Interview: Amy Scott talks about her Hal Ashby documentary ‘Hal’ and improved opportunities for women filmmakers at Oklahoma City’s deadCenter Film Featival

0 Flares 0 Flares ×
Filmmaker and Oklahoma native Amy Scott. Photo provided by Sundance Institute

Filmmaker and Oklahoma native Amy Scott. Photo provided by Sundance Institute

Amy Scott returned to her home state last week to show her documentary “Hal” at Oklahoma City’s deadCenter Film Festival, and she stopped by the NewsOK video studios at The Oklahoman to chat with me about making the movie.

A Lawton native who attended the University of Oklahoma, Scott makes her directorial debut with “Hal,” a profile of the late, great filmmaker Hal Ashby, who made classic movies like “Harold and Maude,” “Shampoo,” “Coming Home,” “Being There” and the Woody Guthrie showcase “Bound for Glory.” Despite his impressive output, Ashby isn’t a household name, and she said she wanted to “lift him into the spotlight.”

“Everyone knows (Martin) Scorsese; a lot of people know Robert Altman. There’s a number of filmmakers in the ‘70s that we’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s a household name,” she said.”He (Ashby) made those films in a row, so he made these phenomenal works of art that sort of defined this generation of American cinema – and I wanted to people to know that. And I wanted people to know that the themes of his films, I feel like, even though they were made in the ‘70s, they’re extremely relevant today.”

Taking the director’s chair

Now based in Los Angeles, Scott has been editing movies for more than a decade. She said she was inspired to helm her first film after reading Nick Dawson’s biography “Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel.”

“It was a fascinating look at his life and his journey. And I just connected with Hal because he was an editor for a number of years, won an Oscar for editing ‘In the Heat of the Night.’ And he directed his first film when he was 40, and I thought, ‘Hmm, OK, it’s not too late,” Scott said.

Ashby died Dec. 27, 1988, at the age of 59, of pancreatic cancer. Since “Hal” is the official Hal Ashby documentary, Scott said she got to work with his estate on the project.

“They were wonderful. They literally gave me the key to his studio space … and it was a treasure trove,” Scott said.

Seeing more opportunities

Along with deadCenter, where it received the Special Jury Documentary Feature prize, “Hal” has shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the Chicago Critics Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival.

It is playing today and Sunday at the AFI Docs Film Festival in Washington, D.C., and Sunday at the Oak Cliff Film Festival in Dallas, Texas. The documentary will make its European debut  during the June 20-July 1 Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland.

Scott said she is pleased to join the ranks of women directors at this time of change for the industry. She has been looking forward to hosting a screening for members of the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, and she is eager to look at over that audience as a woman.

“I can’t wait to look out in the audience and see the number of how many women vs. men are in the audience. Things are changing for the better,” she said.

“I feel like for a long time maybe I was more comfortable in the edit bay because I didn’t have the confidence yet or really was able to find my voice as a director. But I found it, and I think part of that is because of what’s happening now and the empowerment that everyone has for women in the industry. It’s very exciting.”

It’s important for female filmmakers to be able to have opportunities to make the movies they want to make, she said, even films that aren’t specifically about women or “women’s issues.”

“I made a documentary about a white man, so I didn’t make a feminist-based film. But I think just having a seat at the table, having the opportunity to receive quality scripts, to get the call to be a female DP (director of photography) or a female editor. These are all jobs that typically skew in the direction of men. But it’s just really exciting to me what’s going on right now. It’s really important. I feel very lucky to be doing this right now,” Scott said.

The film will be released in U.S. theaters Sept. 7. To see my video interview with Scott, click here.

-BAM

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×
explore: | | | | |