The new film Pitch Perfect comes out today in select theaters and it is already getting great reviews (watch the trailer below.) Centered on a struggling college female a capella group who finally find their voice, it stars comedy it girl Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Bachelorette) as well as Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Anna Camp. Elizabeth Banks produces the comedy. Though it may seem like Glee was the big influence for this one, this girl-heavy ensemble piece, penned by 30 Rock and New Girl scribe Kay Cannon, is another result of ‘The Bridesmaids Effect. ‘
As I have said many times, Bridesmaids was a game changer for women in the film industry. “For 10 years, people were really afraid that there wasn’t an audience for an R-rated female-centric comedy,” says Bachelorette writer/director Leslye Headland. “(Bridesmaids) proved that there was. I think it will get hundreds of movies made.” Not only did Bridesmaids make $288 million worldwide but it also earned two Oscar nominations. According to Hollywood Reporter writer David Friendly the Bridesmaids effect has resulted in all the major film studios asking “Where’s our Bridesmaids?!”
“‘Bridesmaids’ I think opened up a door to allow women to show a bunch of different women in different ways of being funny. It was kind of like an arrival moment,” Cannon said. “Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, they made it cool to be funny and to be embarrassed and to look a thousand different ways and show a bunch of different areas of their lives.” Cannon said Bridesmaids definitely helped her film get made.
Earlier this month The Grindstone interviewed Katie Anne Nylon and Lauren Miller, the writers of For A Good Time Call. The film is about two 20-something female roommates that start a phone sex line out of their apartment. Though it is really a sweet story about female friendship it is set in the context of something very raunchy, so a lot of studios passed. But once Bridesmaids came out, the phone started ringing and now the film is out in theaters. Other writers like Liz Meriwether (New Girl) Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project) Rashida Jones (Celeste and Jesse Forever), Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks) and cleary Nylon and Miller all benefited from Bridesmaids.
“Really what you see in the last 10 years is … this groundswell of female writers and sometimes female directors being accepted by the comedy community,” said Leslye Headland, writer and director of the film Bachelorette, also of the same genre. “And then you get to 2011, where Bridesmaids did something that’s actually never been done, which is an R-rated, female-centric comedy that makes money.”
This trend is leading to the creation of better parts for women.We are seeing women in film and television with real problems, talking about real issues and making mistakes. Headland said, “These writers … are adept at really expressing those characters and writing those stories because I’m assuming they’re struggling with the same thing I am, which is: What’s going to happen to us? And what do we want to say to the women before us and also the women coming up after us? There are new problems with being a woman that no one’s talked about. There are new dilemmas that are coming up that just haven’t really quite been articulated.”
In an interview at Sundance Bachelorette star Lizzy Caplan said, “When you’re a girl in a movie, you mostly get to say, ‘Now behave, boys.’ In Bachelorette we got to act as bad as the guys do.” She said this whole cinematic movement means better roles for actresses in general. When talking with her actress collegues she says, “”The dinner parties are far more enjoyable since no one is saying, ‘Why do we have to watch boys do everything fun?’ It’s just not like that anymore.”
“There’s something to women writing for themselves, women writing for women, that just feels a lot more honest and therefore a lot funnier,” Anna Kendrick said in an interview with the AP.
However, women are still the minority in most writers’ rooms and in directing. According to the Center for Study of Women in Television and Film, only 68% of all shows don’t even have a female writer on staff. Women made up only 16% 0f all directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2010. This was a 1% decrease from 1998, according to a study by Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D and director of the Center of The Study Of Women In Television and Film. “It is my impression that women are still viewed as “riskier hires” and, as a result, are not considered for the big-budget, high-profile films and/or films in genres other than romantic comedy and romantic drama,” Lauzen said in an interview last year.
But with female-driven comedies, we seem to be making some headway.