Thursday, February 28, 2013


Starting today, I’ll be doing a weekly post suggesting five films for you to put in your Netflix Queue.  Why Netflix, you ask?  And why am I bossing you around and telling you what to queue?  Well, because it can help women directors.  

Netflix is very tapped into the data they collect from their customers—what do customers queue, what do they watch to the end, what do they pause, what do they rate highly... You get the picture.  They use this data to make decisions about content licensing and production. So, if you put women-directed films in your queue and you tell your friends to do the same, we just might start to have an impact on what Netflix chooses to license, and maybe even what they greenlight for their slate of original programming.  Here’s a little more about how they use their data. Shall we see if we can create some change?

Since this is the first Thursday after the Oscars, let’s start with five films that could have/should have/or did receive some big awards.  In no particular order...

  1. The Loneliest Planet (dir Julia Loktev) - This is a beautiful, meditative film about a couple backpacking through the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia.  It’s pretty much an art film; so Broads, don’t expect a fast-paced jaunt.  Sit back and enjoy the scenery on the biggest screen in your home. And did I mention Gael García Bernal is in it?  Hani Furstenberg is, too, and she plays a great solid female character. This film was nominated for Gotham and Spirit awards and played a number of big international festivals (Grand Prize winner at AFI Fest).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Can We Talk? Legendary Funny Lady and Fashion Cop Joan Rivers

Ok, It's Wednesday and the Oscars were on Sunday. By now the water cooler should have some other topic to be buzzing about but I work from home, so what do I know? Do people still stand around water coolers? As a person who works in the industry, the Oscars should be all about the films, but let's face it, I love looking at pretty dresses. As much as I like to discuss the merit of each individual film, the snubs and surprises, there is still part of me that is a catty teenager ripping apart the pretty people for their poor fashion decisions.

Thankfully, I am not alone. There is this show called "Fashion Police" and at the helm speaking out for our inner fifteen year old is legendary funny lady Joan Rivers. While watching the post Oscar special I started thinking about how polished Ms. Rivers is as a comedian, she has more that quadrupled her "ten thousand hours" in show biz. She has a cabinet full of material that she can just draw on at any moment and adapt to current events and celebrities.

Can we talk about her career? When I was a child she was a fixture on late night television and afternoon talk shows and even then she was a seasoned comedian. Sometime around 1986 My mother snuck me into one of her performances in the Catskills, the next morning I saw her at the hotel and told her I liked her routine as well as her performance in "Muppets Take Manhattan." I was probably too young to really appreciate the humor but I remember it well.

I rediscovered how brillant Joan is after watching the documentary "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"

She is someone who has had great successes and terrible tragedies but has carved out a career out of speaking about the lives of women and everything from our insecurities to our inner bitches.

But I can talk all I want, you have to hear it from her. I've compiled some clips spanning her career.

Also check out her special on Showtime this month. Joan Rivers: Don't Start with Me

Broad Humor Channel wants to put the YOU in YouTube

Have you checked out the Broad Humor's YouTube Channel lately? Are you a subscriber?

The YouTube Channel will now feature playlists of previous winners, projects from Alumni and friends as well as up and coming funny females.

In addition, there is are new compilations called "Broad History" which will focus on some of the female legends of comedy and supplements to the blog content.

If you have a project you would like to feature, a link to past festival content or ideas for a feature, please feel free to comment or PM me and I will put it in the queue.

In the meantime, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE so you can stay up to date on all that is happening :)

Laura Thies Interview on Wellywood Woman Blog

Just read a great interview with Laura Thies on the Wellywood Woman blog out of New Zealand that supports the development of women's films.  Laura Thies is a German director who is working outside the German film system for a bunch of reasons that resonated with my experience of LA.  In any case, she coined a phrase, "doom-loop" that applies equally here.

So a lot of people from the industry have told me not to make this movie independently because I won't have a chance of showing it! But if I go with the system, I will be occupied for the next two years with finding a producer, then finding a TV-channel and state funding, which is a doom-loop because you can't get one without the other!
So they are going for crowdfunding instead of the "industry" and the director has made a fun crowdfunding video of her next project with the screenwriter.
Read the whole post at Wellywood Woman blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Catch the interview
with Former President of NBC on KPCC

How “Must See TV” turned into “Must Flee TV”.

