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The power level hit a new high at the 13th Women in Focus film panel at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts on April 20.
Last year’s panelists had current films with over $271 million in worldwide grosses, but the women on the 2012 panel were fresh off projects grossing over $1.6 billion. “It was almost like the six of us were talking in someone’s living room, but there were 400 people watching us,” says Dodge professor and panel moderator Dawn Taubin, former Warner Bros. Pictures marketing head.
How did she lure five Hollywood bigshots to the Orange County event? “I had done a 9-month consulting gig on The Help and War Horse and gotten to know Dreamworks Co-Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider,” says Taubin. “A faculty member knew Nina Jacobson so we asked her, and how lucky were we that a little movie called The Hunger Games came out in the meantime? I met director Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2) at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Entertainment breakfast in December.”
Hairspray writer Leslie Dixon and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants producer Debra Chase Martin were also on the panel.
Chapman students — who unlike those at many film schools are all granted at least $10,000 funding and own all rights to their work — used Twitter to submit questions to the power panelists.
Here are the 12 best tweets the students posted this week about the panelists and what they said:
1. “It’s not a level playing field [for women]. So get over it. Just believe in yourself and get it done!” — Debra Chase Martin
2. “I’m still confounded by how few female directors there are. I don’t get it.” — Stacey Snider
3. “The most powerful decision-making part of the audience is women. Boys have a lot of impact on the industry, but it’s often women who impact what stories get made.” — Nina Jacobson
4. “Sometimes, you just have to go in there and bowl people over with your sheer force of will.” — Jennifer Yuh Nelson
5. “As a producer, you can’t break up w/your own project. It’s like sleeping with someone that you don’t like…Forever.” — Nina Jacobson
6. “Stay positive. Do what you need to stay happy. Even if that includes illegal activity.” — Leslie Dixon
7. “It’s like being the general of an army [directing a film]. You send people out to die.” — Jennifer Yuh Nelson
8. “One rule of screenwriting: does the reader want to turn the page?” — Leslie Dixon
9. “[On The Hunger Games‘ success]: “It hit on the zeitgeist of the disparity b/w the haves and have nots.” — Nina Jacobson
10. “[On the racial backlash about Hunger Games casting]: “People should have ignored the five racist idiots.” — Nina Jacobson
11. “I — and I bet all the panelists here — truly believe that movies really can change the world.” — Stacey Snider
12. “It’s an exciting time, when you can make your movie on a cellphone. If it’s good, it WILL get noticed.” — Nina Jacobson
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