Film Department Professor Annette Haywood-Carter Directs Feature Film “Daughter of the Bride”
Media and film has an immense influence on our culture, day to day lives, understanding, and beliefs. As a result, it is vital to have a diverse body of individuals working behind the camera, telling and directing the stories we see every day. More and more women are being represented behind the camera in episodic television, however the shift to include more women directors in feature films is still a work in progress. In 1979, The Women’s Steering Committee of The DGA was founded to create and advance the professional interests of its members and increase visibility and opportunities for women in the entertainment industry. Annette Haywood-Carter has been a member of the Director’s Guild since 1994. The Women’s Steering Committee formed a group of 10 women filmmakers who are mid-career called “The Squad” and paired them with mentors to help give them the visibility and access needed to break through the glass ceiling in the industry and reach the next step in their career. As part of “The Squad”, Annette was paired with a mentor who had done three previous films with Mar Vista, the company who acquired the rights to Daughter of the Bride. When she was selected by them to direct Daughter of the Bride, she knew she had to seize the opportunity. This was Annette’s first feature film in ten years. After years of directing indie films, this romantic comedy would certainly provide her with a different directing opportunity. Daughter of the Bride is a comedy feature film that follows Diane and Kate, a mother and a daughter who are inseparable friends. Their lives are turned upside down when Diane announces her engagement to a mystery man.
For Annette, this experience was a chance to show the female point of view as opposed to many romantic comedies that are directed by men. As a mother herself, she understood the unique perspective of the main character who is finding love again and has a close relationship with an adult daughter who is both independent but still emerging into adulthood. At California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), Annette teaches Directing classes in the Film & Electronic Arts Department. The experience being on set was one she shared consistently with her students. Teaching directing classes after being fresh off the set allowed Annette to give insights and real time experience about the professional world to her students. She shared how she blocked certain scenes, about challenges that came up on set, working with writers in the early stages of the original screenplay, and so much more. The film only had 16 shooting days which is less than most feature films, thus presenting a challenge to ensure things ran smoothly and every moment was used wisely and efficiently. Annette shared the day-to-day tasks on set with her students and discussed the pre-production to production process, explaining how her prior directing roles combined with new encounters ten years later in the continuously evolving film industry. Arguably, the craft of directing hasn’t drastically changed, however an individual’s own sensibilities and the sensibilities of the market does change over time. She also shared a great deal with her female film students who asked about her time on set and unique experiences as a female director and how she handled specific situations and decisions to ensure her personal directing voice and vision came through in the film.
The decision for the film to go the theatrical route in fall 2022 was also something Annette shared with her students. Annette recalls their excitement, “the students were extraordinarily generous in their enthusiasm, and it was great to share that theatrical change with them among all of the other experiences I had directing the film.” Annette shared how much she loves teaching at CSULB and most importantly, working with the unique group of students in the film department. The ability to learn the artform from working professionals who are engaged in the ongoing changes and developments in the industry is an incredibly valuable experience for any student studying film. Many of Annette’s female students asked the big question of “how do I do it? How do I break through and become a prominent woman director in the industry?” While there isn’t a direct answer to the question, Annette reflected on the changes happening in the industry with her students, and the movement that has begun to include more women and diverse voices behind the camera. Daughter of the Bride, distributed by FOX Entertainment, opens theatrically in five cities and on demand starting February 3rd. The film’s trailer is also available online on TV Insider.