Who would have thought Gwyneth Paltrow's cinematic reach extended behind the camera? On Dec. 8, she, along with a number of other aspiring helmers, made her directorial debut in New York's Union Square at the premier of Glamour's "Reel Moments," a series of five short films based on inspirational real-life stories submitted by the magazine's readers, co-produced with Moxie Pictures. "We were thinking about a way to extend our brand message of what the real DNA of Glamour is," explains associate publisher Leslie Russo. "Glamour, of course, is a fashion/beauty magazine, but for over 60 years we've had a very strong empowerment story for women. So this project was really the embodiment of that, giving a voice to women around the country and having their stories told on the big screen." Beyond that, "We also felt there was this common feeling in the film industry that there were so few opportunities for women both in front of and behind the camera, so it felt like if we were going to tell women's stories, then it made sense that they'd be told by women in the film industry. That worked really nicely together and brought a sense of integrity to the project."
The films will also be released on DVDs enclosed with Glamour's January issue and will be viewable on the Glamour.com website. Featuring stories comedic and dramatic, about subjects like dating, friendship, self-awareness and the workplace, the shorts illustrate moments of women stepping out of their comfort zones, which turned out to be something required of nearly everyone who worked in the project. "Everyone involved, including ourselves, was pushed to do something quite different," says Moxie president Robert Fernandez. To select the readers' stories to be filmed, Moxie first assembled a board of directors comprised of well-known actresses like Lucy Liu and top female Hollywood execs, including William Morris COO Cara Stein and Meryl Poster, former president of production at Miramax and wife of Moxie co-president/director Dan Levinson. Moxie also rounded up the actors to appear in the shorts as well as the directors, who besides Paltrow included Mary Wigmore, Trudie Styler, Talia Lugacy, Jennie Bicks and Lisa Leone. The company also recruited a slew of ad industry women to round out the creative arsenal, including editors like Cosmo Street's Jinx Godfrey and 89 Editorials' Julie Drazen, as well as music company Search Party, which supervised the tunes for all the films.
Fernandez, noting that all the women are talented filmmaker, says, "The one question I get asked all the time, because she's the highest-profile person of the bunch is, 'Did Gwyneth Paltrow know what she was doing as a director?' Absolutely." So much so that Paltrow and Wigmore's co-directed entry, Dealbreaker, was recently accepted at Sundance; moreover Moxie says it's on the verge of signing some of the series' directors to its roster.