Tuesday, April 30, 2013

WIGS Channel. Where Women Go to Laugh, Cry & Create Content.

Julia Stiles in the WIGS series entitled BLUE
Imagine if Lifetime married HBO and had a baby. That's WIGS Channel. It was launched a year ago on YouTube and offers stunning broadcast-quality web dramas and comedies for and about women. 

Each series follows a strong, interesting female character played by well-known actresses such as Julia Stiles, Jennifer Beals, Allison Janney, Dakota Fanning, Maura Tierney, and Rosanna Arquette. (The list goes on!)  What's even more exciting is that women are behind the camera too. Apparently the channel's two male creators, Rodrigo Garcia and Jon Avnet, didn't get the Hollywood memo to "not hire women" because WIGS is wall-to-wall women in the creative department. Garcia and Avnet recruited women writers and directors such as  Marta Kauffman, Amy Lippman, Rose Troche and Lesli Linka Glatter to contribute.

Still in its infancy, WIGS has already seen great success and in February partnered with FOX on a multi-year programming, marketing and distribution pact. The idea is that WIGS will act as an incubator for original content that can be programmed on FOX or other networks. This is major on so many levels -- the biggest being that the networks are now questioning the value of the long-standing tradition of shooting expensive pilots to determine new shows for their fall slates. They're beginning to focus more and more on this type of "trial" or "incubator" platform to develop their content. The fact that the FOX "boys club" has chosen to partner with the WIGS "girl's club" for this trial platform is beyond fantastic. 

In light of WIGS' rapid and undeniable success, I think an amazing shift is happening as the web becomes the great level playing field where women can finally find their footing in this crazy industry. WIGS is proof-- Build the web series. They will come.

For additional info on WIGS, go to www.watchwigs.com & www.youtube.com/wigs

Monday, April 29, 2013

Top 10 Female SNL Writers

In a 2011 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Jane Curtin discussed how misogynistic SNL was when she was there.

(this video isn't the best quality, but it has the clip that I wanted to share)

Still, there have been many wonderfully talented women on their writing staff, and I'd like to dedicate this week's top 10 list to them. Many of the women on this list went on to create sitcoms after leaving SNL.
Here are the Top 10 Female SNL Writers:

10) J.J. Philbin

9) Laura Kightlinger

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shot Lister - An App for Shot Listing

Still From 'Unsolved'
Broken arm and all, I'm in the middle of directing a short film. An ambitious, period piece, kind of elaborate short film. I have often kicked myself in the butt looking at footage after the fact and wishing I had gotten another angle, or remembered a shot I planned that I didn't get on set.

I have often made shot lists, or stick figure storyboards. These all work to some extent, but feel like more work than helpful tool. Well, trough the wonder that is Twitter I found out about this great app for the iPad and iPhone. 

Check out the video and see for yourself how flexible this tool can be. My DP simply loved being able to reference what I wanted on the fly. You can buy it for $13.99 at the App store.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I'm back with another round of five movie suggestions for your Netflix queue.  No real theme this week, just some good films, and a tv series, that I think are worth checking out.  Let's get queueing!

Top of the Lake (dir Jane Campion, 2013)  Netflix says: "When pregnant, 12-year-old Tui tries to kill herself in a freezing New Zealand lake, Detective Robin Griffin has plenty of questions for the girl. But when Tui suddenly disappears, Griffin finds herself knee-deep in small-town secrets. With Elisabeth Moss and Holly Hunter."  I was really surprised to see this premium series from The Sundance Channel on Netflix so quickly (I hope that's a new trend!).  The great Jane Campion together with the great Elisabeth Moss and Holly Hunter-- I cannot wait to start watching this!

