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Sundance Women Producers: Meet Katie Stern

Interviews
by Melissa Silverstein
January 20, 2014 6:00 PM
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Elisabeth Moss and Jason Schwartzman in "Listen Up Philip"
Elisabeth Moss and Jason Schwartzman in "Listen Up Philip"

Listen Up Philip producer Katie Stern grew up in New York City. At a young age, she started making movies with her older brother, many of which have appeared on public access television. She has worked on numerous feature films for directors such as Todd Solondz, Kelly Reichardt, and Robert DeNiro. 

Listen Up Philip will debut at Sundance on January 20th.

Please give us your description of the film. 

Listen Up Philip is a New York story about a newly accomplished writer and the ways in which his mistakes, miseries, and bad decisions affect everyone around him. 

At what stage did you get involved with the project? 

In early 2012, Alex sent me the script and I just loved it. It made me laugh out loud and cry and that balance was really exciting to me. We continued to discuss it as he worked on new drafts, and I officially came on board about a year before we shot. 

What was the biggest challenge in making the film? 

Shooting an independent film in New York City isn't easy, especially one that spans an entire year. We shot winter scenes in the dead of summer and broke up the shoot so we could return when the foliage was visibly different. It was challenging, but only forced us to be more creative in our approach. 

What advice do you have for other female producers? 

Don't let fear or intimidation rule you. Be vocal. Ultimately, the most important thing is to support the filmmaker -- male or female -- and make a great movie. 

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 think the changes we are facing are permanent. Supply will continue to outstrip demand. We need the support of daring investors who truly love and care about independent film, the continued growth of crowd funding, the development of technology, the cooperation of the unions and everyone who physically makes the movies, and trusted curators who can sort through the mountain of content and steer audiences to the many great films that are being made. 

Name your favorite women directed film and why. 

It's hard to pick just one, but I think Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. It's an absolute masterpiece -- a beautiful portrait of the monotony and repetition of a middle-class woman's daily life. It makes the unfascinating both fascinating and truly terrifying. Plus, Akerman was only 25 when she made it, which is astonishing. A close second would be Barbara Loden's Wanda.


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