Women in Focus at Chapman

Top Filmmakers Maya Rudolph, Diablo Cody, Anne Fletcher, Nancy Meyers, Penelope Spheeris and Donna Langley Share Their Thoughts at WOMEN IN FOCUS at Chapman

 

 

For emerging young female filmmakers, there may be no more inspiring event than WOMEN IN FOCUS at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange.

And so, following an elegant VIP luncheon Apr. 12 at Chapman’s Marion Knott Studios, students and film school supporters packed the venue’s Folino Auditorium to hear six top women filmmakers share their thoughts and experiences.

Given this year’s theme of “Women In Comedy,” the panel included Maya Rudolph, of “Saturday Night Live;” Diablo Cody, the Oscar-winning writer of “Juno;” Anne Fletcher, director of  “The Guilt Trip;” Nancy Meyers, director of “What Women Want;” Penelope Spheeris, director of “Wayne’s World;” and Donna Langley, co-chair of Universal Pictures.

Chapman professor Alexandra Rose, an Oscar winning producer for the classic “Norma Rae,” starting the program by welcoming the crowd with a few thoughts about a women’s place from Betty Friedan, one of the original feminists, as well as from Sheryl Sandberg, author of blockbuster best-seller-of-the-minute, “Lean In.” Chapman professor Dawn Taubin next introduced panelists, acting as moderator throughout. Taubin is former head of marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures.

Here are just a few of the day’s words of wisdom…

Diablo Cody said she saw a promising future because while men have been telling their stories a long time, many women’s stories have yet to be told.

“Believe in your passion,” advised Donna Langley, relating how no one thought her idea for making “Mama Mia” was a good one. Yet she persevered and the film was a great success.

Maya Rudolph emphasized the importance of writing.  “It’s really important to have your own voice,” she said, adding that writing gives you a voice.

Anne Fletcher said she believed the climate is changing “drastically” in favor of women. “Stay in your strength,” she told the audience. “Stay in your truth.”

Penelope Spheeris said she only realized recently that many of her problems stemmed from her being a woman and told a story about how she once let the air out of a man’s tires to make a point. If she could advise her 21 year-old self, she said, she’d suggest letting the air out of more tires.

Nancy Meyers spoke of one of her early films, “Private Benjamin,” which had the unique distinction of a starring a female, Goldie Hawn, in the lead role. She then recalled Hawn’s surprise when the film opened and she first saw that there wasn’t a single man’s name on the movie marquee.

So if the day’s message was that things are looking up for women in today’s world of filmmaking, there still may be a need to take the air out a few tires.

Happily for those who wanted a word with the panelists, all stuck around for a post-event reception with students.

 

Top photo:  From left, moderator Dawn Taubin with speakers Maya Rudolph, Diablo Cody, Anne Fletcher, Nancy Meyers, Penelope Spheeris, and Donna Langley at Women in Focus at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts (photo: Michael Munson)

Second photo: From left, event sponsors Eve Kornyei Ruffatto, Diana Martin, Adrienne Brandes, Harriet Sandhu, Twyla Martin and Laurie Rodnick at Women in Focus at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts  (photo: Michael Munson)

Third photo: From left, Chapman professor Alex Rose, panelist Nancy Meyers, former panelist Debra Martin Chase and moderator Dawn Taubin at Women in Focus at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts (photo: Michael Munson)

Fourth photo: Chapman graduate film student Shayna Cohen, left, receives the Meredith MacRae Award from Susan Cartsonis, chair of the Women in Film Foundation, at Women in Focus at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts   (photo: Michael Munson)

 

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Women in Focus at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

Published Apr. 17, 2013 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA