Joan Kron’s TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! is Kinda Fonda Plastic Surgery

By Bill Scheft, Screenmancer Correspondent

SCREENMANCER presents 89-year-old journalist Joan Kron’s  first film, “TAKE MY NOSE….PLEASE!” This award-winning documentary about female comedians and plastic surgery begins its limited theatrical run in New York October 6 at the Village East and in Los Angeles October 13 at the Laemmle Santa Monica. She sat down for Screenmancer and talked with former Letterman writer Bill Scheft, the executive producer of the film, who also happens to be her cousin.



JOAN: I set out to make a film about the importance of female comedians and their honesty about plastic surgery. But the honesty was so affecting, I never expected they would inspire so much empathy. Comedians always inspire laughter, rarely empathy. The fact that the audience became so attached to the two main characters (comedians Jackie Hoffman and Emily Askin) and that they would embody so many of the feelings that real women had about plastic surgery, that ended up being the charm of the movie.

That was the biggest surprise in making the film. The second biggest surprise was I never realized I was such a control freak.


JOAN: I think that if you don’t try to entrap the people you’re interviewing, to try and get them to say what you want them to say, just let them talk, they open up and then the honesty takes over.

In many interviews, I felt I had asked a question and didn’t have to ask anything for ten minutes. Aaron Latham, a wonderful writer who I worked with at New York Magazine, once explained his interview technique to me. He said that when people stop talking, there’s a long pause, and they hate the silence so they need to fill it. That’s when the truth comes out. So, I had to keep my trap shut, which is extremely difficult for me. The days I did that were some of the best filming days.


JOAN: It is a huge advantage for a filmmaker to be a writer. Even though you don’t have to write any of the connective tissue, you’re writing all the time. 100-word synopsis. A 200-word synopsis. A 1000-word synopsis. You have to articulate the film on paper. All this happens before you shoot. At the moment of filming, all you have to do is ask good questions.


JOAN: Get a lawyer before you do anything else. Buy a dozen good pens and three large binders. Buy plastic covers for important papers. Get a graphic logo for your movie made early. When you’re shooting, make sure someone shoots you so you have some publicity shots. Get thank you notes made to send with checks. This is important, because many of the checks you’ll write could have and should have been larger.


JOAN: I think it definitely had something to do with Robert Redford. He has been outspoken against plastic surgery. And everyone wants his approval. Jane has been very courageous and outspoken about the work she’s had, even mentioning her doctor on her website. Years ago, she went out to promote a new movie and it ended up being a facelift press tour. But you want to talk about it when you want to talk about it, and maybe she didn’t feel it was appropriate. I will say, Robert Redford looked quite good. Not as rumpled as usual. Maybe it was just good make-up. Maybe it was something else. Perhaps she was being considerate of him.

Bill Scheft & Joan Kron at Miami Film Festival.

Bill Scheft & Joan Kron at Miami Film Festival.


JOAN: I don’t think it changed my feelings about plastic surgery. I had very strong feelings when I started. I had never been moved by anything I saw about plastic surgery. People were always looking at either the horror aspect or the extremes. They viewed it as something to make fun of.  I never felt anyone in the media had any empathy. They were just going for the bizarre.

I call it the “Ain’t that awful?” approach. “Ain’t that awful she wanted her lips so big?”

And I had my own experience with plastic surgery. The feeling of looking in the mirror afterward and seeing the magic. Seeing that I looked better.

People do not go through the pain, expense and risk without a benefit. It’s a $13 billion industry. People don’t endure the jokes and criticism without getting something for it. We don’t all look like Jocelyn Wildenstein. Why do people need a car? To get from her to there. Why do women need a facelift? Same answer. No one ever complimented anyone on looking worse.


JOAN: I was mostly influenced by the type of films I didn’t want to make. I didn’t want to make what I call a “seven-sofa documentary.” Seven talking heads on seven different couches. And what happened was people became so attached to Jackie and Emily they forgot it was documentary and began to think of it as a dramatic movie.


JOAN: By the end, the audience is not only empathizing, it’s identifying. So many times, women come up to me after the film and give me the famous facelift gesture (pushing their cheeks up underneath their ears). “What do you think?” they say. I feel there is something magical about plastic surgery, and inside every one of us there is hope for magic.


I started five and a half years ago, and I was worried throughout the process that I wouldn’t live to see it finished. Now, I just want to make it to Friday. (October 6, when the film makes its theatrical debut in New York .)

BILL SCHEFT was a writer for David Letterman from 1991-2015, during which time he was nominated for 15 Emmys. He is the author of four novels and was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He and his late wife, comedian Adrianne Tolsch, were the Executive Producers of TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! The film is in her memory.



Joan Kron, veteran journalist, spent the past 25 years as contributing editor-at-large at Allure magazine where she covered the hot topics of cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery. Prior to Allure, she held senior editorial positions at New York Magazine, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Avenue Magazine. Kron is known for her books and numerous articles and commentary on design, beauty and plastic surgery. And now at the age of 89 years old, she has embarked on a new career as a documentary filmmaker.


TAKE MY NOSE PLEASE is a seriously funny and wickedly subversive look at the role comedy has played in exposing the pressures on women to be attractive and society’s desire/shame relationship with plastic surgery. More than 15 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the US in 2014. And 90% of them on were done on women. Yet, for those who elect to tinker with Mother Nature, especially for high-profile women, plastic surgery is still a very dark secret. Funny women, though, are the exception. From Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers to Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin, comedians have been unashamed to talk about their perceived flaws, and the steps taken to remedy them. For these dames, cosmetic surgery isn’t vanity, it is affirmative action – compensation for the unfair distribution of youthfulness and beauty.

By admitting what their sisters in drama deny, comic performers speak to women who feel the same pressures, giving them permission to pursue change (or not to) while entertaining us.

TAKE MY NOSE PLEASE follows two comedians as they deliberate about going under the knife. Emily Askin, an up-and coming improv performer, has always wanted her nose refined. Jackie Hoffman, a seasoned headliner on Broadway and on TV, considers herself ugly and regrets not having the nose job offered in her teens. And maybe she’d like a face-lift, as well. As we follow their surprisingly emotional stories, we meet other who have taken the leap – or held out.