Friends with Kids (dir Jennifer Westfeldt, 2011)  Netflix says: "Best friends Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) decide that the way to have kids without sacrificing their social lives or careers is to raise a child together platonically. But romance and other complications interfere with their perfect plan. With Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Megan Fox and Edward Burns."  I love this cast!  And I liked this movie because it stayed clear of most of the over-the-top RomCom tropes that have ruined this genre for me over the last several years.  It's not perfect, but I appreciate that it takes a more realistic approach that I can actually relate to...and it has my dream cast.  Did I mention how great the cast is? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Union Woman Unite!

It's about time tinseltown became an old girls club. If the new InterGuild Working Group has its way, that'll happen sooner rather than later. The InterGuild Working Group is a brand-spankin' new group that provides a way for the women of the WGA, PGA, DGA, SAG-AFTRA and Alliance of Women Directors to network, post job listings, share information and support each other's progress in the industry. With the mantra of "a rising tide carries all boats," it's aim is to increase opportunities for women in all aspects of film.  Literally just one week old, the InterGuild Working Group is still in the early stages, but they have big plans to host inter-guild panels and events. For now, the only place you can find them is on Facebook. So join them there and then brace yourself for the female power tidal wave.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: "Morning Glory" is Not Your Typical RomCom

In the mass of romantic comedies, there’s one film that’s been pegged as one, but really isn’t. That film is “Morning Glory” (2010) and I’m really excited to talk about it. Now there is a guy-meets-girl situation in the film, but the reason I’d never label it as rom-com is that the romance element could be removed and it wouldn’t hurt the film. It’s not ABOUT finding love, it’s a film about a woman trying to make it to where she wants to be in her career and the risks she takes to get there.

Also, the romance in the film is there to develop her character and bring out her insecurities about finding a guy who can accept how much she loves her work. It’s truly a character film, and it’s one of the funniest I’ve seen in the last few years.

The film was written by Aline Brosh McKenna, and seriously the writing is really great. The characters are wonderful and the overall story just shows the incredible work ethic women are capable of without losing their own identities. And as I said before, it’s really funny.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Carol Burnett is Awesome

Last week, Carol Burnett (who turns 80 this Friday) appeared on Larry King Now to promote her new book, Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story. During the interview, Larry asked her how The Carol Burnett Show came to be. Check it out:

If she's not a trailblazer, I don't know who is. Here are the Top 10 Reasons Carol Burnett is Awesome:

10) No Frills Airline

Friday, April 19, 2013

Doing the Math on Women Screenwriters - NYTVF/Comedy Central Pilot Competition

The NYTVF/Comedy Central comedy pilot competition just announced its 25 finalists.  Once again the number of women's names on the list is bad enough to shock any fair-minded person.  Or maybe art is different from everyday life and more like sport where women have less writing "muscle tissue" than men.  That's the only explanation.  Women may be over half of the overall population, but we are apparently not so good with language and words, or we are simply not as funny as men.

Or, maybe, that yardstick being used by male and female judges is neither inches nor centimeters, but male-imeters.  I don't know.  But only two of the 25 were all-female in creation (and possibly a third, some names being gender neutral...).  It's a little better when you look at the overall numbers 10 out of the 50 names being female. These numbers are actually pretty high for the numbers we have been seeing coming out of contests recently, but it is depressing to even think about calling them good.

What we don't know is what percentage of the submissions were female.  Perhaps the finalist selections perfectly reflects the ratio of submissions in this contest.  However, that defense cuts two ways. If you use it as a defense of the lower numbers of women included here, then you must allow for it as offense when the number of women does not reflect the proportion of, say, Dramatist Guild or Directors Guild membership by gender.  And this does not even begin to touch on structural barriers that might make a female writer with a healthy sense of self-worth decide, after seeing the gender bias in the film industry, to take her ideas elsewhere.

