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Women in Film oral history interview, 2007 July 12 : Martha Coolidge

Author: Martha Coolidge; Linda Feferman; Women in Film (Organization); Women in Film Foundation.
Edition/Format:   Film : Film   Visual material : English
Publication:Women in Film Foundation Legacy Series.
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Martha Coolidge (1946-) begins the discussion by noting that she prefers to wear comfortable clothing and shoes when she directs, particularly blues jeans and t-shirts. She continues with her thoughts on what a women should wear to get a job as a director and suggests that it's very important to show confidence and the ability to take charge. She continues with her relocation from New York to Montréal, Canada in  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Oral history
Interviews
Named Person: Martha Coolidge; Nicolas Cage; Francis Ford Coppola; Diane Ladd; Laura Dern; Robert Duvall; Renny Harlin; Calder Willingham; Elmer Bernstein; Ray Stark; Geena Davis; Walter Matthau; Jack Lemmon
Material Type: Film
Document Type: Visual material
All Authors / Contributors: Martha Coolidge; Linda Feferman; Women in Film (Organization); Women in Film Foundation.
OCLC Number: 423678500
Notes: 2.2-hour interview completed under the auspices of the Women in Film Foundation.
Materials not viewed. Length of interview and summary based on transcript.
Responsibility: interviewer, Linda Feferman.

Abstract:

Martha Coolidge (1946-) begins the discussion by noting that she prefers to wear comfortable clothing and shoes when she directs, particularly blues jeans and t-shirts. She continues with her thoughts on what a women should wear to get a job as a director and suggests that it's very important to show confidence and the ability to take charge. She continues with her relocation from New York to Montréal, Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s where she got a job in television as a production assistant and became active in the separatist movement in Québec. She continues with her move back to New York to attend New York University's film school. She then mentions her move to Los Angeles after being an independent filmmaker in New York making documentaries before returning to Canada and moving to Toronto where she directed a mini-series segment for the CBC that led to a job directing a feature film for Zoetrope before the production company went bankrupt. She continues with how she later met a guy who had taken her out to dinner who told her about a low budget picture he and his partner were interested in making called VALLEY GIRL. She continues with her reading the script, liking it, and agreeing to direct the film, which was released in 1983. She then discusses the success of VALLEY GIRL (1983) and her entry into directing teen exploitation films while under contract for Paramount. She continues with her directing NATIONAL LAMPOON'S THE JOY OF SEX (1984), REAL GENIUS (1985), and MGM buying out her contract with Paramount. She then discusses the casting session for VALLEY GIRL (1983), choosing Nicholas Cage (1964-) for the lead role, and her relationship with Zoetrope and Francis Coppola (1939-). She continues with casting and directing the motion picture, RAMBLING ROSE (1991), and working with Diane Ladd (1932-), Laura Dern (1967-), Robert Duvall (1931-), Renny Harlin (1959-), writer Calder Willingham (1922-1995) and composer Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004). She continues with the success of RAMBLING ROSE (1991) and how it pulled her out of directing teen comedies into more serious fare. She continues with her choice to direct Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS (1993), working with producer Ray Stark at Columbia, and noting that the film was the first to be cut on an Avid. She continues with her next project, ANGIE (1994), and working with Geena Davis (1956-). She continues with the challenges of balancing a directing career with motherhood, bringing her son and his nanny with her on the set, and her divorce from her first husband. She continues with meeting her second husband on location while directing OUT TO SEA (1997), working with Walter Matthau (1920-2000) and Jack Lemmon (1925-2001), and directing THE PRINCE AND ME (2004) and INTRODUCING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE (1999). She then discusses joining the Directors Guild of America (DGA) after directing NATIONAL LAMPOON'S THE JOY OF SEX (1984), becoming active in the guild, her election to the guild's board of directors, and representing the Creative Rights Committee, a committee she chaired for ten years. She continues with her election as the first female president of the DGA in 2002, the guild's more corporate culture, the challenges representing an organization, and her contribution applying more serious pressure on the networks and production companies to hire more women and minorities in television production. She continues with current projects directing some television episodes, especially episodes of CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (2002-), differences she perceives between film and television production in that a film takes a lot longer to get made, and that in television it is common for a producer to communicate the vision or "look" of the show to an incoming director. She continues with how she overcame the obstacle of becoming a woman director in a male-dominated profession, ageism in the motion picture industry, and her advice to young women pursuing careers as directors.

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