Putting it all in perspective are psychologists, sociologists, the medical community and cultural critics. And for comic relief and the profundity only comedians can supply. The film includes commentary from Roseanne Barr, Phyllis Diller, the late Joan Rivers,Judy Gold, Julie Halston, Lisa Lampanelli, Giulia Rozzi, Bill Scheft, and Adrianne Tolsch.

Audience Award – Miami International Film Festival
Audience Award – Berkshire International Film Festival
Official Selection – Newport Beach International Film Festival; San Francisco Doc Fest; Arizona International Film Festival; Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival; San Luis Obispo Film Festival; Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival; and more


See this debut film from someone 89-years-young. Joan Kron’s TAKE MY NOSE… PLEASE! Opens Oct. 6 in New York and Oct. 13 in LA.
#GoTuckYourself on Twitter or Face(lift)book & find website here!

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Rachel Feldman directing Amy Brenneman in HERE NOW

Venice Films Mostly Male & AFI 100 Movies List 2017, Not One by a Woman?

by Sarah Bullion, Screenmancer Correspondent

An interview with Rachel Feldman – Veteran of the Hollywood Gender Wars – Two Women Who Direct Film & TV (updated) in a Candid Conversation about the State of the Business.

Director Sarah Bullion, In a Conversation with Director Rachel Feldman

Director Sarah Bullion in a Conversation with Director Rachel Feldman

SARAH BULLION: You are a veteran filmmaker and vocal activist for women in Hollywood, how did you discover that voice? 

RACHEL FELDMAN: Perhaps because I had grown up in a political household, I came to my view of injustice fairly organically. Unconscious gender bias is so ubiquitous – it was always shocking to me how little people talked about it.

I received my master’s degree in film directing and my graduate thesis film won over 25 major film festivals. I also began to write at that time and immediately sold my first scripts. In those “15 minutes of fame” I was signed by William Morris and attended a lot of meetings. I was making a living working for well established (male) directors on big studio movies, preparing their director notebooks and pre-viz plans, while getting grants and making my own indie films – but it became clear that none of the women in my class were getting directing jobs, just the guys – some of whom hadn’t even finished their thesis films. For 10 years, I was never hired to direct, until Steven Bochco saw one of my shorts and invited me to helm an episode of “Doogie Howser M.D.” He had a keen awareness that women directors were suffering and wanted to do something about it.

Director Rachel Feldman, a Veteran of Gender Wars in Hollywood

Director Rachel Feldman, a Veteran in Hollywood Photo credit: Suki Medencevic

I sought out other directors like me at the Directors Guild of America but there were only a handful of women directing at the time and few of them attended meetings. Despite the incredible level of gender inequity all around us most women were very fearful of ruining their careers by speaking up. Even though it had only been 10-15 years since “The Original Six” motivated the DGA to go to court on behalf of women directors, causing a marked increase of employment for women, I felt quite alone.

We wanted our guild to fight for us, but their support came in the shape of “shadowing” programs that rarely led to jobs, having events that celebrated the handful of female celebrity directors, or to have “networking” events filled with executives who had zero mandate to hire us. It wasn’t until 2010 that I met other women at the DGA who felt brave enough to question the established patriarchy. We were tired of the same boilerplate responses to our lack of employment, it felt as if our own guild truly didn’t care about making things better for us.

In 2012 I was asked to run as co-chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee. My speech was an outspoken call for change and I won. I produced the 2013 Women of Action Summit, the first event in the guild’s 80-year history that focused exclusively on tackling gender inequity. The 250 female directors who attended were exhilarated, however the DGA actively thwarted our success. The year-long organizational process was tortuous with a punishing level of scrutiny and domination from the guild. And if that hadn’t stopped us, on the day of the event, a Guild administrator literally stole the single copy of email addresses our guests had given us requesting further contact with our coalition. This sabotage prevented us from using that event as the very catalyst for which we had created it in the first place. Then, in the final blow, adding insult to injury, soon after the event, the guild implemented a vote to change our by-laws, preventing our coalition’s most vocal members from running for office based on their lack of recent employment – caused by the very gender discrimination we face.

Though the DGA was effective in suppressing an uprising, I believe our efforts have been a tipping point in finally cracking open a new conversation with solutions now as a goal.

What makes one an activist? 

Activism is bred from rage. Being a “have not” in an environment of riches is maddening. People continue to insist that the film business is a meritocracy, that the best and the brightest succeeded, but most are blind to the fact that without opportunity one cannot possibly rise. This is true regarding class, race, or gender. It’s this frustration and exclusion that sparks the flame of needing to fight back.

What is working and what isn’t?

We have to stop accepting the status quo. We say, “The future is female” but in Hollywood that all too often means having female executives or filming a female protagonist who just acts like a man. Until we have female creators using their voices and vision to offer fresh perspectives, it’s all pabulum.

In the past few weeks, The Venice Film Festival screened only a single film directed by a woman, The AFI Best 100 Movies lists not one movie directed by a woman.  Out of 60 episodes why was only a single episode of “Game of Thrones” directed by a woman? And why, decade after decade, is it acceptable that the DGA’s own screening schedule is a sea of men’s faces? Unconscious bias is omnipresent and we must simply just keep calling it out over and over and over again in every facet of our industry until folks wake up.

Training programs are bullshit when there are already so many accomplished women directors, shadowing is downright disrespectful and ineffective. No other industry would put up with being present to simply observe others at work – with no pay and no actual plan to prepare for an actual job. Most women directors have either graduated film school or have made independent films, commercials, music videos, or worked in the industry as editors, AD’s etc. – so why are we treated as novices, viewed with suspicion, treated with disrespect? Why is this tolerated? Let’s find a route to feeding the hiring pipeline that’s equitable and sensible.