IndieReign – Self-Distribution

I’m still one handed, so forgive me for typos. If this sentence makes no sense to you, read last week’s post. Let’s say you completed a film, played some festivals and now you’re ready to show it to the world. You can always post it on Youtube and Vimeo for free. And there it is, out there, for the world to see. But let’s say you’d like to make some money, charge a fee, because after all, your film cost money and time and art has value. Well, look no further and check out IndieReign. The site is easy to navigate, it’s a non-exclusive license, so you can always sell your film elsewhere, and, most important, it empowers you, the filmmaker. You control the price, you promote it, you keep the money.

*Do you have a helpful resource you’d like to promote? Do you know about a great resource to share with the Broads? Contact me to be a part of helpful resource Friday.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Big World for Little Movies

Short films are the new black. Now that every person with a pulse has at least one viewing device within arm's reach at all times, there's a big appetite for little movies. Short films are being consumed at festivals, through pod casts, on the internet...they're everywhere. This is good news for short filmmakers. But with all this growth comes more choices. Which contests are right for you? Is a pod cast better? Should you post your short on YouTube or Vimeo? Or is it better to post it on your personal web page and use social networking to drive an audience to it? How do short film distributors figure in to today's landscape? And what about the festivals? What is a "festival" short? Is there a difference between a "Sundance Short" and a "Cannes Short"?  Is it better to shoot a single short film for festivals or develop and produce a webseries? Phew. Luckily all this and more will be discussed at an event called - It's a Big World for Little Movies: The Complete Guide to Short Film Content. It's happening at the EGYPTIAN THEATER, THURSDAY, APRIL 18th @ 7:30. 
Thomas Ethan Harris will moderate a panel of short-film business and programming leaders to talk about trends, current channels of distribution and the future of short-film exposure. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to http://tinyurl.com/dyenn9s

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Top 10 Excuses for Not Hiring a Woman Director (That I Imagine Executives Think...)

How do executives think? Who knows. 'Tis a mystery. But, with more women than men graduating film school these days, there has to be some reason why women are still such a minority in the world of feature film directors. The Top 10 Excuses for Not Hiring a Woman Director (That I Imagine Executives Think...):

10) We probably need extra insurance for her women things. Does our policy cover boobs?

9) Can women even have jobs?

8) Doesn't she have children to take care of? Who is taking care of her children?

7) How can the crew be expected to listen to her and look at her boobs?

6) You get what you pay for, and there's no way we can pay a woman as much as a man.

The Play's the Thing... Classes in Playwriting

I'm planning a series of playwriting class modules.  I come from the theater, and long before I started the Broad Humor Film Festival, I wrote, directed, produced, taught and won awards in theater. Broad Humor may be about screen writing and directing, but the root of those arts is in theater. Having read every Broad Humor screenplay submission for seven years now, I think there is a great deal that screenwriters can learn from playwriting. I want to share some of those insights and offer some tools. I'm planning on limiting class size to 6. Let me know if you want to take part.

So why plays and not screenplays?

For writers, plays are the best form to learn about creating character and conflict, and to understand the shape of both comedy and drama. Their scale keeps the focus on the human element of the story. A play is also complete in a way that a screenplay can never be. In a play script, the writer controls not just plot and dialogue but setting and the crucial element of time. The timing happens on the page, not in the cutting room.  The build of drama and the release of comedy remain in the writer’s hands.  This is why many film industry leaders prefer to read plays rather than spec screenplays as a way of measuring a writer’s skills.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Adventures in Brazil

Carol Costa, Julia Camara and Renata Hallada
Greetings from Brazil. My post is a day late and not going to be exactly what I had in mind. I came here to attend the premiere of my latest feature Open Road (titled Angie in Brazil) as I mentioned last week. I had great plans for this trip, multiple meetings about other projects, my crowdfunding campaign, time with family and friends, and attending all of the events related to the movie. Like they say, "if you want to make God laugh, make plans." I fell down the stairs at the movie theater in Rio, just as myself, the director and the producer were getting ready to introduce the film. An embarrassing tumble and a fractured arm left me now typing right handed (I'm left handed) on my iPad. So, the only helpful resource I have for you this week is some advice from an injured filmmaker:

1-Learn to go with the flow. I was forced to slow down severely, this may be a blessing as I was near exhaustion.

