Filmmakers Head to the (Hollywood) Hills for Outfest’s Women’s Soiree
Filmmakers Mary Jo Godges, left, and Renee Sotile flex some filmmaking muscle with actress Traci Dinwiddie (Elena Undone), center.
So many seasoned producers, directors, writers and actors ventured into the Hollywood Hills for Outfest’s year-end Women’s Soiree, it appears that things are looking up for women filmmakers. What better way to find out than to ask a bevy of busy industry women who are gathered poolside?
“We had the burden to prove that there was an audience for a lesbian-themed movie,” says Nisha Ganatra, remembering back to 1999 when she wrote and directed Chutney Popcorn, the sexy dramedy starring Jill Hennessy that established her career. “Now we don’t have that burden, or it’s nowhere the intensity that it used to be.”
Next spring Ganatra will direct a mainstream romantic comedy called Just Unmarried, which happens to have a gay character.
Mingling in and around the private residence were veteran directors Lee Rose (In Plain Sight; Haven), Nicole Conn (Elena Undone), Jamie Babbit (Drop Dead Diva; But I’m a Cheerleader), Anna Margarita Albelo (Hooters), Lee Friedlander (Out at the Wedding), Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges (The Oldest LESBIAN in the World!), and Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.).
Actor Meredith Baxter and partner Nancy Locke chatted up comic Suzanne Westenhoefer, Baxter’s costar in We Have to Stop Now. Other actors spotted were Dreya Weber (A Marine Story), Traci Dinwiddie (Elena Undone; Supernatural), Meredith Scott Lynn (Legally Blonde; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), Ashleigh Sumner (And Then Came Lola), Deirdre Lovejoy (Bones; The Wire) and Michelle Clunie and Thea Gill (Queer as Folk).
The annual soiree offers the chance to “get the L up in LGBT programming,” says Albelo. “It gives us a chance to meet each other … to understand what people are liking and loving.”
Rose, a veteran writer/director of TV movies since the 1990s, is among those willing to mentor new filmmakers through organizations such as Outfest.
“Find someone to latch onto for awhile and learn and just keep doing it,” she advises newcomers.
With all the gay-themed characters on TV and film nowadays, I wonder if those working on LGBT projects might even have an advantage.
Ganatra suggests that more importantly, “it’s not a disadvantage anymore.”
Dreya Weber has starred in two of the most daring films to land at Outfest in recent years, The Gymnast and A Marine Story.
“In a world where you don’t know what support is going to be possible,” says Weber, “particularly social-themed movies or movies that are a little bit more on the periphery, [Outfest] is an incredibly supportive home and network.”
Weber was discussing a future role with director Nicole Conn and producer Marina Bader.
“You heard it here first,” joked Conn. “We are now in beginning discussions with Dreya working on one of our projects. We’re very excited.”
Will Weber, known for her aerial choreography, be airborne?
“They’re making me superwoman!,” Weber jokes.
“Oh god, that would be hot,” says Bader.
Hmm, they may be onto something.
“Oh, can you imagine Dreya in a Supergirl outfit? Asks Conn.
Yes, I think we can.
For more about Outfest, go to outfest.org.
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