I have 25 years of high-level experience and yet I’m still called a “first time director” by feature producers and asked to shadow in television. Directing is hard and it requires a very specific set of skills, talents, and temperament but it is not molecular chemistry. Give women opportunities and they will deliver, big time. Do like Ryan Murphy and Ava DuVernay. JUST DO IT!

What would you like to see new or young activists doing and saying today? 

Female filmmakers have gotten brave, even brazen. Younger women are fearless now in their calling out inequity and that helps. Women are helping, supporting, and lifting up other women and there’s an overall sense of sisterhood today that is very powerful. Women no longer want to be the only women in the room, we want our entire community to thrive and that generous sense is glorious.

Are you ever concerned that your outspokenness will injure your career? 

I don’t believe that anyone’s activism will affect their career adversely. It’s not like there is a poisonous individual who’s the issue, it’s institutional culpability that is harming women’s careers in general.

What is the difference for a woman director on a feature film versus on TV?

The only difference is the way we have been treated, not the work itself.  In television, the director steps into a fully formed, pre-established community.  That group can be welcoming to new directors or downright hostile – and women can have a hard time with this. But in features, when the director is the one who leads the hiring of department heads she has a leadership role from the onset, which engenders automatic respect.

What differences have you seen on sets with more women represented? 

Gender is not the answer. Awareness is. Men can be great feminists and working with enlightened men who respect and love working in a team is amazing. I will say that good news is on the horizon.  Just this week I had a conversation with the studio executive who is producing a pilot of mine and when I suggested that we hire women directors he opened his laptop and already had compiled an extensive list!  I was thrilled! Also many celebrated female actors are now talking about how much they enjoy working with women directors and want to support us.  It’s happening.

There’s lots of talk about nurturing new talent but why is the industry not seeking out all the experienced women directors who’ve been struggling all these years, in television and in features?  How can they be found?

There can be no more excuses about not being able to find female directors. Producers simply have to realize that they cannot rely on literary agencies or the guild, who promote those whose careers are already thriving. There are many organizations such as The Alliance of Women DirectorsFilm Fatales, and at The Director List, where filmmaker Destri Martino has amassed searchable database of over 1000 women directors. There are over 1300 female directors in the DGA alone!

When Ava DuVernay wanted to hire women directors of color she put out the word and found great talent.  When Ryan Murphy wanted change he and Tanase Popa created the Half Initiative, creating his own gateway.  Where there is a will…

And hey, calling JJ Abrams – where are you in this?! We need powerful voices to fight for us.

What’s your personal experience with agents and managers – representation? 

I’ve directed over 60 episodes of television, but each job was as hard to get as the next and I’ve never had solid representation. It’s tricky for me.  I came up at a time when no one was talking about these issues and we few women had little support. So now I’m neither a newbie – full of promise, nor a celebrity name -who will easily slide onto a roster.  I’m a client that requires a narrative and that’s a hurdle many reps find challenging.

Talent doesn’t go away.  I think it’s actually a good thing if a director is also a writer, an editor, had children, cared for dying parents, or sailed around the world. These experiences make us stronger storytellers, not weaker ones. But the industry perceives these life waves as “gaps” and that becomes just another excuse for resistance.

How do we get more people (from agents to producers) involved in the groundswell?

It’s happening, I think people really do care, but we need to continue to call out the established practices that have not been effective, and take bold steps until change happens.

Did your activism influence your passion to bring Lilly Ledbetter’s story to the screen in FAIR FIGHT?

Absolutely! Lilly was cheated out of half her salary by a company she had dedicated her career to, just because she was a woman. Her challenges and her fight spoke to me deeply on a personal level. FAIR FIGHT is a thriller about a real life super hero. Lilly had virulent antagonists who wanted to silence her demand for equity and she wouldn’t give up, no matter the stakes.

Lilly may be the voice and face of “fair pay” but it’s gender justice, in every aspect of life, that’s the heart of our message. Women in Hollywood are cheated out of careers because of their gender, girls and women around the globe are undervalued, demeaned, and abused just because they were born one gender and all of this is outrageous and must end.

Lily Ledbetter, Activist, with Director Rachel Feldman

Lilly Ledbetter, Activist, with Director Rachel Feldman

Do you think FAIR FIGHT can change things? 

Movies are effective propaganda and our media is one of the U.S.’s most impactful exports. The stories, images, and concepts we illuminate have a global effect and girls and women, men and boys, will understand Lilly’s bravery in the face of terrible odds. This is the human story that one single person can and must speak out against tyranny and subjugation, and that the unique character who can withstand tremendous obstacles and obstruction is a super hero in the flesh. That story needs to be told over and over, especially with women at the helm.

I’m eager to conduct a cinematic symphony and this is it – to take all the skill and craft I’ve developed over a lifetime and use it to create a big, beautiful, dare I say important, story that takes an audience on a huge emotional journey. But for the world, for the zeitgeist, I hope the message will be very powerful.

What would your ideal career look like? 

What a fun question! I’ve become a very facile storyteller. It would be amazing to be able to use the skills I’ve developed and finally put them all to use. I would love to have my own production company and a pod deal, getting paid to do what I do now every day on spec. I’d like to be directing my projects and other’s, writing all kinds of movies and TV series, and working with other writers creating a broad range of projects.

I’d love to set up writer’s rooms and bring my projects to life with those like the brilliantly talented students, mentees, and colleagues I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years.

I started out in advertising so I’d also love to work with brands to create what I call “advertainment.” I long to work with a product line and web series where the characters and plot are integrated with the merchandize in a truly organic fashion. Not product placement!  But a show that sells a lifestyle from top to bottom. I really want to do this!

What are you currently working on? 

My producers Jenette Kahn and Adam Richman at Double Nickel Entertainment are currently out to actors with FAIR FIGHT.  In addition, I recently won the 2017 WGA Writer’s Access Project, run by Glen Mazzara, with my pilot KINKS, then sold that pilot to AJ Mendez at Pillar Segan who have a deal at eOne TV.  We’re preparing to take the project to buyers with talent.