2-Trust the people around you and be ready to receive love and help. (This is still a challenge for me, but I wouldn't have gotten through a full night at the ER in a strange city without my mom and my friend and producing partner Ricardo Rihan.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Every week I do this post I usually put at least one documentary in the mix, but it's always so hard to pick just one because women directors are responsible for making SO many great docs.  For those who don't know, it is the one area of film where the number of women directors is encouraging, instead of depressing.  As pointed out in the executive summary of the 2012 Sundance Institute and Women In Film-commissioned study Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers

Documentary filmmaking is an arena where women directors thrive. From 2002 to 2012, 41.1% of Documentary Competition directors were female. Six years of the 11-year sample demonstrated that females comprised 40-50% or more of Competition directors. Even the lowest percentage of female Competition directors (25%) is still higher than the Festival norm for narrative competition films (22.2%).

Although the study only looks at Sundace films, it is still a significant gauge of what is happening in the larger marketplace.  So, in celebration of all the talented women directors making docs, I have decided that this week's post will be an all-doc extravaganza!  

Even though I've seen all five of these films, and think they're great, I have refrained from commenting after each one because I'm pretty sure those comments would quickly become redundant in the best possible way- as all these stories are fascinating, heartbreaking, brave, and at least 3 out of five made me cry. 

Girl Model (dir Ashley Sabin & David Redmon, 2011)  Netflix says: "An unflinching look at the modeling industry, focusing on a conflicted American scout -- herself a former model -- who recruits poverty-stricken adolescent girls from Russia to work in Japan." 

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (dir Constance Marks, 2011)  Netflix says: "Beloved by millions of children, Elmo is an international icon. But few people know the soft-spoken man behind the furry red monster: Kevin Clash. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary follows Clash's remarkable career as a puppeteer."

Monday, April 08, 2013

Top 10 Episodes of Mary Tyler Moore

With the recent announcement of a reunion of all the ladies of Mary Tyler Moore on Hot in Cleveland, I decided there's no better time to do a Mary-themed Top 10 list. So, here it is: the Top 10 Episodes of Mary Tyler Moore.

10) WJM Tries Harder (Season 4, Episode 16) When Mary visits the Channel 8 newsroom, she sees WJM in a different light.

9) Feeb (Season 2, Episode 16) The best part is the end of the episode, when Mary explains the variations of the word "feeb" to Murray.

8) Ted's Wedding (Season 6, Episode 9) Good ol' Ted Baxter finally makes an honest woman of Georgette.

7) Lou and That Woman (Season 5, Episode 4) The conversation between Lou and Mary about what makes a woman "that sort of woman" is fantastic.

6) Two Wrongs Don't Make a Writer (Season 4, Episode 23) Oh, Ted.

Karen Croner on Screenwriting

Read a great interview with screenwriter Karen Croner on the Women and Hollywood blog on IndieWire. She was talking about her latest film, Admission, a truly wonderful piece of mature and comedic writing with great emotional depth.  

Two things she said really struck me as valuable for screenwriters at all stages.

"Everything in this business is impossible. So you just have to completely ignore it and then reach for what you want for more than anything."
"The other thing I would say, don't be a screenwriter to be a screenwriter. You need to be a screenwriter because you have something you want to say. "
 There's more to the article. Check it out.

Friday, April 05, 2013


Hello everyone! This post is coming directly from Brazil as I visit family and wait for the release of my second feature film, Open Road. I’m also in the middle of crowd funding a short film and just launched the campaign, so I figured this might be a good time to talk to you about different sites available for crowd funding, the differences and even whether or not you should do it. I have to confess my producing partner Sarah Lynn Dawson and I considered not even going that route with this project. We all get bombarded with requests to donate, don’t we? We’d love to help others, but money is tight, right? We have other projects in the works, bigger projects, that also need funds, lots of funds... so why bother with a few thousand for a short?

Thursday, April 04, 2013


I'm still recovering from my spring break with the kiddos, so this is going to be another quick intro. Also, my post this week has the very special distinction of being the first one where I have not actually seen any of the films.  But have no fear my lovely readers, I've heard a ton of chatter about these babies, so I think you'll be just fine.  These are all very recent Netflix arrivals that have enjoyed healthy festival runs (and theatrical distribution in many cases), so they're hot, hot, hot!  I can't wait to watch them!  QUEUE THIS:

Bachelorette (dir Leslye Headland, 2012)  Netflix says:  "When a single overachiever learns, to her horror, that an overweight girl she teased in high school is getting married before her, she swallows her pride and serves as maid of honor, enlisting her old clique to help through an evening of mishaps. With Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, James Marsden and Adam Scott."  From what I gather, it's a pretty dark comedy. I need to see it!

L!fe Happens (dir Kat Coiro, 2011)  Netflix says: "Hipsters from the trendy Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles contend with adulthood in this woman-powered comedy. When one of them gives birth to a baby, her roomie resolves to not let this new responsibility hamper their lifestyle. With Krysten Ritter, Kate Bosworth and Rachel Bilson" I live in the trendy Silver Lake area (yes, it's two words) so maybe if I watch this I'll learn a little something about how I should really be living...

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

WGA Staffing Brief Shows TV Is A Man's World. Ug.

I wish I had better news for all the women TV writers out there, but unfortunately, the picture looks pretty darn bleak. Over the past decade, women have made some gains in TV staffing, but according to the WGA’s latest analysis of the state of diversity in writing staffs, it’s still a white man’s world.

According to The Wrap, the study analyzed employment patterns for 1,722 writers working on 190 broadcast and cable TV shows during the 2011-2012 season, highlighting three specific groups who have traditionally been underemployed in the TV industry: women, minority, and older writers.

Between the 1999-2000 and 2011-12 TV seasons, women writers’ share of TV staff employment increased approximately 5 percentage points, from 25 percent to 30.5 percent. That’s improvement. True. But to put that in perspective, at that rate of increase it will be another 42 years before women reach proportionate representation to men.

It’s no surprise that writing staffs remain dominated by white males. But you might be surprised to learn that roughly 10 percent of TV shows in the 2011-12 season had no female writers on staff at all. Zippo!

I share this information not to depress everybody, (even though it is a bummer) but to put a fire under our rears. Things can change. I think one step towards that change is the Broad Humor Festival. It provides an opportunity for talented, like-minded women to meet and showcase their abundant talent. It’s obvious to me and, through this type of exposure, will become obvious to others that women deserve seats (many seats!) at the writers’ table.

To see the WGA study, visit http://www.wga.org/subpage_whoweare.aspx?id=922

Monday, April 01, 2013

Top 10 Reasons You Should Submit to the 2013 Broad Humor Film Festival

The 2013 Broad Humor Film Festival submissions open TODAY! For more information on this year's festival, check the website here. (Submitting to this year's short film invitational and screenplay challenge is free for alumnae, so check out the blog post on that here.)
In 2012, my pilot, Empty Nest, won "Best Teleplay," and the festival was a wonderful experience. This year, I'm submitting again (a different project, obviously) and I hope to be able to participate in the festival again!
So, why should you enter your film or script to the Broad Humor Film Festival this year? There are tons of reasons! Here are the top 10:

10) You want a reason to spend a few days in beautiful Venice, CA this September.

9) You're reading this blog, so you're probably aware of the festival already. Why not try to be a part of it?

8) You are trying to make it in the film industry. Getting your work into festivals can't hurt that effort (I'm pretty sure it helps).

7) You are an alumna of the festival (check out the Legacy Project).

6) You've made a film (feature or short) or written a script (feature, short or television) and you're ready to submit it to festivals.