Join SBIFF for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting in the door, part of 2010 SBIFF Women's Panel: Creative Women in the Business.
(Music playing.) Jeff: Welcome all of you to today's panel, Creative Forces: Women in the Business. It's my honor to introduce our panel today, starting off with Erin Cressida Wilson, screenwriter of Chloe. Rachel Tanner, casting of A Serious Man, and my wife Margo's cousin, Joan Sobel, editor, A Single Man.
Our favorite moderator and a great friend of our festival Madelyn Hammond. Amanda Pope, director, The Desert of Forbidden Art. Sarah Siegel-Magness, producer of Precious. And Bonnie Arnold, producer of The Last Station.
Welcome, and have fun. Madelyn Hammond: So it is my pleasure to moderate this panel. I think this is fourth year in doing it. It's one of my most favorite things I do all year. So I want to just introduce our panelists just a little bit more, give you an idea of some of their accomplishments, because they're pretty extraordinary and I'm delighted to be here. And by the way, we have, as Jeff pointed out, Precious that Sarah-- Where's Sarah? Sarah, Precious has been nominated for 6 nominations, Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Lead Actress, Supporting Actress and Film Editing.
And Last Station, Bonnie on the end, two nominations. Best Actress for Helen Mirren. Best Supporting Actor, Single Man. Colin Firth, for those of you that are here tonight, he will be here. Serious Man, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and on the end we have only Erin who's has got Chloe coming out on the March 26 through Sony Classics, so. Okay, so to give you a little bit of insight into the background.
So, on my far right Bonnie Arnold, yes, she's producer of The Last Station, but she's been in animation for 17 years. She did Toy Story, Tarzan, Over the Hedge. Her early producing work was Slugger's Wife, Mosquito Coast, Mighty Queen, Revenge, Dances with Wolves. She worked with Kevin Costner on a few films. Sarah, producer of Precious as we said, and she is co-founder of a company called Smokewood Entertainment with her husband Gary. Not only had they produced Precious, but they also executive produced Tennessee. That's were I guess they met Lee Daniels, which we'll talk about, and her upcoming projects include a film based on the Judy Moody book series, and she's doing a documentary about indigenous tribes in Brazil.
Amanda Pope is a director, producer, writer. Most recently she directed, this is the best name, "The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club." (Laughter.) I love it. It's about a woman aviator from Pasadena society, and we'll talk about that in just a minute, but I love that title. Also she's done Basis of Change, about the emerging leaders in former USSR, and as Jeff said, Desert of Forbidden Art. It's her most recent one. In addition she's also done public television documentaries. Jackson Pollock, Houseman Directs Lear, and Cities for People.
Joan Sobal. Sobal or Sobel? Joan Sobel: Sobel. Madelyn Hammond: Sobel, to my left, editor. She began her editing career as an assistant editor for Academy Award nominated document-- for two documentarian women, Susan Bowman and Barbara Coppel, who I'm sure many of you in the audience know and they are fantastic. What a way to learn the business. She also worked with Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino on Kill Bill, and her work includes, The Quiet, Harsh Times, Suburban Girl. Rachel Tenner, casting director. Oh, we'll clap, we can clap all the way thorough in the beginning, middle and end.
They are pretty extraordinary. I think we should erupt into it. Rachel Tanner, casting director and producer. 15 years she's worked on Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, What Women Want, Altman's The Company, Good Night and Good Luck, Leatherheads. She worked with the Coen brothers a lot, on Intolerable Cruelty, Lady Killers, No Country for Old Men, Burn After, A Serious Man. In addition she is a producer and she's produced a film call Quick Stop. And last but not least Erin Cressida Wilson, screenwriter, playwright, author, professor.
As I mentioned she has Chloe coming out through Sony Classics. Currently wrote and executive produced a pilot with for Oprah for HBO. She has adapted Penny in Love, a novel, for Tony and Ridley Scott. She is a professor and the Head of Dramatic Writing at University California at Santa Barbara, which is great. She is writing her first children's book and before all this, her prior work included screenplays that she worked on, that she did for Secretary, for Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus, and next out for her is The Hunger, for Tony Scott through Warner Brothers, and a film called The Resident, starring Hillary Swank.