I just completed a new short film, HERE NOW, starring the amazing Amy Brenneman, shot by Nancy Schreiber, the brilliant cinematographer who won the coveted 2017 ASC President’s award and we’ve recently been accepted to a couple of Oscar qualifying festivals. I was jonesing to make a movie!  We shot it in my house over 2 days and many lifelong friends came in with freebies and favors including Panavision, Technicolor, Cine Lease, Legion VFX, and even the incredible Bruce’s Catering. The rest of the budget I raised with a Seed & Spark  fundraising campaign of $10,000.

Like most filmmakers I’m in constant development. I write every single day. It’s making movies in my head and on paper; it keeps my imagination limber and my slate strong.

Sarah Bullion is a LA-based director and writer, interested in the intersection of cinema and activism. She is the Treasurer of the Board of Alliance of Women Directors and is currently completing her MFA in Screenwriting at Stephens College. She can be reached at sarah@allianceofwomendirectors.org

You can tweet to Rachel Feldman at @WomenCallAction or find her here.

Screenmancer thanks both directors, Sarah Bullion and Rachel Feldman, for this Conversation, part of a new series.For more information, contact: news@screenmancer.tv or post comment.

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Rachel Feldman 2

You Think Google Has Issues: Rachel Feldman Has Something To Say About Women & Directing, Okay?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

One hot week in August leading up to a full moon, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7, there was a kind of ground zero for the D-word from Hollywood to Silicon Valley. We’re talking hot-button issues inclusion, fairness, and equity under the heading of Diversity. If you haven’t heard what happened, a recap is in order. Gwood17Here’s a timeline: on July 31 “CBS This Morning” covers a new USC Annenberg study that cites “inclusion crisis” in Hollywood, based on Dr. Stacy Smith’s co-authored academic dissection of 900 films and 39,000 “characters” charted over a decade that prove demographics are not improving in re: diversity, including women behind the camera. Aug. 1 the fall-out at TCA (Television Critics Association) summer summit in Los Angeles is that, no surprise, CBS execs Kelly Kahl (CBS Ent. Pres.) and Thom Sherman (Sr. Exec. Programming) are mercilessly held to the fire by reporters on diversity stats and the fracas is covered by Los Angeles Times, even with a caveat at 6:45 pm that tellingly announces a quote correction as: “An earlier version of this post quoted Kelly Kahl as saying, “I don’t how to answer that.” It has been corrected to read “I’m not exactly even sure how to address that.””

A quote correction is a rare occurrence in journalism, and underscores that an ideological brush-fire has started. Nobody means harm, but the stats don’t lie. It’s business as usual, but with resistance now.

By Aug. 3, NBC which is owned by Comcast, also owner of Universal with the banner NBCUNI, uses TCA to introduce its “Female Forward” push that is supposed to address the underrepresentation of women in helmer positions in television. Slated for 2018-2019 season, a mere 10 women get a shot behind the camera, in a drop-in-the-ocean attempt to correct DGA-compiled stats that only 17 percent of episodes on all platforms were directed by women, with — get this — only 3% by minority women.

FX Displays One of The More Diverse Pie Charts at TCA.

FX Displays One of The More Diverse Pie Charts at TCA.

Next, over the weekend of Aug. 4 – 6, a bombshell goes off in Silicon Valley with a self-proclaimed “classic liberal” 28-year-old Google software engineer’s memo on a site called Motherboard that pretends to be a counterpoint to the lack of women in tech roles with a screed that includes charts and graphs on why women are “biologically” absent from high-profile engineering jobs in tech, as well as tech in general. Ka-Pow!

On Monday, Aug. 7, the world wakes up to worldwide coverage of James Damore’s surprising anti-PC punch in the gut to women, and suddenly the floorboards are ripped up on gender resentments from Hollywood to Silicon Valley.

By Monday night Damore is fired by Google, and Weds., Aug. 9 said memo-writer threatens (and files) a lawsuit for wrongful termination — but the cat is out of the bag, and all gender hell has broken loose. Because if you follow the Damore logic, women have just been handed their ass in every profession. Rachel Feldman 2Enter director Rachel Feldman, who is former chair of the DGA (Director’s Guild of America) Women’s Steering Committee, and wow, is she pissed off.

“James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the controversial 3,300 word memo outlining his reasons why female employees were inferior workers, has been fired. Good for Google!  Their response was swift and their message clear; that kind of caveman thinking won’t be tolerated at Google,” Feldman begins. “But responding to pseudo-science that tries to legitimize prejudice is overt and relatively easy to spot. What’s much harder to root out, to see clearly, and eliminate is the insidious infection of unconscious bias.”

“I work in the Hollywood film and television industry as a director and I am a woman. I have more than paid my dues – with a masters degree in directing, numerous prestigious film festivals for grant funded indie films, trained on big studio movies working for famous, brilliant directors, and then directed over 60 hours of network and broadcast television – both episodic television and original movies, as well as taught directing on the Masters level – yet every job is still as hard to get as the first one, and I am called “a first time director” by many.”

In addition to being a director, writer, and filmmaker, Feldman, who is currently working on a script about equal-pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter (FAIR FIGHT), produced the 2013 DGA Women of Action Summit that was a first in the guild’s 80-year history to shine a spot on gender disparity. Ledbetter was born in 1938, and even though a “fair pay act” was named for her in 2009, she continues to fight for an equal share for women — both in representation and in the paycheck.

Ironically, James Damore’s Google platform for his numbskull pontificating about gender has opened the door for a class action suit, with some 60 female employees on board who learned via this scandal that they were paid up to $40K less than their male counterparts in some cases. Rampant sexism is the cause, as in Hollywood.

According to Deadline, an insider Hollywood news site, the EEOC is looking into gender discrimination in the industry’s most famous town in a big way.

“Decades ago producers and those who hire would say overtly sexist things to me and get away with it,” Feldman shares. “When a producer gives you the excuse for not hiring you because they “already had a woman director and the crew didn’t like her,” it was hard to hold my tongue and not point out the idiocy of that statement. But times have changed and now we are supposedly enlightened. We have diversity programs and initiatives up the wahzoo. So why has so little changed for women directors? What happened at Google was clearly terrible, but I wish my own industry were as vigilant in reacting to the perpetual gender exclusion that women directors in film and television live with every day.”

