|Tangerine Entertainment, founded by NYWIFT's Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby highlighted in the WSJ and Forbes
Click here for Forbes article.
Text of The Wall Street Journal article.
Offering Women a Sweeter Deal: A Film Company Aims at the Glass Ceiling
By STEVE DOLLAR
Not long after the Sundance Film Festival in January, film producers Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby started receiving emails from all over the world, including several from China. "These girls were like 'Girl power!' Make a girl film in China!'" said Ms. Hobby. "And I'm thinking, 'How did you find us?' It's encouraging, but it's also kind of the same story. 'We love what you're doing but we have the same problem here.'"
Power is very much the issue for these filmmakers. The emails were a response to the launch, at Sundance, of Tangerine Entertainment, the NewYork-based film production company belonging to Ms. Hobby and Ms. Hubbell. In fact, they were swamped with emails and phone calls from women filmmakers, all eager to connect with the company's mission: producing more movies made by women.
"The response has been kind of unbelievable," said Ms. Hobby, who has known Ms. Hubbell for a dozen years, working most recently with her on last year's comedy "Gayby," an independent festival favorite written anddirected by Jonathan Lisecki.
Although Sundance proudly publicized the fact that half of its competition films this year were made by women, reflecting the gender-parity evolution in the independent film world, Ms. Hubbell is quick to note that, overall, the statistics aren'tpretty. One recent study found that only 4.4% of the studio-backed movies that made their premieres at Sundance were directed by women."There's a plateau," she said. "The percentages are better, but threeto four times the amount of women directors we see in Hollywood still only amount to 20% to 25%. It's not an equitable situation."
Ms. Hubbell, a familiar face on the festival circuit as the Eastman Kodak Company regional account manager for studio and independent feature film, and Ms. Hobby, whose on-set roles have ranged from line producing to cinematography, had long wanted to collaborate. When they began brainstorming, the concept of a "soup-to-nuts" enterprise that could produce, promote and foster women filmmakers in whatever mode was necessary struck them both as a no-brainer."
Between the two of us, we've covered most if not all of the jobs in independent film," said Ms. Hobby, who joins Ms. Hubbell on a staff of two, plus a few interns. "We got to thinking, 'How can we utilize all of this in the modern landscape of filmmaking?'"
Added Ms. Hubbell, "We wanted a brand, something outside of the 'make one film, start raising money for another' model. It was important to build an audience while we were making films for them. It gives us a way to connect to the audience regardless of the subject of the film. "One of their outreach projects is will be a bimonthly Tangerine movie night. Starting in June, audiences will be able to stream a classic title by a female director—such as Susan Siedelman's "Desperately Seeking Susan" or Nora Ephron's "Sleepless in Seattle"—from the company's website, supplemented by special guest appearances and other extras.
Tangerine isn't dropping into the middle of a void, exactly. The launch comes at a time when female writer-directors with a strong narrative sense and lots of indie credentials are making names for themselves. Besides breakout star Lena Dunham, there's Lynn Shelton, who directs episodic television when she's not making offbeat relationship dramas like "Your Sister's Sister," and writer-performer Brit Marling ("Sound of My Voice"). On a mainstream scale, Kathryn Bigelow struck a blow with her Academy Award in 2009 for 'The Hurt Locker" and the follow-up success of "Zero Dark Thirty."
Still, Ms. Hubbell said, "There's always...one person that stands out that people point to and say, 'Oh look at this person!' But if you just take a look at the numbers, they do stay the same. There's a huge underutilized workforce that we think we can tap into. "Tangerine, which comprises Ms. Hubbell, Ms. Hobby and a few interns, already has six projects in the works, each budgeted at below $2.5 million, including one for which shooting has wrapped, made by Seattle-based writer-director Megan Griffiths ("Eden"), a former assistant director for Ms. Shelton whose previous film "The Off-Hours" starred another breakout talent, microbudget all-star, Amy Seimetz ("SunDon't Shine"). Others include an omnibus children's feature conceived by New York-based filmmaker Sara Driver ("Sleepwalk"), with
contributions from various international directors.
One thing that surprised Ms. Hubbell—who had expected to work with emerging talents angling to step up to the next level for their second film—was that a number of well-established directors also reached out. "The fact that Patty Jenkins hasn't made a feature since 'Monster' [in which she directed Charlize Theron to Academy Award] is crazy," she said. "You have to think that if there was a male director who got that kind of attention, there would be more opportunities."
"Men can have movies that fail and they keep working, no problem," said Penelope Spheeris, who enjoyed success in 1992 with the comedy "Wayne's World," as well as enduring cult status for her "Decline of Western Civilization" rock documentaries. "Women go to director jail immediately if they have one unsuccessful film."
Ms. Spheeris was delighted to meet Ms. Hubbell recently. "You know how they say things are part of the zeitgeist?" As it turned out, Tangerine was the third new enterprise she had discovered that was promoting women filmmakers. "Thank God someone is trying to do it."
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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Last updated: Apr. 16, 2013