Thanks for stopping by. You look great. How's the family? Also, I really need you to go see Austenland.
I know that sounds self-interested, but it’s not as much as you might think. Yes I wrote the book (and co-wrote the screenplay) but no writer can claim ownership of any product. Even though I write every word of my books, there are still a team of people involved who have a rightly earned piece of its success: editor, copy editor, publisher, agent, publicist, distributor, bookseller, etc. A movie likewise is not an author’s but is a huge team effort, and in movies, the team is much, much larger. So many people are involved in making a movie. Austenland is not mine.
Did you know most writers are paid a flat fee for their book option or screenplay and won’t make more money regardless if the movie is a great success? But sure, I still have some interest in it. For one thing, if the movie does well, the book Austenland will probably sell more copies. Also it’ll be more likely that my other books might be made into movies.
Still there’s a larger question here that’s really important to me. Stay with me, I'm about to lay down a little Derrida.
French philosopher Jacques Derrida spoke about binary opposites (good & evil, up & down, light & dark) and whenever we have binary opposites, we tend to put them into a hierarchy, one dominating the other.
Between comedy and tragedy, tragedy is considered more important.
Between romance and realism, realism is considered more important. (btw Romance in its truest form includes fantasy.)
Between men and women, men are considered more important.
(If you’re skeptical about this, look at lists of awards for movies and books. Realistic, tragic movies and books that are by and about men will greatly outnumber everything else, except in children's novels, where realistic/historical/drama will still dominate though there are more females involved.)
So we made a comedic, romantic movie by/about women. Three strikes against it. I anticipate: it will earn little respect; many reviewers will dismiss it; probably all awards will ignore it. Most who like it--even love it-- will likely add a caveat, because our society mocks anyone who claims to be an intellectual and/or a feminist and still admits to enjoying an estrogen-drenched romantic comedic movie.
Additionally, this is a movie written, directed, produced by, and starring women. This is extremely rare in Hollywood. Like four-leaf-clover rare. Big Foot sighting rare. Prime rib rare. Me-in-a-bikini rare. (feel free to add your own rares.)
In general, Hollywood is reactionary. Hollywood follows the money. When deciding which movies to back, Hollywood looks at how like-movies have performed (or what it considers like-movies). Hollywood is built by investors who naturally want to put money behind what is least risky with the highest profit potential--and that means backing what has proven successful in the past. And Hollywood doesn’t have enough data on female-made-and-led movies. There just aren't enough of them. There are some obvious blockbusters, but Hollywood is wary of those.
Twilight: a fluke (yes, after five films people are still saying this)
Harry Potter: yeah it was written by a woman but it stars a boy so it doesn’t count
Hunger Games: Katniss is a masculine girl and the story is action/violence driven so counts as a guy movie (yes, people really say this too)
There are so many movies written by and starring men that have succeeded that if a few flop, it doesn’t worry the Hollywood numbers. But there are so few movies written by and starring women that if even one underperforms, suddenly you will see all other female-written-and-featuring projects pulled before they get a chance to be filmed. (this has happened many times and is currently happening this year.)
Please, go see Austenland. Vote with your wallet. Please, go see The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Encourage those skeptics in Hollywood. Convince them that backing something with a few women in it and written by women isn’t such a huge risk. People do want variety. They do want to hear women’s voices. They do want to see actual real women on the screen doing things besides just getting saved in the end and kissing the male star.
Ladies, go have a girls’ night. Or take your men along. It’s good for them. Men, be not afraid of girl cooties. The more voices the better. When women get the chance to make movies too, more voices are heard. Hollywood hears money louder than any other voice. We need your ticket. New York and Los Angeles, if you go see a movie this weekend, please make it Austenland. Next week City of Bones opens nationally and Austenland opens in select cities. Sony Pictures Classics has released a preliminary schedule of theaters and dates, hopefully with more announced soon. So go, if you must, out of a sense of equality and charity and goodwill. But stay for an outrageously funny and sweet natured and heart-poundingly romantic flick.
We are a bunch of chicks. And we made a really fun movie.