NBC just had their worst sweeps week ever, ranking below ABC, CBS, Fox and Spanish Language Univision. Ouch. What’s happened to the network giant who used to be the hip cool kid that millions of viewers wanted to hang out with every week? Former NBC President Warren Littlefield gives the inside scoop in his new book Top of the Rock, Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. I heard Littlefield on KPCC yesterday morning where he offered some juicy tidbits that are definitely worth a listen. Not only does he talk about NBC, but also offers his views on what’s happening to network television in general. When it comes to comedy, Littlefield talks about the secret ingredient that made Frasier such a huge hit, who was on the short list to play Elaine on Seinfeld before Julia Louis-Dreyfus clenched the role and how Cheers was shockingly slow to get off the starting blocks. The interview is just under 17 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Before Hunger Games and Silver Linings, Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence Was an Ozark Mountain Girl in the Female Driven Drama “Winter’s Bone”

Jennifer Lawrence really is a great actress, and her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook” is wonderful. Even in “The Hunger Games” she gives a quiet, reserved character so much emotion without even speaking. Without her that film would have been another young adult love saga.  My only issue with “The Hunger Games” is that the film created so many Jennifer Lawrence fans who, when posed with the question, “Have you seen Winter’s Bone?” respond with a look I’d imagine one would have if they were asked who the 23rd president was. Benjamin who? So, while I’m glad she’s being appreciated, I don’t believe if you’re over the age of 16, you should be able to call yourself a fan of hers until you’ve seen “Winter’s Bone.”

“Winter’s Bone” is a phenomenal movie about a young girl (Jennifer Lawrence) whose home is going to be taken away when her drug-dealer father fails to show up to court. She has to find him, dead or alive, in order to save her home and keep her younger siblings in her care. As I’ve said before, Jennifer Lawrence is great in this film but John Hawkes is also in this movie, and if you don’t know who he is I recommend finding out. He’s an outstanding actor who’s yet to receive the appreciation he deserves.

Top 10 Female Best Director Oscar Nominees

Although all of the Best Director nominees at this year's Academy Awards were men, I would like to take a moment to celebrate all the women in that category in previous years. So, here's a list of the Top 10 Female Best Director Oscar Nominees.






Saturday, February 23, 2013

Will he ever lighten up?

And The Oscar (rarely) Goes To… The Comedy.

We all know that comedy is hard. Writing it. Performing it. Directing it. So why does the Academy snub it? Last I counted, only 10 comedies have ever won an Oscar for Best Picture. Now I know that the nice folks at the Academy value a good joke. You only have to look as far as the list of comedic hosts to see that. Imagine watching the Oscars without Billy or Whoopie or Ellen or Seth. A dreadful snore, right? So why when it comes to handing out the golden statues for Best Picture or Best Director or Best Screenplay the Academy folks seem to lose their sense of humor? John Farr sheds some light on the subject and shares a list of comedies that he thinks deserved an Oscar nod.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Even though I went to film school, I love this site. It’s truly geared to the indie and DYI filmmaker, with information varying from equipment, to film festivals, competitions, writing, editing, industry news and even the never ending question: “Should you go to film school?” 

Like I said, I already did go to film school and my experience was priceless to me (only metaphorically speaking, there was a very real price tag to my education, thanks Mom!) But in the age of the digital revolution, there’s so much that can be done without having to sell a vital organ to pay the bill.

Nevertheless, it’s a great site that hopefully will inspire and empower some indie female filmmakers everywhere to go out and make a movie.

For the cinematographers out there, they even offer a free eBook, The DSLR Cinematography Guide.

Check it out for yourselves and make sure to sign up for their newsletter, like them on Facebook and follow on twitter.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Seven-Minute Itch

As we gear up for another year of film submissions, I want to take a minute to talk about the 7-Minute Itch. After 8 years of looking at hundreds of short films, films that started well but then sagged and died despite all the good work that went into them, I think many of the failures of comedy are in the structure of the overall script. In a short film, somewhere around 7 minutes, the story needs to take a turn. A big turn, to change the game entirely for the audience. It doesn't have to be a Hollywood change where the stakes for the main character suddenly escalate, thought it can. It could be any turn that wakes up the viewer lulled into "knowing" what the film was about and ready for it to be done. Curiosity is aroused. Instead of being ready for it to end, I want to see where it goes from there, at least for another 7 minutes. Then wrap it up. Or take yet another turn, a different turn, and then I'll be with you to the end of your half-hour. (Stories over a half-hour long need even more in terms of story, with almost as much depth as a feature, and they have a very hard time finding a home in film festivals.)

CAVEAT: When you hear 7 minutes, do not think of a stopwatch. Think of a cigarette. Cigarettes burn at different speeds depending on how much and how often you puff on them, but if a cigarette stays lit, it has a maximum span before it fizzles and goes out. If you want to keep smoking, you have to light another. A completely new cigarette. Likewise, your story after your 7-minute turn, should feel like a new movie. You can stretch it a bit if you are bringing your film to a bang-up finish. However, if you add another five minutes of interesting complications in the same vein as the rest, it causes a kind of despair: I'm tired of this. Let me go! You may love the charm of the moment, but if I feel the mental and emotional equivalent of an attack of claustrophobia, your charming scene becomes torture to me, no matter how well done.

