October 24, 2007

October 24, 2007

Women & Hollywood interviews Alison Eastwood, director of Rails & Ties (opening Friday)

Alison Eastwood's makes her directing debut with the small budget ($7m) drama Rails & Ties. The film is a powerful story of love and loss. Both Marcia Gay Harden and Kevin Bacon give Oscar caliber performances.

I was able to ask the director a couple of questions about this film and how it feels to be a woman director in Hollywood.

W&H: What was it about this script that made you want to direct?

AE: Originally, I had attached myself as a producer and after a couple of years living with the script and working with the writer (Micky Levy- a woman) I just grew to love these characters. I found them very real and touching and even though Kevin Bacon's character Tom is a very shut down person, I know people like that. I liked the ideas, the subject matter. Everyone deals with tragedy and loss but the idea is that through unsavory circumstances you can still find a way to have connections.
W&H: This is an intimate almost theatrical film not usually released by the major studios nowadays. How did you get this made?
AE: It was initially financed through Warner Independent. The situation with WB distributing came about because Warner Independent is a much smaller division and they had a few films coming out this year and they really weren't capable of distributing and marketing the film. I really lobbied for it to come out this year, films that are more character driven and deep usually come out in the fall, and I just didn't want to wait until next year. I'm lucky because a big studio is willing to get behind a small film with great actors.
W&H: This summer both of Lawrence Kasdan's sons had films come out and I asked myself where are the daughters? (Sophia Coppola is the most prominent and only director daughter I can think of) As the daughter of a director (father is Clint Eastwood) what was it like becoming a director?
AE: It felt natural. Subconsciously, I didn't want to get into directing because I've lived in the shadow and was trying to be an actress. Somewhere I thought I just don't want to go there. But I felt inspired by the story and it felt natural. He (Clint) always made it look easy, enjoyable and collaborative. I know it's not easy.
W&H: Why aren't there more women directing films?
AE: I think the biggest problem is that Hollywood is a boy's club and has been for a long time. It's shifting but we need to keep pushing ahead and developing projects and sticking together. I don't want to sound like a feminist, but we have to band together.
W&H: You don't want to sound like a feminist?
AE: Well I don't really like that term. it's always sounded a little radical to me. I certainly believe in equal rights for women but I also believe there is a way of doing things more subtly. The media makes it a negative term and I feel things can be done without being in your face or angry but showing by example.
In Hollywood, there are more women producers & actresses commanding bigger roles and bigger salaries and have production deals and production companies. It's just a matter of continuing to move forward and it will take a long time but since the 30s and 40s we've come a long way.
It's just a matter of doing good work. It doesn't matter if you are a man or woman, if your work is shabby you're not going to get any respect.
W&H: Did you bring different things to this script because you are a woman?
AE: I don't think a man would have picked this script. I found it to be emotional and touching. It meant a lot to me.
Thoughts: I was a bit disturbed by the feminist comment, but more about her conception that women are commanding higher salaries and better roles. Am I crazy or is this not true? Also, she says we've come a long way since the 30s and 40s- well come on of course we have. The movie business was so young then and the funny thing is that women had more power in the early days of Hollywood. If you are interested in learning more about those days check out Cari Beauchamp's fantastic book Without Lying Down about Frances Marion.

"Winners of the Lifetime Movie Network's Student Filmmaker Competition have been selected by judges Jennifer Lopez, Lauren Shuler Donner and Gale Ann Hurd. First-place winner is Liliana Greenfield-Sanders for Anna; second prize went to Jessica Marie Sutherland for Seven Turn. The pics will premiere on LMN and LMN.tv. (Variety)

The British Independent Film Awards nominees were announced. Women nominees include:
BEST DIRECTOR: Sarah Gavron - Brick Lane
BEST ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway - Becoming Jane; Tannishtha Chatterjee - Brick Lane; Sophia Myles - Hallam Foe; Kierston Wareing - It's A Free World...; Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR/ACTRESS (combined category) Samantha Morton - Control; Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal

Hampton's Film Festival's winners include Birgit Moller's drama about a fading German model, Valerie which won the Golden Starfish best feature award. Other winners include:
Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue's Iraq War soldier portrait Body of War the audience award for best documentary, Chris Kraus' German female prisoner tale Four Minutes won the audience award for best narrative feature. Matthew Galkin's documentary I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA won the Golden Starfish Documentary Feature Film Award. Marisa Zanotti's At The End of the Sentence took home the Golden Starfish Short Film Award. (Hollywood Reporter)

Alexandra Pelosi is developing a fictionalized version of her HBO documentary Journeys with George about being on the campaign trail with George Bush. She was hired by uber-screenwriter Steve Zaillian for the project. (Reuters via Hollywood Reporter)
Bush Documentary Inspires Political Romance
King's Men Failure Spurs Project (LA Times)

Jessica Biel has been cast as the lead in Die a Little based on the novel by Megan Abbott. (Variety)

Ashley Judd stars in Helen the English language film debut of Mostly Martha director Sandra Nettelbeck. "Judd plays a woman who gives the illusion of leading a perfect life but actually harbors a dark secret." (Variety)

Shirley MacLaine will star in Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, for Canadian TV. Pictures also stars Hannah Endicott-Douglas stars as the young Anne Shirley, Barbara Hershey as the grown-up Anne Shirley. (Variety)

Tube Tonight
John Cusack still has a strong place in my heart. See him in the the classic Say Anything (8pm, FMC)
Guilty pleasure show Work Out serves up a special on how they spend their down time. (11pm, Bravo)