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Ten Years After Twilight, Catherine Hardwicke Talks Female Directors

Female directors remain as rare as vampires.

Love it, hate it, enjoy making fun of it… you couldn’t escape Twilight for a long time, from the days the books were published to the highly popular movie adaptations. With the ten year anniversary of the first film approaching, Pop Sugar took the time to speak with the director of the first film, Catherine Hardwicke, about the franchise. While Hardwicke directed the first film, and even saved the script from total disaster, she was not invited back to work on the subsequent installments, despite the film being the highest grossing live action film directed by a woman prior to Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman.

Initially, Hardwicke tossed the script for Twilight after she was given it as part of a bundle of scripts from Summit. However, something drew her back to the story, and she discovered that it was based on Stephenie Meyer’s book. Apparently, the original draft was so far removed from the source material that it included a scene where Bella escapes FBI agents while on a Jetski. Hardwicke pushed for the script to be re-written so that it was more in line with the original story.

Her dedication to the source material paid off, with a massive opening and huge box office turnout. However, Hardwicke told Pop Sugar that it was a gamble in the studio’s eyes, saying that people kept telling her that women would not go see this movie, and that it could maybe expect to make about $30 million in it’s opening weekend. For the record, it made $69 million domestically opening weekend, and made $192 million domestically alone. Again, this record wouldn’t come close to being broken by a live action film with a female director until nine years later.

However, Hardwicke views the success as a “mixed blessing,” since it might have shattered the myth about films for women doing well, but that all subsequent Twilight films were made by men, and other projects which saw the light of development following the success of Twilight, such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, also only had male directors. Hardwicke told Pop Sugar that “the person that launched this whole thing was a woman, and other women can do this too.”

While Hardwicke praised Jenkins and Wonder Woman, but also took the time to call out stories that are about women and by women that wind up being directed by men. “Statistically it has been shown that the more women sit behind the camera, the more women invest in front of the camera — composers, sound makers, and everything,” she said. “So, we’re starting to level the playing field a little bit, but we’ve got to get those chances. We’ve still got a long way to go, and I’m excited to be part of it, for sure.”

Hardwicke has a point. One of the reasons Wonder Woman worked is because a woman was behind the camera; there were no lingering butt shots or sexualized poses, just a female hero kicking some serious ass. We’ve only seen about a minute and a half of Captain Marvel, but it already presents Carol as a complex person, not just a sexy heroine. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched the first Twilight movie, but I can’t recall a scene in which Bella was unnecessarily sexualized; Hardwicke definitely shot the film with Bella as the center and focused on her emotions about her relationship with Edward.

This isn’t to say that we can go back and view Twilight as a revolutionary feminist masterpiece, because… well, no. But Hardwicke was given a huge opportunity and saw it through to box office success. Without her vision, the film would’ve likely gone straight to DVD or lingered in development hell forever, so fans of the franchise can thank her for giving them the films they wanted. It’s also a friendly reminder that we need to hire more women behind the scenes to tell stories about women, and that women can direct big name franchise projects. We’re seeing a change with Jenkins, Anna Boden of Captain Marvel fame, and others; also, as always, a shout out to Ava DuVernay, who can deliver genre fare and Oscar-worthy films and who is leading the way for positive change. We just need to continue this trend, so that more women can have room to tell their stories, be they personal dramas or space operas and epics.

(via PopSugar; Image: Little Brown and Company)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.