Hallie Meyers-Shyer is a first time writer and director, and daughter of legendary directors, Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer. Here, she talks about what it was like growing up on set, finding her own voice, and working with her mother on Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon, which hits theaters September 8.
When I was really young, my parents showed me Rear Window and that, for me, was the first film I had seen. It was more than just a movie for the sake of enjoyment and all those things. It really blew my mind. I think that was when I turned a corner and thought I wanted to make films and write them.
I started my interest in film really young and [my parents] nurtured that. It sort of became an education. Back when we didn't have access to movies like with Netflix now, we'd go to Blockbuster and we'd rent a movie every week. It started an education in film. I have felt nothing but full support from them. When your parents write and direct films, you really good insight into what a big job it is, and how much responsibility. They've always included me in the process and now that I'm making films, I'm really inclusive of them, and I want their opinion. So much so that I asked my mom to produce this movie. I can't imagine having better people to consult than two filmmakers in the family.
[My mom] has such a great history of making terrific female-driven comedies. I couldn't ask for a better creative partner on this movie. [She] a great sense of design. I think, for her, it all stems from character and she really passed that onto me to make sure that the home in the film was welcoming, and felt very much like the characters who live there. We pay attention to all the details, and the set design is one of them.
Women, I think, in some ways work even harder than men. Reese [Witherspoon] taking a chance on an unknown, first time female filmmaker is just a huge deal, and I'm forever grateful to her for that. It’s a big step, and I hope that other people do that as an example of taking chances on female directors. I thought it was really empowering. The business has made a lot of good moves towards having females at the helm of films. There's still a long way to go, but I think we're on the right path, for sure. Wonder Woman did wonders for us.
[Romantic comedy] is the only genre that's really close to everyone's hearts and everyone loves it. I just think that there's not a place for it in the business now with all these superhero movies. I have found that when I told people I'm making a film in this genre, they just sigh with relief. A lot of summer movies are action packed and take place on other planets, so we were excited to make a regular 2-D movie about a woman on planet Earth.
Tonally, [Home Again] feels like a romantic comedy, but I definitely have been calling it a “modern romantic comedy,” because it is more about her journey and not [about] finding a man. This movie was, for me, about her ending up okay on her own.
As told to Anne Cohen.
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