Will Ferrell’s production company starts division for female comedies, but does the label help or hurt?

By | February 12, 2014 at 1:44 pm | 8 comments | News, Opinion, TV/Movies | Tags: , , ,

News surfaced today that Gary Sanchez Productions – that’s Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy – will establish a production division in charge of developing female-centic movies. The new arm of the wildly successful company will be lead by Jessica Elbaum, who’s been with the company for years.

Ferrell and McKay had this to say about the move: “When Jessica came to us with this idea, we thought it was fantastic. She has worked with some of the great female voices in comedy and has proven herself as a gifted producer who has a keen eye for material.” Indeed, Elbaum is more than qualified for the job having helped produce Anchorman 2, The Other Guys and Casa de mi Padre (among others). And she’s already working on Welcome to Me, a dark comedy starring Kristen Wiig and Sleeping with Other People, starring Kirsten Dunst and Jason Sudeikis

So here’s my question: Why not just promote the well-deserving Elbaum and let her make the movies she wants? Why do we need to label the production house’s intentions? I’m totally down for more comedies starring strong female leads and injecting a good dose of gender equality into funny flicks. But when you create a special space for women to be funny – even if the goal is positive — doesn’t that further cement the idea that women should be treated differently in the world of comedy?

You’d have to be constantly high (or Brian Lowry from Variety) if you haven’t noticed, that in the last few years, women are killing it in comedy—onstage and in television and movies (both onscreen and behind the scenes). And they’ve been killing it alongside penis-owning producers and comedians. I applaud Gary Sanchez Productions for formally realizing that women and men are equal. But one of the first things you learn in any sort of storytelling training – whether it’s for film or for the page – is to “show, don’t tell.”

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About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • DorothyP

    If Farrell will put his points where his mouth is, and star in films directed and written by women, then I’ll believe this is something substantial. Otherwise, it’s a nice reward for his long-time assistant.

  • Jeff

    More paternalism won’t help.

  • ColtFlory5

    I think it’s a good thing. Having a lady whose worked on some of the biggest comedy movies of late, curating her own productions sounds like an awesome idea, especially when there’s that whole network of talent at funnyordie.com to tap into.
    Even though people are naturally going to want to compare it to things like ‘All Female’ comedy showcase nights, where it’s more of a segregation that can often suggest female comedy can’t work in any other room, this production division seems like a good idea and an opportunity to “strike while the iron is hot.” Keeping successes like Bridesmaids the norm rather than a lucky fluke that managed to get through the hollywood-horseshit-system is great.

    • dylan

      i guess my question is still why can’t you strike while the iron is hot and just simply produce more female-driven comedies without creating a production arm that specializes in that as if “women” are some sort of ultra-niche interest? i don’t see how segregating female comedies helps the chances of the movie doing well. it seems like the message is “Girls are really talented… but let’s deal with them over there.” It just seems odd.

      • Hollywood Girl

        I’m a female comedy writer and I’m ecstatic about Gloria because every time I ask my reps to submit my material to Gary Sanchez, they say “They’re all about guy stuff.” When Gloria Sanchez was announced, they finally submitted me.

        • dylan

          maybe your reps should’ve tried anyway… your reps probably should’ve known about Gloria already and sought her out. it’s not like she’s a new player. aren’t reps supposed to be proactive, creative and know how to get to the right players? they need Ferrell to announce he’s working with women for them to submit?

  • The Irony

    Couldn’t help but laugh at the way this was written, considering how regularly terribly misogynist Laughspin is. Garbage site you got here.

    • unfriended

      And yet you still read it. Couldn’t help but laugh at the way this comment was written.