How Being A Mom Influenced Katie Holmes' "Empowering" Directorial Debut

Photo: Amy Sussman/WWD/REX/Shutterstock.
Tonight, the Tribeca Film Festival will premiere Katie Holmes' feature directorial debut, All We Had. Based on a 2014 novel by Annie Weatherwax, the film follows a mother and daughter trying to cope with the Great Recession in 2008.

At the Women's Filmmaker Luncheon hosted by Chanel and Tribeca Productions co-founder Jane Rosenthal, Holmes told Refinery29 that she connected to the material because of her own experience as a mother (to Suri Cruise, 9).

"I was drawn to it because of the characters, but also because I am a mom and I know a mother-daughter dynamic," Holmes said. "It’s not obviously close to my own personal dynamic, but I thought, okay, for directing for the first time, this is in my wheelhouse."

The former Dawson's Creek star was perched at the bar of a downtown restaurant, mingling with Judy Greer, who appears in All We Had, and Jennifer Westfeldt. The place was packed with female filmmakers chatting with each other as they were served cocktails and miniature burgers. The event marked the opening of submission for the second installment of Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program, set to take place in the fall. "You should know who your sister is next to you," Rosenthal said during remarks. "That’s how we’re going to keep the numbers growing in terms of women who are in front of and behind the camera and are creating the stories that are so important in our world."

In preparing to direct, Holmes found that she had a community ready to lend a hand: Rosenthal is the film's producer. "I had dinner with Jane, who is my friend, and said, 'Hey, I found this book I want to direct, will you produce it?' She said yes and hadn’t even read it yet. Then she did it. That kind of support," Holmes explained. "I called my friend Judy Greer. I said, 'Judy, will you do two days on my movie? You would be perfect, but I know your schedule’s really busy.' She’s like, 'Done, yes. I’ll fly myself in. Anything.' So there was such positivity, and then you do that for other women and you keep paying it forward."

The experience of directing was "empowering," she said. "It was my vision. I got to follow through on all of my instincts — and also [incorporate] other people’s instincts as well. It was nice to be a leader in that environment and be able to take wisdom from other people — and to work with really great actors."

Next up for Holmes: Directing an episode of the miniseries The Kennedys — After Camelot, in which she'll also star as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

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