 L-R Nancy Rae Stone (producer), Feldman (director/writer), Nancy Schreiber ASC (Cinematographer), Barbara Kallier (gaffer), Pony Gold (key grip.)

Feldman’s Crew: L-R Nancy Rae Stone (producer), Feldman (director/writer), Nancy Schreiber ASC (Cinematographer), Barbara Kallier (gaffer), Pony Gold (key grip.)

You can also follow her activism on these topics on Twitter @WomenCallAction, and track Feldman as she responds to some tough questions on women and directing here:

Q:  What do you think of the recent Google memo about women (another male-heavy profession, tech), and are the attitudes in tech and movies parallel, if so why is that?

A: James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the controversial 3,300 word memo outlining his reasons why female employees were inferior workers, has been fired.  Good for Google!  Their response was swift and their message clear; that kind of caveman thinking won’t be tolerated at Google.  But responding to pseudo-science that tries to legitimize prejudice is overt and relatively easy to spot. We have witnessed the tragedies of Eugenics attempting to rationalize genocide and most of us are lucky enough to live in a progressive culture where we strive for equality in every facet of our lives.  What’s much harder to root out, to see clearly, and eliminate is the insidious infection of unconscious bias.

Q: So why has so little changed for women directors?

A: What happened at Google was clearly terrible, but I wish my own industry were as vigilant in reacting to the perpetual gender exclusion that women directors in film and television live with every day.

Someone recently asked me if this was ageism because honestly, most of the woman I’m talking about are no longer the girls they were when they started directing in the 90’s.  But when the obstacles we face are exactly the same as the ones we faced 25 years ago, we must admit that gender exclusion is the culprit.

Q: Tricky issue – Kathryn Bigelow, DETROIT, what’s your opinion on this production, that director?

A: I thought DETROIT was very strong and I believe that the race conversation about a white woman telling this story is misplaced. Kathryn Bigelow is at the top of her game, she doesn’t need us to talk about her. I believe what we need to talk about the thousands of NON-CELEBRITY women who are brilliant, skilled, talented, proven, accomplished – and not working.  WHY?  How do we get the industry to pay attention to the women who have been ignored for way too long by gender exclusion?

Q: How about the thorny issue of wanting to be counted as a female director, but wanting to be seen on the world stage as a Director, no gender?

A: I think that women directors who have already had some measure of success can afford to take this position, but from my activist seat and from the position of having a career that has been severely affected by gender exclusion, I feel that any women who takes this position is doing a disservice to her sister filmmakers.  Not proclaiming your gender as a woman director in this day and age feels a bit like privilege to me.  We must fight for every woman to have a fair share and we will only do that if we join forces as women behind the camera.

Q: Top ten women director list, your choices (living or dead, domestic and international)?

A: It’s important that we banish the notion that there are only a handful of directors! We are a huge, underutilized labor force, and there is AN ARMY OF HIGHLY SKILLED DIRECTORS in both film and television.

Find us, hire us.There are so many brilliant, expressive voices to choose from but anyone I would name is already well known.  What I’d like to do it to invite our industry to hire new directors who they may never have heard of before.  These two links will allow for a great exploration: http://www.thedirectorlist.com/database/thedirecorlist.com and here.

Q: Are initiatives from groups like Geena Davis’ gender institute helpful?

A: The GDIGM is a great organization and quite effective. Geena is a great speaker and Madeline is a wonderful advocate.  We need more female protagonists and girls and women on screen who are not stereotyped, sexualized or victimized.  These are hugely important issues.

Q: What’s the greatest challenge of directing for women — getting funded, hiring enough women, etc?

A: The greatest challenge for women is to squash the idea that we don’t exist. Day after day we hear the same refrain – that there are only a handful of directors to hire – while THOUSANDS of us with Oscars, Emmy’s, Sundance awards, and hundreds of credits are ignored.  Why?  Why is all the focus on change to develop a pipeline for the future, with educational programs for new directors, when there are so many of us trained directors who could be working now and changing the stats NOW! The answer is that many of us don’t have agents, we are invisible – and why don’t we have representation? Because the agencies only want to hire hot celebrities who bring in fast money.  This cycle must change!!!

Q: Who is your favorite female director, or top three favorites and why?

A: I’d rather not talk about my s/heroes, but instead introduce folks to a tiny, tip of the iceberg list of hard-working, accomplished women who you’ve never heard of. This is by no means intended to be exhaustive or comprehensive, and this list focuses on television and not features.  There are thousands of talented women in the independent space, with stunning, award winning films – and many more in TV as well – let’s promote these women and get them working

Feldman’s Director Short List

Victoria Hochberg, Gloria Muzio, Neema Barnett, 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 Karell, Maggie Greenwald, Debroah Kempmeir, Debra Granick, Darnell Martin, Anna Forester, Heather Cappiello, Martha Coolidge, Nicole Rubio, Tanya Hamilton, Tessa Blake, Kat Candle, Leslie Libman, Beth Spitainy, Daisy Von Scherier 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 Mann, Amy Redford, Anna Mastro, Anne Renton, Catherine Jelski, Claudia Weil, Dee Rees, Helen Hunt, Jessica Yu, Donna Deitch, Kasi Lemmons, Lily Mariye, So Yong Kim, Neema Barnette, Tina Mabrey, Tanya Hamilton…

Q: Is film school a non-starter in production for women, what about AFI’s women in directing program, and is Sundance viable for women?

A: Film schools are great if you want to learn how to make movies and meet others who love the same. I have an MFA from NYU in directing and have taught directing in the MFA program at USC, but you don’t have to go to film school to learn to make films.

It’s important to note that women graduate at 50% of film school classes but the employment drops off the moment they enter the workforce.

We exist, we are interested and trained, we just don’t get the opportunities.

Q: About getting distribution and screenings — is it the same dog-and-pony show for any director?

A: If your project has a female protagonist you are in for a hard road.

