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Sundance Women Producers: Meet Mynette Louie

Interviews
by Melissa Silverstein
January 19, 2014 3:00 PM
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Still from "Land Ho!"

Producer Mynette Louie has worked on the films Children of InventionCold Comes the Night, and California Solo. Louie is also the current president of Gamechanger Films, which funds women-directed narrative features. She has most recently produced Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz's Land Ho!, which debuts at Sundance on January 19th. 

Please give us your description of the film.

A buddy road-trip comedy featuring a pair of mismatched septaugenarians traipsing through Iceland, trying to get their groove back. While there's a lot of fun, raunchy humor, it's also a moving film that touches on the themes of aging and existentialism.

At what stage did you get involved with the project? 

At the beginning, when Martha and Aaron were still developing their ideas and hadn't written the script yet. All three producers -- Sara Murphy, Christina Jennings, and I -- came on early to collectively try to figure out how to get this film made.

What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Figuring out to pull off a feature film shoot in Iceland when only one of us (Martha) had ever been there! We didn't expect there to be so many differences between Americans and Icelandic folks, both professionally and culturally. So there was quite a high learning curve while getting acclimated to the Icelandic way of doing things. Also, because of our small budget, we couldn't actually be in Iceland that long, so we had to do a lot of prep remotely from the US. It was nerve-wracking to do this, but we found two great Reykjavik-based producers with Vintage Pictures who helped us a lot.

What advice do you have for other female producers?

The same advice I have for all producers -- don't do it unless you MUST. It's a tough gig, and only getting tougher, and you must have the stomach and the stamina for it! It's a stressful roller-coaster ride of a profession.

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

Probably that I only like to make festival-friendly, microbudget indie dramas and comedies. That's not true -- I want to produce all kinds of films because I love all kinds of films. I actually really love horror and would love to do a supernatural horror movie at some point. I've been looking for a while, but haven't found anything I love yet! 

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

As for the opportunities, sadly, I feel like the challenges outweigh them. But I'm still holding out hope for someone to swoop in and fix everything in a way that none of us film industry-entrenched people would expect. I will say that keeping up with the changing distribution landscape is exhausting! It feels like between the time a film of mine gets greenlit to the time it premieres, distribution has morphed and the players have changed.

Name your favorite women directed film and why.

Can't ask a filmmaker to just pick one! Off the top of my head, I love these: Amy Heckerling's CluelessNicole Holofcener's Lovely and Amazing, Penny Marshall's Big, Sharon Maguire's Bridget Jones' Diary, Sofia Coppola's Marie AntoinetteAndrea Arnold's Fish Tank, Kelly Reichardt's Wendy & Lucy, Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz.

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