July 2, 2008

A Conversation with Patricia Rozema, Director of Kit Kittredge

I attended the junket for Kit Kittredge recently. Here is some of the conversation director Patricia Rozema. (Not all the questions are from me- but thought you'd enjoy the answers)

How did you get involved with the film?

I was approached by Jill Goldstein at HBO Films. I had worked with her at Miramax. I spoke with Colin Callendar and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and they gave me the script which already had Abigail Breslin attached. I was looking for a children's movie and then they mentioned the American Girl doll connection and I said no, I'm not doing a doll movie. But then I read the script and realized it's not a doll movie- it's about a kid in the depression. I realized that those dolls are embodiments of characters and it suddenly seemed really attractive to me to direct something about a family that could lose it all. It spoke to me as a parent. This idea that there is so much more to hang onto than physical wealth.
It's ok not to just provide happiness in film. Ithink that kids are underestimated in their capacity to feel in a lot of movies. They get a steady diet of fantasy or super strength super wealth or super popularity with the action movie or the princess movies. It seemed to be a good balancer to provide them with something that showed a little gravity and loss and that also values writing and journalism. I was a journalist for a while and I can't imagine giving my kids something better than the wish to write well.
What are your feelings on why there are there so few women directors?
I have had good luck. I don't really know how to answer that and I am the kind of mind that if I think about glass ceilings and why people won't watch female protagonists then I just want to go home and lie down. So i can't think that way. All i can think about is that there are a few films I've seen made by women that have inspired me to carry on.
Which ones?
When I first saw Jane Campion's The Piano I realized that my top ten list had all been men. I didn't think I don't have a penis so I can't make movies, I just wanted to make movies. I've turned down projects that would have made me a lot more money and had a lot bigger audience in the past because they didn't inspire me. To do that sucks the life out of you and it takes your energy away. I hope to be one of those filmmakers who can go from very small to bigger and mainstream. I have a huge pop streak in me and I have an experimental streak in me. I'll just shift around.
Discussing the success of the HBO drama Tell Me You Love Me which she directed this year.
There are certain conversations that you have with adults in the room and certain conversations that you have when children are in the room. Adults have to allowed to speak frankly amongst themselves and that's what Tell Me You Love Me was about but there has to be respectful communication with kids and that's what this was. Maybe because I had done Tell Me You Love Me I knew I wouldn't be typed as a little kids director if I do this one. I feel like I can relate to both those sides because I have two daughters 4 and 12. I'm proud of Tell Me You Love Me. I didn't write it. I was able to do a polish on the script so I feel like I was at least able to guide it in a direction. It was very much a collective effort on Kitt Kittredge but Tell Me You Love Me is very much Cynthia's Mort's brain child.
We don't have enough girl heroines in our culture and Kitt is one. What does that mean to you?
If she can be a role model and can be taken seriously by real live girls today I could just die and go to heaven. She's a decent human being, she's hard working, generous, and still has a sense of humor. It's an honor to be able to engage children and I don't take it lightly.