You may now check out Rose McGowan’s haunting short film, Dawn (2014), via Refinery29. They also did a very nice write-up on the film, calling Dawn a “masterfully subversive directorial début”.
If the character Dawn is marked by constraint and indecision, McGowan’s role in shaping her film was just the opposite. Taking the lead on the set design process, McGowan transformed her heroine’s world into a bubblegum-pink embodiment of the ’60s obsession with order. Moving through this bright landscape of neat ranch houses, pleated skirts, and sleek, new furniture, the film clearly reflects the post-war craving for a return to convention.
As her debut short-film Dawn, is set to be released on June 21st on YouTube we met with Rose McGowan and discussed her new vocation as a film director, the story behind her upcoming first feature film The Pines, and her escape from Hollywood’s status quo of misogyny. And as it turns out, her new professional journey is far more personal than one could imagine.
First things first, let’s discuss your short-film debut, Dawn, the tragedy of a teenage girl…
Dawn is about growing up as a young woman in the 60s, experiencing first love and femininity, but it is also about asking what happens when we as a society, with maternal influences, bind our daughter’s hands? How we give them no defense mechanism at all-we only say ‘no, you can’t do this’, without explaining why. But it also questions the idea of masculinity, the two men that Dawn idolises are Robert Hunter and Rock Hudson, now known as gay actors, but at the time, they would have been her teenage dream. I also wanted to question class disparity by putting an emphasis on the material contrast between the working class and the middle class–for example, the condition of Dawn’s family car which is brand new, versus the boy’s car, who works at a gas station, which is much older. I say a lot without having to hit anybody over the head. So it’s not a coming-of-age story per se, it’s rather a cautionary tale.
What about the casting, how did you chose your actors?
I didn’t want anybody to look like an actor from L.A. I got Tara Barr to play Dawn, her face doesn’t have this innocent baby-fat anymore. As for the male lead role, I was looking for somebody who could embody a paedophile, a victimiser, a manipulator capable of gently scrambling Dawn’s brain.
Can you describe the world that Dawn has been exposed to and how that relates to the feminist undertones in the film?
Setting Dawn in 1961 allowed me to examine the pretty straight jacket that girls were raised to exist in. The post-war ideal of femininity both fascinates and horrifies me. I realized I could say a lot about that by making a study of Dawn’s repression.
How do you feel that your experience as an actress in Hollywood has influenced your transition into directing- specifically regarding the projects you’ll take on?
Everything relates. It’s a special trick of the mind to think that we are only allowed to be or do one thing. Acting is an art, but I wasn’t feeling like an artist. To be a frustrated artist is a special kind of torture. I am now very comfortable having my own voice. I know what I will and won’t do as a director and I learned that from being an actress. Read more …
Rose McGowan appears from around the corner of the EDITION Hotel suite where she’s staying for a few days. “Hold on, I’m going to put on some lipstick,” she says, disappearing into another room. A few seconds later she’s back, her signature porcelain skin looking even milkier in contrast to the red lipstick she’s put on. “Much better,” she smiles, sitting down on the couch with her legs crossed.
I’m delighted to find that McGowan is exactly as I’ve always pictured her – incredibly charming, smart as a whip, and totally honest. She’s a refreshing person in an industry that has the reputation for being a little fake; something that Rose has no qualms about calling the industry out on, particularly the sexist politics of Hollywood. “It’s just so boring! I’m just like, ‘Come on, get with the program!’” she says, a perfect eye roll serving as an exclamation mark to her statement. But McGowan’s life is anything less than boring; with a myriad of projects and businesses under her belt and iconic film roles on her resume, she has finally made the transition behind the camera with the debut of the short film Dawn, a chilling and striking cautionary tale of sexism and abuse.
In between bites of fries and sliders, Milk Made’s Ana Velasco talked to the multitalented artist about being able to have her own voice, changing the boring datedness of Hollywood, and the unlikely inspiration behind Dawn.
What drew you to create this, especially as a first project?
What really inspired me were women in that era. I really wanted to tell a story about this candy-coated idea of perfect post war, and what we still do today. We tell women to be polite, telling them this, telling them that. What that does is subvert their own instincts for protection. I have a friend that was raped because she told the guy three times that she didn’t want help carrying her groceries, and he went off saying, ‘you’re just being a feminist.’ She thought ‘okay, alright, just take my groceries,’ and of course he raped her. For me, it’s just shining a light on something. I wanted to do it in a very beautiful way and a very stressful way. It still goes on, nothing has changed really.
Rose McGowan cuts her own hair, trimming it into a punkster crop every 10 days. She grew up in a string of Christian communes. She “divorced” her parents. She knew as a child she would be famous. She sold her engagement ring, one of three, to finance the film she just directed.
Ms. McGowan shared these and sundry other revelations late last month over nothing more lethal, or chatter inducing, than a pale lemonade. Fresh-pressed and summery in an Isabel Marant tie-front dress and high-top platform sneakers, she took a seat at one of the slatted wooden tables at the Ludlow Hotel, an oasis of hip in Lower Manhattan.
After 20 years of acting — and finally realizing she hates it — Rose McGowan has become Hollywood’s feminist whistleblower. To the industry, she says, “Fuck your rules.”
