Interview With Jamie Babbit

 
 

AE: And how did you round up so many lesbian icons into one film?
JB:
A lot of them I had worked with before, so that was pretty easy. Some I had worked with on TV, Carly Pope I’d worked with on Popular, and Daniela [Sea] I had worked with on The L Word. I knew a lot of them personally, so that really helped. And they’re all really nice people. I’m very lucky.

AE: I read that it was basically an all-female production — that must’ve been fun.
JB:
It was actually more similar to working with a mixed crew than I thought it would be. But it was a great incentive; I mean, it was a nice environment.

It felt like everyone was working on the movie for political reasons, and it almost felt like the making of the movie was kind of mirroring the Itty Bitty Titty Committee — like the CIA [Clits in Action, the group at the heart of the film] goes around and tries to raise consciousness and do all this stuff, you know — and we were kind of doing that in the making of the movie. So that felt really fun, to mirror what was going on in the script with what was going on on-set.

Babbit (right) with the cast on the set of IBTC

And of course, there was lots of romance and all that stuff, too. And I’m sure some people said they wanted to work on the movie for political reasons, but really, they wanted to work on it because they wanted to meet girls. It’s like one of the scenes from the movie.

AE: There’s always more drama behind the camera than in front of it, right?
JB:
Oh, totally. But it’s good, because I got people to work on the movie for very little money, or in fact, zero money, because they were looking for romance. Some found it and some didn’t. [Laughs.]

AE: Between Itty Bitty and Cheerleader, you have quite the reputation with comedy. Do you think it’s harder to get that right than drama?
JB:
They both have their challenges. Comedy is easy if you have good actors that are funny. If you have actors that aren’t funny, you’re screwed, so I think it’s harder to find funny actors.

I think a lot of actors are really talented, but they just don’t have comedic timing. In that way, comedy is harder, but I don’t think it’s particularly harder to direct. Though maybe that’s because naturally I see a lot of comedy in the world, so … it’s not hard for me to figure out how to stage it in a funny way. I don’t consider myself a serious person, so it’s not a far stretch for me.

AE: What is it really like working on The L Word? Is the set as intense as the actual show?
JB: It’s really fun, actually, because the cast is really social and the crew is really social, so you really get to have fun in Vancouver just going to clubs and having dinner. It’s a really nice group of people; I really enjoy it. And it’s also a group of super-talented actors that I’m very blessed that I get to direct … Jennifer Beals and Marlee Matlin, et cetera.

AE: How did you get involved with the industry documentaries This Film Is Not Yet Rated and Indie Sex?
JB: Right, Indie Sex — it was on IFC. I actually haven’t seen the final documentary, so I have no idea what I said or what I did, but about a year ago, the director contacted me. She asked me a lot of questions about directing sex scenes, and then she asked a lot of questions about my NC-17 rating for But I’m a Cheerleader, which was stuff I’d covered in This Film Is Not Yet Rated .

Lesli Klainberg and [Kirby Dick] are both very talented documentary filmmakers doing important movies. I was honored to be a part of both documentaries, and hopefully I said something insightful. I have no idea [laughs], but they were fun to be a part of.

AE: What else is in your future, besides Gossip Girl? Do you have any scripts in development?
JB:
I have a movie I want to do in a retirement community, and I have a pretty full TV schedule ahead of me for this year, so yes, all of the above.

AE: Any TV shows you’ve previously directed?
JB:
Well, some new shows, like Gossip Girl, obviously. And a new show called Dirty Sexy Money, and The L Word of course, and a show I’ve worked on called The Riches, and the Anne Heche show, Men in Trees. I’ll be directing that. So yeah, a bunch of stuff — and I’m always working on movies at the same time.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee opens in limited engagement on Sept. 28

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