Comic-Con's “Women Rocking Hollywood” panel of female directors, as led by Leslie Combemale, was filled with thanks for the support they give each other. Participants in the panel included Victoria Mahoney, Aurora Guerrero, Tina Mabry, Rosemary Rodriguez, Angela Robinson, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Kirsten Schaffer.
“When one rises, we all rise,” said Victoria Mahoney. She and Aurora Guerrero both thanked Ava DuVernay for giving them the opportunity to direct episodes of the OWN series “Queen Sugar,” and for making it clear she wanted them to tell the story in their own ways. Guerrero told us her invitation was: “I love your stuff. I want you to come play in my house. Be you.” And so, Guerrero said, “Now I want to invite my sisters to play in my house, too.”
“At every turn, pick something you’re not comfortable with, something you don’t know you can do,” Mahoney advised the audience, telling us that the opportunity to direct an episode of the OWN series “Queen Sugar” was like “going from a tricycle to a Maserati with a gearshift.” Her goal is to work “without inhibition, without regard for camera or audience, just to connect to the human experience. I’m not a robot or an executor. I leave my house to find the magic, where the crazy stuff lives.”
Guerrero said that as a gay Latina, “I see the world through multiple lenses … The people who write stories that are challenging our society in a good way—that’s my tribe.” Tina Mabry described the advantages of writing, producing, and directing (“I know where the story is going”) and the challenges (“I try to make sure I switch my hats out when I need to”). “We have so many stories to tell,” she said. “Do not let yourself go silent.”
Rosemary Rodriguez has always dreamed of directing a James Bond movie. “I want to go where the guys are. I’ll go with lipstick on, and a dress, but I want to go.” For her, directing is the “grounding presence” to make sure that people who don’t have voices can get their stories told.
It took eight years for writer/director Angela Robinson to get her upcoming film “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” made, but the timing of the fall 2017 release is ideal, following the success of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” film. Robinson’s story of the man who created Wonder Woman is about “men, women, masculinity, femininity, feminism, agro-dude energy, sensitivity, and the intelligence beneath it.” While the story deals with polygamy, bondage, and lie detectors, “I didn’t want it to get super-lurid or scandalous. I wanted the emotional honesty.”
Gina Prince-Bythewood, wearing a t-shirt that said “Strong Female Character,” is the first woman of color to direct a big comic book movie, “Silver & Black.” “Ten pages into the script and I dropped my other film. I had an innate feeling that I was the best person for it. I saw it in my head and so I came into the meeting with a swagger.”
Like the other panelists, she acknowledged the help she got from other women. “I know absolutely that I have this opportunity because of women who haven’t shut up.”