 EXCEPTION: If you are making a film that is more experimental, an artistic deconstruction of comedy, or a recursive philosophical parody (we had a French film like that the first year that was 26 minutes) all bets are off. But a discussion of comedy and aesthetics has to be for another day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Yoo-Hoo, You Forgot Me, the Woman Who Invented the Sitcom

Yesterday's Top Ten list and the (sad) exclusion of Roseanne and I Love Lucy from the list made me remember a documentary I watched over 3 years ago.  Chronicling the life of the eminent triple-threat hyphenate screenwriter-actress-producer Gertrude Berg,Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg celebrates her seminal achievements and reaffirms her status as a broadcasting pioneer. It’s beyond incredible how someone can be on top and eventually suffer from almost complete obscurity. Imagine Oprah being forgotten 60 years from now. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Berg. Her name rarely gets mentioned as a pioneer, yet as Yoo-Hoo shows, she can lay claim to having invented the sitcom with her popular show.
Director Akiva Kempner weaves together archival footage from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s with insightful interviews of an eclectic bunch of talking heads, including Berg’s co-stars, family, and fans, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor Ed Asner, producers Norman Lear (All in the Family) and Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties) and NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg – all of whom reveal just what an extraordinary woman Berg was. Kempner also includes excerpts of audio from Berg’s well-loved radio show, The Goldbergs, which launched her writing and acting career when it aired in 1929 (just one month after the stock market crash), as well as rare footage from the CBS television show which followed in 1949. The television version of The Goldbergs, a situation comedy about a middle class Jewish family, earned Berg the first Best Actress Emmy in history and a tremendous fan following.

Berg paved the way for the acceptance of Jewish characters on radio and television. The Goldbergs were a huge hit on radio in the Depression era, when there was an abundance of domestic anti-Semitism, manifested by restrictive real estate covenants, university quotas and overt discrimination. Viewers accepted the overt Jewishness of matriarch Molly and her family. Yes, they were Americans, but Molly spoke with a Yiddish inflection, the mannerisms were ethnic, the family celebrated Passover, went to synagogue and at least one episode alluded to the Holocaust. Berg was able to pull off the most positive show about Jews because the Goldbergs were a warm, struggling family that people could identify with. You didn’t have to be Jewish to love Molly.
Yoo-Hoo reveals what Berg represented to middle class families, the Jewish community and how she re-defined motherhood in the mid-20th century. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is attributed with having said that it wasn’t he, but Molly Goldberg, that got America through the Great Depression. In Yoo-Hoo, Kempner attempts to rescue Berg from obscurity. Unfortunaltey, while the documentary is well-researched, it’s mostly unchallenging and barely touches upon the dark side of Berg’s life. Berg was a complicated, labile woman, whose own mother never recovered from the early death of Berg’s brother and eventually ended up in a psychiatric hospital. Her father never accepted or supported her artistic endeavors. Kempner is less successful at delineating the real Gertrude Berg, who, unlike her alter ego Molly Goldberg, was not the homey, Yiddish mama from the Bronx tenements. Berg was a wealthy, stylish powerhouse who not only created one of the most popular TV shows of her era but stood up to the Red-baiting of the 1950s and personally penned 12,000 scripts.
Yoo-Hoo is more than an enjoyable, edifying journey, showcasing the charming personality and extraordinary work of a television legend. Beneath the pleasingly nostalgic facade of a well-paced and fun documentary, there’s a rich historical tapestry interwoven into the narrative of Berg’s life, the effect of the World Wars and, most significantly, the Red Scare and House on Un-American Activities’ blacklist rendered starkly against the backdrop of Berg’s ostensibly-carefree family comedy. Moreover, Berg is, or should be, an icon to be lauded and remembered, not locked away in the vault of television history. Berg is nothing if not an example of an exceptional feminist ahead of her time who fashioned an incredible career and whose work touched millions. So yeah, a woman invented the sitcom. Who knew, right?

Check out more clips HERE

Monday, February 18, 2013

Top 10 Sitcoms Created by Women

With the recent cancellations of Ben & Kate (created by Dana Fox) and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 (created by Nahnatchka Khan), sitcoms created by women aren't having a great 2013 so far. But, that doesn't mean that women don't create funny, successful sitcoms, so here's a list of the top 10 sitcoms ever created by women, according to me. (*Some of these shows were co-created with a man, but I won't count that against them.)

10) Hot in Cleveland (Suzanne Martin)

9) The New Adventures of Old Christine (Kari Lizer)

8) Designing Women (Linda Bloodworth-Thomason)

7) Suburgatory (Emily Kapnek)

6) The Nanny (Fran Drescher, Peter Marc Jacobson)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Isabel Allende and Storytelling

Here is a great TED talk given by Isabel Allende in 2007. If you write, if you care about women's stories, you spend 18 minutes watching this wonderful, passionate, funny talk.