Girl Power: Hollywood Actresses Increasingly Producing Their Own Movies

March 18, 2011
Drew Barrymore Directing Whip It (2009)

Drew Barrymore Directing Whip It (2009).

Increasingly, there is a growing cluster of movies in Hollywood being made by the actresses who star in them. How To Be Single is the title of Drew Barrymore’s second movie following her first directorial debut of the movie Whip It (2009), which garnered much acclaim from critics, but not with audiences. How To Be Single, will be a romantic comedy for New Line, and is based on a 2008 novel by author Liz Tuccillo. It follows a catalog of break-ups, over a ten year period, by a group of New Yorkers. The screenplay was written by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein.

Barrymore is not the only actress to be doing this. Being hailed as The Hangover for women, the movie Bridesmaids (2011), was co-produced and co-written and starred Kristen Wiig. Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman, through her production company Handsomecharlie Films, has co-produced and starred in The Hesher (2006), No Strings Attached (2011) and The Other Woman (2009). In an interview with Vogue Portman said, “Handsomecharlie Films is very into female comedies, there just aren’t enough. We’re trying to go for that guy-movie tone, like Judd Apatow’s movies, or The Hangover (2009), but with women, who are generally not allowed to be beautiful and funny, and certainly not vulgar.”

Then there’s Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut with the untitled Bosnian War Love Story. Jodie Foster has premiered her latest movie The Beaver (2011) at SXSW. Foster produced and directed Home For The Holidays (1995), produced and starred in Nell (1994), directed and starred in Little Man Tate (1991), and she has two movies in production, Cockeyed and Flora Plum. Foster has said, “I really don’t want to work unless I really, really care about a project.”

Let’s look at IPC Films, owned by Jane Fonda no less, and which produced such classics as, Rollover (1981), On Golden Pond (1981), Nine To Five (1980) and The China Syndrome (1979)Golden Pond earned her an oscar nomination for best supporting actress. In an interview with Movieline in 1989, Fonda said, “I don’t necessarily do a film because it’s the role of my life. I do it because it’s a movie I want to be a part of, that I want to help see the light of day. On Golden Pond wasn’t my movie. In 9 to 5 I didn’t have the best part. For Coming Home (1978), I won an oscar, but I never conceived of it as a vehicle for me. When I agreed to do China Syndrome, there wasn’t even a woman in it. Richard Dreyfuss was supposed to play my part.”

Yentl (1983) and The Prince Of Tides (1991) were both written, produced and directed by Barbara Streisand. She also produced and starred in the movie, Nuts (1987).

The bottom line is that many actresses feel a little emancipated and even slightly humiliated, taking direction from a male director who is ultimately directing for a male audience, but when producing, writing or directing their own films, although not always commercially viable, it’s always going to be more rewarding. What it really boils down to is artistic freedom, not having to compromise their ideas and vision of giving women a bigger voice and greater representation in cinema.

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