If you can’t get one of the top 10 female actors who are interesting to foreign sales, your chances are slim to none.

These are insidious forms of gender discrimination and ones that need to be challenged.

Q: On how to promote a film — is it an advantage to say a woman is at the helm, or is it better to go in blind on that in some cases?

A: It’s probably never an advantage to be a woman director unless you are already a celebrity, no matter what the media might claim.

But I believe that for better or for worse, if we are not brave and proud and willing to take the heat – things will never change.

Q: What about sexism and entries into foreign (international) film festivals, any thoughts?

A: Women are terribly excluded from film festivals.  More of the same.

Final Thoughts on Similarities, Call it “GoogleWood”

In closing, here’s a metric ex-Googler James Damore doesn’t understand: the ageism against men in tech is so ingrained that by 26, most men are done in the fast lane if they haven’t migrated from the engineering track to management. In Hollywood, most women are done by 26 as ingenues, and fall out of the fast lane if they don’t accept character roles. The point? Technology was James Damore’s Hollywood, he just didn’t get the rules of the game.


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[Editor’s note: HERE NOW, directed by Rachel Feldman will screen on Aug. 12 at Holly Shorts Film Festival, which runs from Aug. 10 -19.]

Rachel Feldman directing Amy Brenneman in HERE NOW

Rachel Feldman directing Amy Brenneman in HERE NOW


Holy Smokes, That Professor Marston Has Some Women Wondering, Wow

By Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Summer is when the blood is up, so this is perfect timing for the convergent efforts of two famous daughters, Megan Ellison and Amy Redford, to bring justice to the humans behind the superhero capes. And it’s directed by a woman, Angela Robinson. What the what, you may say? […]


Leslie Zemeckis: The Lady & The Tiger and Her Emojis

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent It’s fitting that Leslie Zemeckis is in Italy when we decide to do an interview, because the word burlesque is derived from Italian roots in “burla,” meaning mockery, to poke fun yet shine a spotlight on sexuality. Actor, writer, documentarian Zemeckis has just come out with a line of […]


Get Ready To Be Entranced: Sofia Coppola’s THE BEGUILED Grips

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

There was a time when Sofia Coppola could be at an awards show and overlooked as a famous daughter; not anymore, not for years now since LOST IN TRANSLATION. But in her new film, THE BEGUILED, which is a retool of a 1971 Clint Eastwood starrer, she really comes of age as a visionary writer/director. Even in what is considered a remake of a movie based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan, it has a distinctive feel that’s all hers. The film opens Friday, June 23 in New York and Los Angeles, with wider release on June 30.KidanBGniceWith an all-star cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, you get a sense of why this movie won Best Director at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival.

Picture a Southern all-girls boarding school during the battle-weary Civil War era, and a wounded enemy soldier appears. John McBurney (Colin Farrell) adds testosterone to a very delicate and well-mannered yet highly complex microcosm of women led by a formidable Headmistress named Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman).


“This is my dream cast,” Sofia Coppola admits. “When I was writing it, I was picturing Nicole as Miss Martha. She always surprises me. Watching her, I’ve never seen anyone like that, she does so many different things at once.” She adds that the whole cast is on a par with Kidman.

You want to use a word like confection for the ethereal feel, but that description doesn’t do justice to the depth of rich multi-layered images that float on the screen like Spanish moss.

“This is very much a Sofia film,” Colin Farrell explains. “It’s very much aesthetically beautiful. She wrote every word of this. Her way feels maybe more right than some [as far as directing], there’s an immense lack of tension on the set, very playful. She’s incredibly easygoing and generous to her core it seems.”ColinDunstBG

Farrell is underscoring the fact that a remake can often feel like a re-do of someone else’s vision.

But if you look at the 1971 version, two minutes into the film, Eastwood is literally hitting on a twelve year old, with “not too young for kisses.” And even though the fabulous Geraldine Page stars as his Miss Martha, there’s a creepy feel to their interplay, down the line. So that’s essentially the breaking point for the 2017 Beguiled. It takes a left turn at the way the heightened sexual tension is framed.

“I didn’t know the movie and I watched it, and it really stayed in my mind. I watched it. It was so weird, and I thought ‘how would I do my version?’” I thought it would be interesting to do the same story but from the female characters’ point of view.”

Elle Fanning, who plays Alicia, describes her character as kind of an empowered seductress, but still innocent in a real way. “Anything Sofia does I think is incredible, it was also like, ‘yeah.’ Because it was all these girls and women — and Colin of course— they hold the power.”ColinElleBG

“The original film had been made from a guy’s point of view, so I went back to the book. Because I just liked the premise,” Coppola adds. “It’s such a crazy, extreme premise about power between men and women in such an extreme situation. The idea of looking at wartime from the point of view of the women left behind.”

“You try to make it personal. Try to relate to the characters because it’s such a different time. And yet I loved that it had elements that were familiar to me, this feminine beautiful world. A beautiful feminine world with violence and very gothic.”

“My tendency is to be on the subtle side. Colin was teasing me: ‘Oh, this is an action movie to you, there’s guns… there’s blood.’ It’s been fun to have this mix of beautiful dresses and a little gore. We had smoke machines everyday, and candlelight… a really ethereal look that is specific to this story.”

“Colin is a good sport about being our sex object in the movie, but he has to be dangerous and threatening, and romantic in the movie.” Farrell plays a mercenary soldier paid $300 off the boat from Ireland to fight as a Yankee, so he’s neither North nor South, but emblematic of the unspoken ever-present struggle for control between the sexes.

When the crushing attractions flare up between Farrell’s character and the many flavors of female in this strange closed world hunkered down  under siege of musket fire in a distance, Beguiled really poses some interesting questions about how women express their sexuality. Yet there’s a brutality to their mannered world that Farrell’s soldier-on-the-mend only begins to realize when it’s too late.

