Women of Sundance: The Foxy Merkins
Interview with The Foxy Merkins Producer Laura Terruso
Filmmaker: Why this movie? Why did you decide to do it?
Terruso: Madeleine Olnek is a genius. If Madeleine proposed that her next film be about homeless high-school math wizards, I would say, “Yes, let’s do it,” because I’d know it would be the funniest movie ever made about homeless high-school math wizards.
Filmmaker: How much of your crew was female? Was hiring women a consideration for you?
Terruso: Our crew was almost entirely female. It wasn’t a consideration, it just sort of happened. It occurred to me when our team was standing on stage at the Sundance Next Weekend Festival in Los Angeles that our crew was actually the inverse gender demographic of most film crews. Our shoot was extremely bare bones. For most of the shoot we were a total of three to four people plus the director. For a lot of it, I did double duty as producer/sound recordist.
Filmmaker: How did you go about raising funding for it? (I ask this because most female filmmakers says that being female makes it harder to raise funds, so thought your story could be inspiring — I know this topic can be touchy feely, so answer it in the way that you are most comfortable with.)
Terruso: We all prostituted ourselves for six months prior to the shoot. We called it “method fundraising.”
Filmmaker: Do you think a male director might have handled the making of this film differently? How did being a female filmmaker effect how this film got made do you think?
Terruso: I don’t think anyone could’ve made this film but Madeleine Olnek. It’s so original. Her voice is so singular. When you see it, you’ll understand.
Filmmaker: In what ways do you think being a female filmmaker/actress has helped or impeded your trajectory in the film industry?
Terruso: I’ve only ever worked independently and way outside of the studio system. I see the independent film world as a very small community of artists who are trying to do the impossible. Every independent film that is made feels like a miracle to me given all the obstacles. I think being a woman in this field has only made my will to produce work stronger, and it has forced me to work even harder to achieve my goals. As a result, I don’t wait for opportunities to come to me. Instead I try to make my own opportunities.
Filmmaker: Of the big blockbuster movies out there, which do you wish you had produced?
Terruso: That is such a hard question. No filter, off the top of my head answer, A League of Their Own and Sister Act.
Filmmaker: What’s next?
Terruso: I’ll be helping Madeleine get her next film off the ground and I’m also doing a lot of writing. I co-wrote a feature length comedy with writer/comedian Michael Showalter which we will be shooting this summer.
Filmmaker: Considering this will be released at Sundance: A) What do you hope to gain from being at the festival? and B) Who would be your dream person to meet while there?
Terruso: I’d like a Mormon friend, and I’d like to NOT get any kind of hot tub related bacterial infections.
I would be so psyched to meet Jenji Kohan, Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. I don’t know if any of them will actually be there, but I think they’re all amazing role models for someone like me who is interested in writing, producing and directing comedy.