The night of June 17, Rose McGowan tweeted a screenshot of casting notes she had been sent for an audition. They read: “Please make sure you read the attached script before coming in so you understand the context of the scenes. Wardrobe Note: Black (or dark) form fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push up bras encouraged). And form fitting leggings or jeans.” With the screenshot, McGowan tweeted: “casting note that came w/script I got today. For real. name of male star rhymes with Madam Panhandler hahahaha I die.”
After tweeting it, she simply went to bed, not thinking much of it. When she awoke, the tweet had gone viral and was starting to be picked up by the media — it was, after all, about a high-profile project, Adam Sandler’s new Netflix movie The Do Over. “I was like, oh dear — if you think that’s bad,” she remembered thinking. “I was mostly flummoxed by everybody thinking that was so horrible; it’s just par for the course. It was more a stupidity offense — bad manners offend me. And then I was thinking, How many people’s hands did that pass through before that was just sent out to every woman coming in?”
From Rose McGowan:
Dawn is a cautionary tale. We hurt girls with casual negligence. We change the course of lives with a stereotypical view shared thoughtlessly. We shape the minds of the innocent. Let’s think different and be better.
My inspirations were varied – I wanted the color palette of The Parent Trap (1961) the loneliness of an Edward Hopper painting, the driving tension of Night of the Hunter mixed with Hemingway’s unsparing style of editing. These greats are my teachers.
I layered a lot into Dawn and feel it’s best watched twice. Please enjoy for free and pass it on. THOUGHT+ART = FREEDOM
Entertainment Weekly interviewed Rose McGowan recently about her short film Dawn, her forthcoming feature debut Pines and that Adam Sandler casting call. Read on for the great interview!
In January, Rose McGowan flipped the script on Hollywood. Debuting her short film Dawn at the Sundance Film Festival, the former Charmed star — a journeywoman actress who appeared in such films as Scream and The Black Dahlia and most recently wrapped a 12-episode arc on the Crackle series Chosen — made explicit her intention to reinvent herself as a moviemaker.
But last week, it was McGowan’s fiery feminist streak that grabbed headlines around the world thanks to a cheeky tweet:
casting note that came w/script I got today. For real. name of male star rhymes with Madam Panhandler hahahaha I die pic.twitter.com/lCWGTV537t
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) 18. kesäkuuta 2015
With its thinly veiled reference to Adam Sandler, the posting managed to put Hollywood’s casual sexism and institutional objectification of actresses on conspicuous display.
Turns out the outspoken actress-director’s impulse to vent spleen came from the same place as her film-making drive. Dawn — which will be screened at New York’s Lincoln Center under the auspices of its Film Society Wednesday—follows a quiet teen (Tara Barr) growing up within the constrictive confines of small-town America. But when she strikes up a flirtation with a courtly boy who works at the local gas station (Reiley McClendon)—and lowers her guard to allow him and his friends into her world—Dawn gets much more than she bargained for. It’s an assured debut with a strong point of view and some sharp points to make about female identity construction.
In a candid discussion with EW, McGowan, 41, explained she’s “not trying to vilify” Sandler, even while decrying the “stupidity” of his movie’s audition notice. And she took pains to elucidate her pro-woman humanism as well as her decision to say goodbye to acting for the foreseeable future.
Attention LA Fans! Dawn will be playing for a week in L.A. next month along with female-driven films picked by the director. This is wonderfully exciting and all of the staff at Rose-McGowan.com would kill to go to this! Any fans in the L.A. area, please go out and support our lady! If anyone does indeed attend we would love to hear a report about your experience and have it published on the site. Not only is this a great opportunity to see some handpicked classic films with strong leading female performances, Rose will be in attendance and also is aiming to put her directorial debut in Oscar contention!
The Hollywood Reporter writes:
When Rose McGowan’s short-film directorial debut Dawn premiered at Sundance this winter it took many by surprise. It didn’t look like the work of someone who had been acting since she was a teenager (TV’s Charmed, Grindhouse, The Black Dahlia), but rather the work of a cinephile who had spent a lifetime feasting on the classics.
After generating some acclaim for Dawn earlier this year, McGowan is now hoping the film can nab an Academy Award nomination. To qualify for best short it must be publicly exhibited for paid admission in Los Angeles for three consecutive days, but McGowan has decided to turn her qualifying run into a week long “Dawn Festival” and will be setting up residency at the Downtown Independent on Sept 19.
For seven nights, Dawn will be accompanied by a movie picked by McGowan. According to a statement, the films were chosen because they “feature iconic performances by actresses that prove rich, complex and layered roles can and should be written for and by women.” The films will screen with McGowan and special guests in attendance.
For the former Charmed actress, Dawn and its Oscar run are her first steps towards directing features. “I have three features in the works right now,” McGowan tells THR. “Two are in rewrites. One is a bigger film, one smaller. After conservatively estimating my time on sets at over 17,000 hours, I’m more than ready.”
Here’s the full “Dawn Festival” lineup, along with McGowan’s reasoning for picking each film:
Rose McGowan appeared at Sundance London last month to screen her short film Dawn to a keen audience. She took time to talk to Red Carpet News TV about her film, feminism – and what’s instore for the filmmaker next.
Be sure to watch the great interview right below!