Not that every movie needs a memorable line, but when his John McBurney yells out “You Vengeful Bitches,” in a thick Irish accent, it’s an instant classic. Probably because Nicole Kidman’s Miss Martha is so poised and possibly inherently evil at the same time, in a nice way.NicBGbad17

Kirsten Dunst, who plays wronged love interest Edwina, sums up Sofia Coppola’s deft directing hand best, as “she doesn’t second guess herself. I’ve known her for so long, I’m working with my friend, you can’t really beat that.”

Since he is outnumbered in this eerie thriller, Colin Farrell gets the last word. “I’m surrounded by extraordinary talent. Watching these extraordinary women do extraordinary work. There’s an amazing sense of camaraderie. It’s been a joy.”

Don’t miss what the women have in store for their wounded houseguest, it’s a very rewarding fight to the finish.

Focus Features awards-buzzworthy film THE BEGUILED rolls out in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, June 23, with wider release on June 30.

Directed by Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” “Somewhere”)
Written by Sofia Coppola, based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan and the screenplay by Albert Maltz and Grimes Grice
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard.

Watch This Making-of With Director & Cast



93 Minutes I Rated R

Official Site I Facebook I Twitter I Instagram

#TheBeguiled #VengefulBitches

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Hey, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE Is an Insider Film Fan Anthem, Take That THR

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Who doesn’t love The Hollywood Reporter, a trade paper of record since 1930 at the dawn of American Cinema? So what do you do when THR lukewarmly reviews a film that is a fantastically written exploration of the interplay between fans and films, between human superpowers and caped crusaders? You write a counter-review, and here it is: this is about co-director Liz Graham and Matt Jacobs’ freshly screened FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE. It’s playing on a weeklong run at Laemmle Music Hall that began last Friday, June 16, so you still have time to catch it.3 shot

Starring Eve Annenberg (writer-director of Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish) in a tacky bridal gown on an LA Metro Bus odyssey after a near-miss at matrimony, her veiled crusader of personal discovery teams up with  Bradley J. Herman, Maxx Maulion, stage actress Nija Okoro, local standup Isadora O’Boto, MMA champion Krzysztof Soszynski (Logan), Linda Bisesti and Chia Chen. It’s not exactly The Justice League, but they all have pop cultural references that thread together the multicultural experience that is Los Angeles. And it works wonders for Wedding Woman.

Just to cheat the system for you, and give film fans fair access to the movie, here are actual press notes on the film, with a synopsis so you get a gist of where this film is headed.

“In the city of Angels, everyone is on a quest.  A disheveled, middle-aged woman in a bridal gown boards a Metro bus on Hollywood Blvd in the middle of the night. As the bus heads further west, she meets an assortment of eccentrics and social outcasts who make her question where she’s been and where she’s going.  Each person she meets is at their own personal crossroads, who in turn shape the course of her bizarre journey.”

Ironically, coming from the film’s publicity folks, this is lacking in hyperbole and the extra “tulle dimension” that FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE offers diehard film buffs. ‘Tangerine Meets Canterbury Tales Set in Glitterati LaLaLand,’ is a more fitting tagline, but they got the quest part right.

Here’s something very insider fanboy and fangirl already: if you Google the title it will return results for the trip from Hollywood to Rose Avenue in Venice, which is awesome in itself. Not to mention the iconic Ballerina Clown is shown for its weirdly unpredictable staying power as a local icon despite the place going from Muscle Beach to Silicon Beach these days, with nosebleed rents and attitudes you used to only see on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, ps. So the movie also shines a spot on a place that once was cool and is now so overpriced you want to pitch a tent in protest.

donut guys in car

Taking on the Marvel Universe, Willow, Blade Runner, Bruce Lee, even that reptilians-live-inside-the-hollow-earth yadda, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE does a mind-meld for film fans that is of epic proportions. It taps into the inner stat and Easter Egg zone in those movie people who show up at Comic-Cons in full regalia, know what cosplay is, and collect lobby cards.

Plus there’s a gummy bear fight with the near-miss sister-in-law and crazy people we see on the street every day take on a mythic significance as the canaries in this coal mine we are all currently living in. Let’s face it, the remake of Blade Runner with Ryan Gosling has most of us a little nervous, but hopeful that the 1982 Blade Runner is celebrated even more for its cult replicant allegories to our plastic surgery dystopian now.

Embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress saga is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. (No, I’m not kidding. Ever wonder why movies are America’s number one lifestyle export? Because they are magical when done correctly.)From_Hollywood_to_Rose_Postcard_V2

You’ve got exceptional writing here from Matt Jacobs and a standout threading of stories from the debut team of Liz Graham and Jacobs. There is not one moment of dead air, and the film treats people’s obsessions and adoration of pop culture rabbit holes with reverence.

FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE points out that we all wear costumes is real life, not just in DC Comics, as a Bus Driver disrobes and frees himself. It also pokes hard at the emotional reactions to a simple white gown, a piece of clothing so imbued with primal subtext, it can literally freak people out. Not to mention the “fish lamp,” which is just as powerful as any Orb or Seeing Stone in how it moves the plot along.

The themes touched on here are the kind of uniting cross-generational, cross-cultural conversations that the Meaningful Movies inspire. Yes, including how important Batman is to some kids growing up, or Lord of the Rings to others, even seemingly hokey 80’s quest movies — all those adventure tales that somehow add you into the picture just by watching.

So embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress tale about “a group of interconnected eccentric strangers over the course of one long night on the LA Metro system,” is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. With all due respect to The Hollywood Reporter, you’ll love this film because it’s about us, in front of the screen, fitting our lives into a darkened room with a bunch of crazy strangers waiting for us outside in real life.


Liz Graham’s and Matt Jacobs’ From Hollywood to Rose premiered at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, where it took the prize for Best Comedy Film and went on to screen at the Manhattan Film Festival, winning Best Comedic Screenplay.  From Hollywood to Rose opened in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall last Friday, June 16th for a weeklong run.  

Get tickets and info here for The Laemmle in Los Angeles.

