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Liz W. Garcia’s directorial debut, “The Lifeguard,” starring Kristen Bell, premiered in competition at Sundance in 2013. She is currently writing “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3” for Alloy Entertainment. In television, she started her writing career on cult hit “Wonderfalls,” then served as a writer/producer on four seasons of the CBS crime drama “Cold Case,” winning a GLAAD award for her episode “Best Friends.” She is the co-founder of WomenScribes, an online mentorship program for emerging female and female-identifying screenwriters.
“One Percent More Humid” will premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on April 21.
W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.
Lwg: This is a film about grief. Sorry! There are some laughs, too, and it’s sexy, I promise. But essentially, this is a movie about the effect of grief on the friendship of two young women.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
Lwg: The story is an amalgam of true stories about young people and fatal car accidents. I was drawn to the prospect of writing my main characters out of their grief. That’s a pattern for me with all my projects — I want to write characters out of pain.
This particular idea begged to be written because I wrote it when I was the age of these characters, and I set it the world I grew up in, in Connecticut. It was about lust I felt, loneliness I felt, and the places in the natural world that moved me. Plus, I might’ve become a poet like Iris, who’s played by Juno Temple, but instead someone signed me up for a screenwriting class, and so it went.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
Lwg: A great movie experience for me is stumbling out of the theater speechless because I’m still in the world of the film. So, I’d like either that or lots of chatting about how freakin’ brilliant the actors are, because they so are.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
Lwg: This film took 15 years to make. We faced every challenge, but certainly the subject matter — two young women and their emotional journey — was an obstacle. But along the way I directed my first film, the medium changed from celluloid to digital which lowered our budget, and other female filmmakers made strides that made us less of an anomaly, less of a risk.
W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at Tribeca?
Lwg: I grew up in Connecticut, backyard to the greatest city in the world. We shot this film the Hudson Valley. Therefore, the film will play to an audience of our cast, crew, my family, childhood friends, and some of the most rabid art and cinema fans in the world.
My philosophy is that the only way to survive moviemaking is to find the personal joy — the little moments that make it all worth it. Those moments generally stop when the film is finished, because after that is the cruel unknown. To have this extra chapter of recognition and celebration on the timeline of this film is wildly cool.
W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?
Lwg: Best advice: If someone on your crew is giving you trouble, take them aside right away and tell them it can’t stand. If it happens again, fire them immediately. That was from Frank Oz. And my husband, actor/producer Josh Harto, taught me to approach sex scenes as you would a dance or chase scene — it’s just choreography. You go here, you go here, you go here.
Worst advice: Early on I was told to let someone else direct this script.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
Lwg: Be you. Do you. Don’t try to blend in. Don’t try to assuage anyone’s fear about the female voice. The only joy you can count on in filmmaking are the few moments when your vision matches up with your ability — don’t mitigate those moments by betraying your vision.
Sometimes it’s useful to be a woman on a set full of men, particularly when they fight among themselves, which they do all the time. But remember that your job is not to be the peacemaker. That’s a role that may kick in instinctively because we’ve had to be diplomatic and synthesize male voices to find a seat at the table in this business. But you’re the director now. Your job is to listen, see if anything they’re saying is useful to what you want to do, and if so, use it — if not, tell them to stop fighting and get back to making the movie.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.
Lwg: I am actually confident that the numbers are going to change. The conversation has had real impact in the industry. I feel a change. I feel the “wokeness” of men who hire directors, the empowered attitude of women who hire directors, and the overdue shame and sheepishness from studios and agents. There are dinosaurs who don’t get it, but they’ll get gobbled up soon enough.
That said, after the ratio of female to male directors reaches something close to parity, there will still be battles because the sexism will show up elsewhere — in the film’s distribution deal, the critical response, the distributor’s willingness to spend money on awards campaigns. The idea that male is universal and female is niche is so fundamental to global patriarchy that it’ll take a couple more eras to fade. But we have to start somewhere and I do believe it’s started.
Tribeca 2017 Women Directors: Meet Liz W. Garcia — “One Percent More Humid” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Laura Berger
1 item from 2017
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