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Joining Obst in this Austin Film Society and Austin Chronicle co-presentation will be four other distinguished local film producers: Dwight Adair (NBC's She Fought Alone), Elizabeth Avellán (El Mariachi, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Real Stories of the Donut Men), Paul Stekler (the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning documentary Vote for Me: Politics in America), and moderator Richard Lewis (National Geographic's Snow Monkey Roundup). We spoke with Obst by phone in her Los Angeles office a few days before her return to Texas.
Austin Chronicle: You get the feeling from reading Hello, He Lied that there's so much left to tell.
And even when you get to the tippy-top of that hierarchy that person's in an Alpha struggle with people at the top of a whole series of other hierarchies. LO: Exactly, or hostile takeovers among corporations. Like we've got to know what's going on, we can't keep our heads in the sand. But at a certain point, if I've lived with material for years and years and I love it to the bones, I can't live with myself if I continue to defer my own instincts. I might have in my personality but haven't been able to because it's my job.
Or whether it's Ted Turner competing with Rupert Murdoch. We're not keeping apace culturally with what the breakthroughs going on in science are. And I've been around long enough to know that the only real form of fascism exists on movie sets. So I've very naturally and organically turned into a waitress.
A full-fledged producer since 1985, the Obst name anchors such films as Heartbreak Hotel (whose location shooting first introduced her to Central Texas); The Fisher King; Nora Ephron's first film, This Is My Life; Ephron's second, Sleepless in Seattle; Bad Girls; One Fine Day; this summer's Contact; and the recently wrapped Hope Floats, which stars Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr.
and was shot in the surrounding area earlier this summer.
This transplanted Texan, who lives in the surrounding Austin area, offers an anecdotal account of her experiences as a woman working in the industry as well as practical advice on such things as the art of pitching, styles of combat, types of business friendships, chains of command, and working with actors and directors.
The book is a witty and incisive survival manual that's chock full of observational advice and wisdom about navigating the power-dominated world of Hollywood moviemaking.Even if success is enough, there's always this guilt complex. But there are so many of our stories that are untold.LO: And moreover, we don't feel good having all the cookies in the cookie jar. n "The Art of Producing" panel with Lynda Obst, Dwight Adair, Elizabeth Avellán, Paul Stekler, and Richard Lewis takes place Saturday, October 4, 1-3pm, at Borders Books (10225 Research).A few of her many future projects include Holy War, to be directed by Ed Zwick later this fall; Ghetto Fabulous, an "action-musical written by supermodel Veronica Webb; Richard Preston's Crisis in the Hot Zone; journalist Sidney Blumenthal's This Town; and the Richard Jewell story.
Obst will participate in a panel discussion titled "The Art of Producing" to be held this Saturday, October 4, 1-3pm, at Borders Books.And my experience is that once this whole generation of Alpha females (who began by mistrusting one another), once they've completed their climb, they've reached out to one another for consolation and support. But to have a hit picture isn't enough for a woman. Once they get there, they're not imagining higher trees to climb. Where are the vacations; where's the husband; where are the children; where are the walks; where are the hikes, you know? But those needs don't vitiate our ability to get to the top. And it has to do with the success of the particular women who broke through the glass ceiling in the first generation. A movie like Breaking the Waves blew my mind because it was ultimately about free will and destiny.