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Karen Black FeFF 2009_2

Leslie-Ann Coles Will Make You Think About The Female Eye… Festival Too

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Well, how many times have we heard it? “Ladies and Gentlemen,” even that phrase grates because it’s loaded from a, take a guess? Male perspective. And this is where Leslie-Ann Coles founder of The Female Eye Festival comes into sharp focus. FeFF Award WinnersFor the festival’s 15th anniversary, which opened yesterday in Toronto and runs through June 25, Coles may just be telling us what we need to hear right now. Listen up, since no one else seems to be championing story, sans capes, and what women are doing in film right now. What about Patty Jenkins and her big bang box office Wonder Woman, you ask?

“I think it is fantastic and great for all women directors. I just find it interesting that the Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker – which is a film that dealt with war — from a more personal perspective, and now we have a wonderful director with a superhero flick — again it’s an action movie,” Coles explains. “I always think about all the great films that the world has seen over the years that have often fallen under the radar of public and critical acclaim.”LA Coles Founder & Director 2016

Leslie-Ann Coles, in front of last year’s mural.

“I was always kind of interested in the (mostly male superhero) genre,” how women behind the lens see things differently, Female Eye’s tireless champion adds. “Part of the hoopla is that a women directed this,” Wonder Woman. It’s in the genre “of bastion the old boys club.”

“I was thinking also about public and industry. The general public, I don’t know how much they pay attention to who directed a film. Do they look at the poster and wonder who the director is? I don’t think the general public thinks [for example] ‘it stars Charlize Theron, wow, who is the director?’”

If you ask ‘what about women driving the box office behind a Billion Dollar Beauty & The Beast?’ “I think women buy tickets and they make a lot of decisions — maybe I’m wrong about that. This is all great… There is a film we are showing this year that we are all floored by  — we don’t often see a 74 year-old actor out of New York — the title is ‘Can Hilter Happen Here.’”Round Table Discussions 2016

As far as the full slate for the 15th Female Eye Festival, “there are some other films, documentaries, where I’ve been astonished how the women who create these films survive the front lines to get the story.  You’ll be taken aback by their work and their stories.”

The only requirement for participating films is obvious, Coles notes. Films are curated “very much with the caveat that they have to be directed by a woman.”

“There are many film festivals in the world. We have been around for 15 years, but we stand firmly behind the women in the director’s chair. I think it’s important to stand behind that.”

“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘do you think it’s important still?,’” and Coles points to the dismal stats on women at the helm of bigger budget films not just in Hollywood, but around the world.

What women have to say, it turns out, is a very different statement about the age-old entanglement of perpetual seat-filler plot-devices: Sex and Violence, she notes.Directors 2016

A film came out of New York one year that blew the viewer panels away, “Virgin” (2003). “That film was co-executive produced by Robin Wright Penn and starred Elizabeth Moss.” There was a real possibility that no one would distribute this project, so, Female Eye made sure to give it screen time. That director, Deborah Kampmeier, is out of New York.

“There was a rape of lead actress — perpetrator rapes her,” then Moss has to deal with “the man who impregnated her.”

“What struck me is that women tend to treat sex and violence very differently. Nothing is gratuitous. It’s often what [audiences] don’t see with explicit violence or sex.” The director “has come back to us with Split, Houndog — I’m a big fan of her work. She’s really underrated as a director, she is an important director, she created some, creates some great films, there have been so many.”

Karen Black FeFF 2009_2Karen Black is a past honoree.

“Nancy Savoca (Dogfight, If These Walls Could Talk) is another one; she shot a film in one apartment, one location on a micro budget,” Coles recalls.

As for her personal journey from dancer to actor to filmmaker to Festival Director? (See her bio on http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0171320/)

“I have a documentary; it has taken me eight years to finish it. Documentary about early music journalism from 1965 to 1975 from a classic black and white archive. The photographer shot for Melody Maker magazine the forerunner to Rolling Stone.

“It’s a great story when there were no rock’n’roll photographers.” This doc includes the photo “that redefined Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) great photograph… he’d locked himself in the bathroom. They went into the bathroom and spent time locked in the bathroom with Syd Barrett — there’s this photograph half in shadow and half in light — a session with Jimi Hendrix two weeks before he died in his manager’s office. Keith Moon (The Who) — stunts that went awry — these guys had incredible access. in the mid 1970’s punk came in and didn’t respect the old guard. The World changed then.”

Now the world has changed again, from mass public shootings, war-mongering around the globe like never before to psychotic drum-banging in world politics, and maybe that’s why movies told from a female perspective are an important counterbalance. In any case, the 15th Female Eye Festival takes place this week. Visit the filmmakers and their bios on display, as well as slate and schedule, at 15th Annual Female Eye Film Festival, June 20th – 25th, 2017 #FeFF2017



The FeFF celebrates the 15th Anniversary edition June 2017!

At our milestone 15th anniversary in 2017, FeFF will present an eclectic variety shorts and features in all genres from across North American including a curated shorts program from Ireland entitled, “Irish Women’s Stories” along with a selection of independent films from France, Israel, Germany, Finland, Poland, Russia, Australia, UK and Asia… just to name a few foreign delegations. We are delighted to announce in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 the Female Eye ranked one of the world’s “Top 50 Film Festivals Worthy of the Entry Fee” by the renowned Movie Maker Magazine (Santa Monica, California). 

 Founder / Artistic and Executive Director Leslie – Ann Coles conceived the Female Eye Film Festival in 2001 having observing that women directors were a minority among filmmakers at the international film festivals she attended with her debut film, “In The Refrigerator.” In 2001, the Female Eye Film Festival (FeFF) was established and incorporated as a provincial not-for-profit organization in Toronto, Canada. In 2002, the Female Eye presented 42 films in its inaugural year; 70% of the participants were local Toronto directors. (Read more here...)

[Coles new documentary is MELODY MAKERS




“Always Honest, Not Always Pretty” www.FemaleEyeFilmFestival.com

2017, The Female Eye voted worlds “Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” for five consecutive years (2013-2017) by Movie Maker Magazine

“The lack of gender equity in filmmaking [and in other arts] is perhaps a self-sustaining cycle. Movies shape the way that people see the world and by extension, the way that people see women.” – Odessa Kelebay

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