Spring Showcase Writer #4: Wendy C. Ortiz

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Photo © Meiko Takechi Arquillos

Photo © Meiko Takechi Arquillos

We know that many women—daunted by the Hollywood system and the technicalities of having to learn Final Draft or filmmaking tools—have felt their stories more welcomed in the publishing and journalism worlds than in the scriptwriting worlds. For this reason, we are reaching out to at least one accomplished prose writer for every showcase, to mentor them through the process of scriptwriting, so we can flood the Hollywood market with women’s stories. Our first writer is Wendy C. Ortiz, one of Los Angeles’ brightest literary stars. Author of Excavation: A Memoir (Future Tense Books, 2014) and Hollywood Notebook (Writ Large Press, 2015), Wendy’s also written a year-long monthly column about marijuana in Southern California for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her work is everywhere, and she’s justly getting praised, so we asked her to adapt a short essay, “Spell,” for our Spring Showcase, and it is already phenomenal. Directed by Nora Ephron Prize winner Meera Menon, “Spell” tells the story of a girl’s love affair with words and the teacher who taught them.

1. What are the top 3 movies/plays that have inspired you?

I don’t tend to keep static lists of influences. I think my influences shift and change regularly, sometimes depending on my own projects, or concepts I’m trying to sort out in my life or my work. Lately I’ve been SUPER inspired by television. As for film, influences I can name today (inspiring due to the way the stories treat characters, how beauty can be coaxed from pain and tragedy, how epic these films feel in my current consciousness): Shame by Steve McQueen; The Shining by Stanley Kubrick; Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola.

2. Did you go to film school? What led you to being a writer or director?

I did not go to film school. The most I’ve done in this field is a 16mm filmmaking workshop many years ago in Olympia, Washington. I’ve been a writer since I was a child, first writing ghost stories and poems then later zines and books. It’s taken over my life and guided many decisions I’ve made ever since.

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

 

Being introduced to One Axe is like walking through a door into a world I’ve wanted to imagine existed, and at some points of my life, tried to create something similar into existence. I’m stunned by the generosity, encouragement and warm spirit of collaboration modeled by One Axe so far. There is no reason why I wouldn’t want to collaborate!

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

I’ve been around the block and to many a rodeo and I’m always game for what’s right around the corner.

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Spring Showcase Director #1: Sabrina Weisz

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As a director, Sabrina Weisz has a keen awareness for exactly what a writer had in mind when she wrote a script. Maybe that’s because Weisz is also a writer, and an actor. Like many ladies in the industry, she needed to be everything to survive with limited roles, but now she gets to enjoy the autonomy of that necessity. In our Spring Showcase, Weisz is directing Becky Thyre‘s hilarious absurdist comedy, SANDBOX. With a cast of 5 and a mile-per-minute dialogue, Weisz has her work cut out for her, and we are balls-to-the-wall excited to see this play.
Here’s some words of wisdom from Weisz herself.
1. What are the top 3 movies/plays that have inspired you?
This is so hard because I have been inspired by almost every one I have seen in one way or another. Even the bad ones were a lesson in what doesn’t work. Here are the first three that come to mind.
1) OUT OF AFRICA: Beautiful to look at and a story perfectly told. It also speaks to me as a woman who has always wanted “something of her own.” It’s a feminist story told in a time when there was no such thing.
2) RAISING ARIZONA: A Coen Brothers masterpiece. It’s beyond funny. It’s over-the-top characters feel more real than anyone you have ever met. It’s epic and simple at the same time.
3) DEATH OF A SALESMAN: I saw this show on Broadway when I was in High School. Up until that show, I didn’t know that live theater could have such a profound impact on its audience. I was forever changed by it.
2. Did you go to film school? What led you to being a writer/director?
I went to Loyola Marymount and spent my time there in the Television and Film Production department. I worked on dozens of student films there, both in front of and behind the camera, loving all of it equally.  After graduation, I pursued my acting career but quickly became frustrated by the limited roles I was going up for. Writing and directing for the stage and the web was a lot more gratifying. I have always worn all three hats, sometimes at the same time.
3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?
I simply love the idea of a place that supports female artists. Most stories have been told through a male lens. As more and more women write and direct, we will get a wider, more truthful telling of the human experience.
4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”
I’ve been to Trader Joe’s, and now I am going home to make dinner for my kids… Oh, and I have also been a young girl trying to be what others thought she should be to get work. And, I am going to be a woman who doesn’t give a shit about what other people think of her.

Golden Globes 2015 a Good Sign for Women Creators

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Congratulations to TRANSPARENT creator Jill Soloway for her win at the 2015 Golden Globes. We watched the awards ceremony live and for the first time didn’t cringe constantly. Even if SELMA wasn’t properly honored, we’re still seeing the change with shows like JANE THE VIRGIN. Here’s a recap of the most feminist moments of the show, and check out the Tina Fey & Amy Poehler intro if you haven’t already.