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Sundance Women Directors: Meet Rose McGowan

By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood January 21, 2014 at 2:00PM

"I'm fascinated by girl culture in this time period [the 1960s]. I wanted to explore what happens when societal expectations brainwash someone into ignoring their intuition. "
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Still from "Dawn"
Still from "Dawn"

Actress-turned-director Rose McGowan (Grindhouse, TV's Charmed) was born in Italy and raised on a steady diet of pasta, European cinema, and classic films. Along with her cinephile father, she became an amateur film historian, later hosting a show on a classic movie channel. Realizing that her passion lies in filmmaking has been a transformative experience for McGowan. She recently stated in an interview, "Directing wasn't particularly challenging. I find acting more challenging.... I'm used to handling a lot. I run a tight ship. I find acting harder because I have no control in that. I kept waiting for the panic attack to happen while directing, but it just didn't.... I like acting, but if I never act again, I'll be okay."

The 17-minute short "Dawn," McGowan's directorial debut, debuted at Sundance on January 16th.

Please give us your description of the film.

Dawn is about a young girl in Kennedy-era America who's searching for something more in her sheltered life and winds up finding more than she bargains for. 

What drew you to this story?

I'm fascinated by girl culture in this time period. I wanted to explore what happens when societal expectations brainwash someone into ignoring their intuition. 

What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

I had a broken foot during shooting. Running up and down the mountain with a boot on was challenging. The rest was just thrilling. 

What advice do you have for other female directors?

Don't wait for others to "let" you make your film. Believe in yourself and your abilities and go big. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by honoring your vision. 

What's the biggest misconception about you and your work?

As far as acting goes, I've been luckier than some and unluckier than others. My career is pretty haphazard and has maybe led others to have a myopic view of me. Other people's preconceived notions are really not my issue. I just keep walking forward. 

Do you have any thoughts on what are the biggest challenges and/or opportunities for the future with the changing distribution mechanisms for films?

I suppose it'll be getting men to trust me with money. We'll see. I like the VOD of it all. It's a whole new world. 

Name your favorite women directed film and why.

My favorite vampire film is Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark. The score, the tension -- it's brilliant. However, Ida Lupino is my hero. 

This article is related to: Rose McGowan, Dawn, Interviews, Film Festivals, Sundance Film Festival, Women Directors


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