arrives at the Hilltop Colony, and kneels in front of the freshly dug graves for Glenn and Abraham, near which she places a stick with three green balloons. Last week, she endured the creepy sexual advances of one of the Saviors to hold onto those orbs, for reasons that at the time went unexplained. And now, without over-stressing the point, this series lets a festive
See full article at Rolling Stone »

"The Vampire Diaries: She's Come Undone"

  • SneakPeek
Sneak Peek footage, images and synopsis from "The Vampire Diaries" episode "She's Come Undone", written by Michael Narducci, Rebecca Sonnenshine and directed by Darnell Martin, that aired May 2, 2013 on The CW:

"...'Damon' and 'Stefan' try a brutal new approach to provoke 'Elena' to turning her humanity back on.

"But 'Caroline' is frustrated when her attempt to intervene backfires.

"Then when Elena figures out a way to call the 'Salvatore' brothers' bluff, they call for backup from a surprising source. Meanwhile 'Matt' gives 'Rebekah' some unsolicited advice on her life choices, and she tries to help him in return. And 'Caroline' has a confusing and dangerous encounter with 'Klaus', as 'Katherine' is suspicious when 'Bonnie' makes her an offer that she promises will benefit them both..."

"The Vampire Diaries" is based on "The Vampire Diaries" book series by author L. J. Smith. Set in a small town haunted by 'supernatural beings',
See full article at SneakPeek »

Following Up The Writers Lab for Female Screenwriters Over 40

The first ever Writers Lab, a program targeting female screenwriters over 40, took place at Wiawaka on Lake George, New York from September 18-20, 2015.

The group of mentors included Caroline Kaplan ("Boyhood," "Time Out of Mind," "Personal Velocity"), Kirsten Smith ("Legally Blonde," "Ten Things I Hate About You"), Jessica Bendinger ("Bring It On," "Aquamarine"), Mary Jane Skalski ("Win Win," "The Station Agent"),Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Secret Life of Bees," "Beyond the Lights"),Lydia Dean-Pilcher ("The Lunchbox," The Reluctant Fundamentalist"), Meg LeFauve ("Inside Out," "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys"), and Darnell Martin (“Cadillac Records” and “I Like It Like That”).

Launched by New York Women in Film and Television (Nywift) and Iris, a collective of women filmmakers dedicated to championing the female voice in narrative film, was funded in part by Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep, and with the collaboration of the Writers Guild of America East.

Motivated by its screenwriting members who were frustrated with the paucity of development opportunities, Iris founders Elizabeth Kaiden, Kyle Ann Stoke, and Nitza Wilson approached Nywift to support a screenwriting Lab exclusively for this demographic and The Writers Lab came into being.

I spoke with Iris cofounder Elizabeth Kaiden to follow up about the first Writers Lab.

Kouguell: How many screenplays were submitted for consideration?

Kaiden: There were approximately 3,500 screenplays submitted. The selected participants were Sarah Bird ("Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen), Vanessa Carmichael ("The American"). Tracy Charlton ("Raised Up"), Kellen Hertz ("Ashburn"), Anna Hozian ("Anchor Baby"), Lyralen Kaye ("St John the Divine in Iowa"), Jan Kimbrough ("The Glastonbury Cow Party"), Billie Jo Mason ("The Cargo"), Peres Owino ("Basketweaver"), Gretchen Somerfeld ("Face Value"), Janet Stilson ("Jaguar Trail"), and Kim Turner ("It Goes Like This").

Kouguell: What were some highlights from the three-day Lab?

Kaiden: Highlights included the chemistry, warmth and enthusiasm of the group, the bucolic setting in which serious and thoughtful individual meetings between writers and mentors took place, the outstanding, locally sourced, group meals presented by Wiawaka chef Meg, and evening conversations around a bonfire. Oh, and the weather was fabulous.

Kouguell: What is the next step for these writers selected for the Lab?

Kaiden: Writers are all revising their work and communicating with each other. They will use the feedback, resources, references, and friendships they took away from the Lab to further develop their scripts and their opportunities.

Kouguell: In addition to the one-on-one meetings, what other events took place?

Kaiden: There were three panel discussions in which the mentors addressed specific craft issues and general industry insight, informal conversations, group meals, as well as small, directed group conversations led by Nywift Board President Alexis Alexanian to address the challenges writers face in navigating the film world.

Kouguell: What do you feel were some of the most positive outcomes from the weekend in Lake George?

Kaiden: The most exciting outcome of this venture, for me, is uncovering and bringing to public attention the field of women screenwriters, particularly its enormous breadth and depth. The most positive outcomes of the weekend Lab, for me, include the sense of empowerment I believe the Lab gave the writers to continue their work and develop their projects, and the supportive community of writers we all discovered, which can only further our goals of ensuring that more of their stories will reach audiences.