So I just wanted to do that. I mean, gosh, when you look at this, it just gives you an idea into these amazing women. I'm so pleased to be here and my first question to each of you, just to kind of get thing's going is, we all got into starting the business somehow. Someone reached out and gave us a break, and so I'm going to start with Erin. Who helped to get into the business, and tell us just quickly about why this, how it all came about, and who there is to thank? Erin Cressida Wilson: Well, that would be Steven Shainberg, who directed and produced Secretary.
I had been working for over 10 years as a playwright. And I had my initial bump from George Lynn, my agent. He's my agent to this day for over 20 years, but Steve sent me the short story of Secretary and asked me to make it into a screenplay. And we had been friends and known each other, because he knew my plays. I had written stage plays for a long time in New York, and he taught me to write screenplays, basically. And then we did another. He's it. I thank God for him, and I think we all need that "it person," who pushes us over the edge.
Madelyn Hammond: Or who believes in us. Rachel... Rachel Tanner: Mine would be a woman in Jane Brody in Chicago. She had a company called Jane Brody Casting, and when I graduated from college, and was trying to figure out what I was going to do, allowed me-- Not only did I start as an intern, but she gave me so much responsibility from the get-go, so that I really got to fully understand and practice casting immediately. So it allowed me to basically be part time, full time, and buy the company, like within two years and it's been the only thing I have ever done, so.
Madelyn Hammond: That's pretty amazing. Joan... Joan Sobel: Well, I think there is a lot of luck involved in getting into this business. I started out as an illustrator. I was an artist, and actually got into the business through a friend of mine who was working for the BBC and did a small documentary back in New York, and asked me if I wanted to work in the cutting room. And I found that I loved it so much, because it was so visual, and it was a way to almost expand upon what I was working on with illustration. So I have to thank my friend Kathie Newcome, who got me into the business, and then there were so many other people who I would thank.
Caryl Littleton has been a wonderful friend of mine, and Steven Marioni, who you are probably working with. I would have to say them also. Madelyn Hammond: Amanda. Amanda Pope: Oh, I think one of the most important things for anybody interested in coming into the business is to volunteer. Now this is volunteering with a little bit of discretion here. You don't want to volunteer for just anybody, but if you look around your neighborhood, I was in New York.
I volunteered to work actually to rewrite the narration for a film on Albert Schweitzer, and the editor who had volunteered, just because that's the kind of person she is, is Dede Allen. And Dede Allen is one of the great editor. She edited Reds, Bonnie and Clyde, and it turned out that her husband was the head of a documentary unit at ABC. And I didn't know that when I offered to work on the project, but that's how I got into the field.
Sarah Siegel Magness: Well, I'm actually an entrepreneur person foremost, which we all are, of course, in the film business. But I started out in the business world and somebody who worked for with Lee Daniels came to my husband and I, about Tennessee. And we came in late in the game as executive producers. But Lee Daniels and I, and my husband, ended up cultivating an amazing relationship. And he sort of is not only our partner, but really my mentor. I've spent the last three years making films with him.
We've done two together, and I have really gotten my 'MBA' in movie making by working with somebody like Lee, who is just a maverick in this business. So I was lucky enough to fall into it, and privileged to be able to continue to work in this business, and actually be making projects that are being recognized, which is wonderful, and having audiences go see them. Madelyn Hammond: And Bonnie...
Bonnie Arnold: Well, I think the big change-- Actually, I'm from Atlanta, Georgia and I was working in Atlanta on small film projects. That's what I always wanted to do. And working there in the community. And I ended up working on a very small film with David Picker, who was a well known studio executive in Hollywood. And he was producing kind of a low budget film, and during that film he was called to become the President of Columbia Pictures, and he asked me, I was the production coordinator.
So I was always, you know, already working small jobs in a small market. And he said, what do you want to do? And I said I want to be a producer. And he said, well, you have to get out of Atlanta. So when the film was over, he invited me to come work for him at Columbia Pictures. And I asked someone, shall I do this? They said, well, when you get invited to Hollywood, you got to go. So I picked all up and moved to Hollywood. Madelyn Hammond: Bonnie and I similarly, I grew up in Atlanta. I worked for Coca-Cola. At one time Coca-Cola owned Columbia Pictures, and I was the-- And I worked for Picker too.
Maybe we were there around the same time, and my first job was making sure that all the trailers before the films got up on screens. So I packed up the bag and came for the same thing.