Kouguell: Will the Writers Lab take place again next year?

Kaiden: Yes.

Kouguell: Anything else you’d like to add?

Kaiden: We were excited and delighted by the energy and enthusiasm at the Lab. It felt like an important event. It Was an important event. We discussed and debated issues of theme, tone, craft, structure, character, as well as production, representation, and target markets. The mentors were unbelievably focused, supportive and encouraging. Serious work was done. The writers left feeling, I think, that their voices had been heard, and that they should all continue to tell their stories. I think you will be hearing more from these writers and about these projects. And, although that would have been enough, everyone had a blast.

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell teaches screenwriting at Purchase College Suny, and presents international seminars on screenwriting and film. Author of Savvy Characters Sell Screenplays! and The Savvy Screenwriter, she is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide. www.su-city-pictures.com, http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

Nywift and Iris Announce Inaugural Participants for The Writers Lab, Funded by Meryl Streep

Back in April, I interviewed the directors of Nywift and Iris about their noted launch of The Writers Lab, a retreat for women screenwriters over 40, that received a substantial amount of funding from Meryl Streep. The 12 inaugural participants, listed below, were selected from a pool of over 3,500 applicants. The eight mentors for the weekend long September lab are Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Me and You and Everyone We Know), Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records), Lydia Dean Pilcher (Darjeeling Limited, The Talented Mr. Ripley), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights, Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent) and […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

Nywift and Iris Announce Inaugural Participants for The Writers Lab, Funded by Meryl Streep

Back in April, I interviewed the directors of Nywift and Iris about their noted launch of The Writers Lab, a retreat for women screenwriters over 40, that received a substantial amount of funding from Meryl Streep. The 12 inaugural participants, listed below, were selected from a pool of over 3,500 applicants. The eight mentors for the weekend long September lab are Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, Aquamarine), Caroline Kaplan (Time Out of Mind, Me and You and Everyone We Know), Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records), Lydia Dean Pilcher (Darjeeling Limited, The Talented Mr. Ripley), Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights, Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win, The Station Agent) and […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine_Director Interviews »

Meryl Streep’s Screenwriters Program Selects Inaugural Participants

Meryl Streep’s Screenwriters Program Selects Inaugural Participants
New York Women in Film & Television and the Iris film collective have selected 12 screenwriters for the inaugural year of Meryl Streep’s Writers Lab.

The program, which is fully funded by Streep, provides script development for female writers over the age of 40. The Writers Lab, presented in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America East, received over 3,500 submissions.

Here are the participants and their scripts: Sarah Bird, “Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen”; Vanessa Carmichael, “The American”; Tracy Charlton, “Raised Up”; Kellen Hertz, “Ashburn”; Anna Hozian, “Anchor Baby”; Lyralen Kaye, “St. John the Divine in Iowa”; Jan Kimbrough, “The Glastonbury Cow Party”; Billie Mason, “The Cargo”; Peres Owino, “Basketweaver”; Gretchen Somerfeld, “Face Value”; Janet Stilson, “Jaguar Trail”; and Kim Turner, “It Goes Like This.”

The event will take place September 18 to 20 in upstate New York at the Wiawaka Center. Iris is a collective of women filmmakers founded by Kyle Ann Stokes,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

LatinoBuzz: Interview with Elvis Nolasco from ABC's 'American Crime'

I must have met E.O. around the winter of ‘96. He was that kid from around the way that was in Spike Lee’s Clockers. We’d catch each other in the heights here and there but not often enough. Years later I decided to make my own short film. I sent Elvis the script. He was down. We shot with a few hundred dollars on the Canon Xl (the Excalibur of its time) on the stoops, brownstones and rooftops of Harlem, New York.

The film had some sweet humble success with festivals all things considering. I still don’t know how best to direct actors but Nolasco always had that razor sharp focus when it came to his craft. He made it seem effortless but I knew it came from years of discipline. He’s gone on to work with some of the best and after a few pilots that weren’t picked up, ABC will debut "American Crime," an anthology series based on class, race & gender politics created by Academy Award-winner John Ridley, on March 5th. Fast forward, 2015, there’s nothing like seeing your homeboy’s billboard on Sunset and Vine.

LatinoBuzz: Do you recall that first moment you wanted to be an actor?

Elvis: I can honestly say that...that moment of wanting to be an actor, was a moment that found me. After many early years of dancing, it was not until I arrived at George Washington High School, where I was faced with the options of what I wanted as my extra curriculum studies. Now, the only thing on that list that came close to dancing was "Introduction to Theatre". I said "well maybe I can get to dance in this class"... (Not So). It was my drama teacher Robert Stonebridge who after the first few weeks in his class he saw something in me, that I of course did not see in myself. He challenged me to play the role of Bill Starbuck in the play The Rainmaker. From that moment on, I found my voice, my body felt something magical and new, I felt comfortable, I finally was introduced to a new form of expression, the freedom of expression, the art to play. That was the moment and I never looked back. Thank You Mr. Stonebridge.

LatinoBuzz: What was the most discouraging moment you have ever experienced?

Elvis: That's a good question. I feel that the times I've had experience those moments, it has been when I've allowed outside voices to try and deter me from my path, my passion. Those voices can be very discouraging and destructive to one's journey. Today, I make sure to listen to the voice inside me, the voice of the heart, the voice of my passion, my truth.

LatinoBuzz: Who has been the biggest influence in your life and work?

Elvis: That's a long list, however I'll narrow it down to this many... My mother, my father, who have taught me the importance of hard work in a very dignified way. My aunts and uncles, who have taught me the value of family, music, dance and history. My good friend Robert (Fileo) Lewis, who has taught me the power of unconditional love. My brothers and sisters, especially my younger brother Yanko "Valentin", who is always, and I mean always busy and relevant, I'm telling you that kid don't stop. Work wise...Spike Lee, Darnell Martin, John Ridley...And tons of many, many more...

LatinoBuzz: What's your take on the ‘Whitewashing’ Hollywood has been accused of lately?

Elvis: The Whitewash of Hollywood is not new but the broader conversation that we are having about it is. The fact that people of color are not the only ones involved in the public conversation about it, is new. That's a good thing for everyone involved. Diversity in film and television benefits society as a whole.

LatinoBuzz: You did a one-man show based on Junot Diaz’ Purlizter Prize awarded ‘The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ – you didn’t find that daunting at all? We are talking a very celebrated novel.

Elvis: Oscar Wao? Daunting? Nah! When this project was brought to my attention, I was immediately in and up for the challenge. I, at that time (2010) had already read Junot Diaz' previous works, had read The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao two times, therefore I was of fan, a fan of the book and of Junot’s work. Now, having said that, to sit in a stuffy New York City basement at a theatre on 36th street with the great director Elise Thoron for two whole weeks (lost count of the hours) and together work on the adaptation of this magnificent, extraordinary and compelling Pulitzer prize winning novel...Ok, I think we can now revisit that word... ‘daunting”... Lol. We were able to narrow it down to an hour and 10 minutes and tell the beautiful story of Oscar De Leon and Yunior and audiences loved it. Truly a pleasure to take on this story on stage.

LatinoBuzz: I always have to ask this: Your dream role, dream director, dream co-star.

Elvis: Dream Role? I would say, playing Sidney Poitier on the big screen. Directors? Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Lee Daniels. Co-Star? Will Smith.

Do the social media lovin’!

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1Fozjcx

Twitter: @Eonolasco

Airing times and schedule for American Crime can be found here: http://abc.go.com/shows/american-crime

Written by Juan Caceres . LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow [At]LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 4.21, “She’s Come Undone”: Strong ep brings needed character, if not plot, growth

The Vampire Diaries, Season 4, Episode 21: “She’s Come Undone

Written by Michael Narducci and Rebecca Sonnenshine

Directed by Darnell Martin

Airs Thursdays at 8pm (Et) on the CW

This week, on The Vampire Diaries: Katherine has fun with Elena, Caroline has a heart to heart with her mom, and Bonnie has a plan

Most of this season of The Vampire Diaries has been plagued by one of a few missteps. First Elena lost her agency thanks to her sire-bonding to Damon, then Bonnie fell increasingly under the sway of the obviously ill-intentioned Professor Shane, and then finally, Elena switched off her emotions, acted like a brat, and lost whatever sympathy the audience had left for her. While many of the issues created by these poor decisions remain, fortunately at this point each of them has been addressed and corrected, though there’s little sense that the PtB ever saw them as problems.
See full article at SoundOnSight »

TV Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' Episode 421 - 'She's Come Undone'

TV Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' Episode 421 - 'She's Come Undone'
The Vampire Diaries Episode 421

“She’s Come Undone

Written By: Michael Narducci & Rebecca Sonnenshine

Directed By: Darnell Martin

Original Airdate: 2 May 2013

In This Episode...

Stefan and Damon are in the process of breaking Elena. Stefan doesn’t like to call it torture; he prefers “intervention.” Caroline doesn’t like this approach and tries one more time to be nice to Elena. elena responds with insults to Caroline about how her boyfriends always leave her and how her mom thinks she is a monster. Caroline snaps her neck to shut her up and tells Stefan to do whatever he wants.

The boys start by sending Damon into Elena’s mind to try to make her nostalgic and provoke an emotional response. Strike one. Next, they remove her daylight ring and taunt her with rays of sunshine. She burns, they put her out, over and over. She breaks free and throws open the drapes wide,
See full article at FEARnet »

Rebekah Taunts Matt in this Clip from The Vampire Diaries Episode 4.21 - She's Come Undone

During this extremely uneven Season 4 of "The Vampire Diaries," one thing that has been consistent is the chemistry between Claire Holt's Rebekah and Zach Roerig's Matt, which is on display in this clip from tomorrow's Episode 4.21, "She's Come Undone."

"The Vampire Diaries" Episode 4.21 - "She's Come Undone" (airs 5/2/13)

Let’S Make A Deal — Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) try a brutal new approach to provoke Elena (Nina Dobrev) into turning her humanity back on, and Caroline (Candice Accola) is frustrated when her attempt to intervene backfires. When Elena figures out a way to call the Salvatore brothers’ bluff, they call for backup from a surprising source.

Matt (Zach Roerig) gives Rebekah (Claire Holt) some unsolicited advice on her life choices, and she tries to help him in return. Caroline has a confusing and dangerous encounter with Klaus (Joseph Morgan), and Katherine (Nina Dobrev) is suspicious when
See full article at Dread Central »

Preview of The Vampire Diaries Episode 4.21 - She's Come Undone

With only three episodes remaining in Season 4 of "The Vampire Diaries," all roads lead to graduation day, and we have a preview of Ep. 4.21, "She's Come Undone," along with the synopses of Eps. 4.22, "The Walking Dead" (seriously?), and 4.23, "Graduation" (of course!).

"The Vampire Diaries" Episode 4.21 - "She's Come Undone" (airs 5/2/13)

Let’S Make A Deal — Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) try a brutal new approach to provoke Elena (Nina Dobrev) into turning her humanity back on, and Caroline (Candice Accola) is frustrated when her attempt to intervene backfires. When Elena figures out a way to call the Salvatore brothers’ bluff, they call for backup from a surprising source. Matt (Zach Roerig) gives Rebekah (Claire Holt) some unsolicited advice on her life choices, and she tries to help him in return. Caroline has a confusing and dangerous encounter with Klaus (Joseph Morgan), and Katherine (Nina Dobrev) is suspicious when
See full article at Dread Central »

‘Vampire Diaries’ Pics: Damon & Stefan Stage An Intervention For Elena

Damon & Stefan tie Elena up on the show’s May 2 episode — but it’s not as hot as it sounds.

Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) are more determined than ever to make Elena (Nina Dobrev) turn her humanity back on, and if these first-look photos from the May 2 episode of The Vampire Diaries are any indication, they’re done playing nice.

The Salvatore brothers are seen tying Elena to a chair and punishing her with shots of direct sunlight. While these photos are sure to fuel the internet’s “Ian and Nina for Fifty Shades” movement, it doesn’t look like Elena is having too much fun.

Official Description For Season 4, Episode 21: ‘She’s Come Undone

Let’S Make A Deal — Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) try a brutal new approach to provoke Elena (Nina Dobrev) into turning her humanity back on, and Caroline (Candice Accola
See full article at HollywoodLife »

New Vampire Diaries Season 4,Episode 21 Official Spoilers,Plotline Revealed By CW

New Vampire Diaries season 4,episode 21 official spoilers,plotline revealed by CW. Recently,CW released the new,official,synopsis/spoilers for their upcoming "Vampire Diaries" episode 21 of season 4. The episode is entitled, "She's Come Undone," and it sounds like a ton of interesting things will go down as both Damon and Stefan more aggressively try to get Elena to abandon her new, evil ways,and more. In the new,21st episode press release, Damon and Stefan are going to try a brutal ,new approach to provoke Elena into turning her humanity back on, and Caroline will get frustrated when her attempt to intervene, backfires. When Elena figures out a way to call the Salvatore brothers' bluff, they are going to call for backup from a surprising source. Matt will give Rebekah some unsolicited advice on her life choices, and she will try to help him in return. Caroline is going to
See full article at OnTheFlix »

Fall 1994

Columns Festival Roundup San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay, Los Angeles International Lesbian and Gay, Locarno, Montreal World Film Festival by Judith Halberstam, Diane Sippl and Scott Macaulay Production Update by Mary Glucksman Imho Mikki Halpin and Eric Saks on multimedia’s new players Short Ends Features In Images We Trust Hal Hartley chats with Jean-Luc Godard Net Profit Doug Block catches Hoop Dreams The State Of Things (Part One) Mary Glucksman on the smaller independent distributors Likes And Dislikes Charlotte Macleod follows Darnell Martin’s I Like it Like That Breaking And Entering Diane Sippl talks to Charles Burnett about The …
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine_Director Interviews »
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