Girls, Girls, Girls - Part I
by Eugene Hernandez
In a summer when Hollywood studios are courting would-be
moviegoers and politicians are courting would-be voters, filmmaker Jim McKay
is pounding the pavement for a unique cause, his new film "Girls Town," a
low-budget indie with a specific intended audience — teenage girls. 180
degrees from the high school life portrayed in "Clueless," or "90210", "Girls
Town" is by its creators’ own accounts a piece of political propaganda aimed
at waking up young women. Indeed, there is nothing "mainstream" or Hollywood
about McKay or his film. In fact, if coming-of-age films have become a
genre, then McKay is doing all that he can to subvert it. The film, a double
award-winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, garnered the Filmmakers’
Trophy and a Special Jury Award for Outstanding Collaborative Merit.
However, while it is the unique collaborative aspects of "Girls Town" that has
given McKay’s film tremendous buzz, it is the film’s message that he is
Lili Taylor ("I Shot Andy Warhol," "The Addiction"), Bruklin Harris ("Zebrahead",
"Juice") and Anna Grace star and share co-writing credit, with McKay, for "Girls Town."
The film was developed as a collaborative project, with the script
writing taking place during an improvisational workshop process. The film is
produced by Lauren Zalaznick, producer of such notable indie films as, "Kids," Safe," Poison,"
and "Swoon." The story revolves around four high school seniors
whose lives change dramatically after a they learn about the victimization
and subsequent death of close friend. The feelings they share after the
experience lead to an awakening rarely seen in the few female coming-of-age
stories presented in movies.
In creating "Girls Town," McKay has orchestrated a campaign aimed at changing
the way young women view themselves on screen and in society. "I am very
unapologetic about the fact that I made a film that I hoped would change
certain things," he admits, "I targeted this film to a certain audience." He
reveals that he wants to present a specific situation and fill a void, and he
states, " I don’t think there is anything bad about that…as a man and as a
former boy these are all issues that really affect me through my
relationships with women and my relationships with other men. I don’t think
that women’s issues are just women’s issues." Now 34, McKay has been a film
and video maker for almost ten years. He directed a documentary,
"Lighthearted Nation," music videos for REM, Sun Volt, Soul Coughing, Ziggy
Marley, The Feelies, and others, public service announcements and REM’s
concert film "Tourfilm". Recent video work was showcased in last year’s REM
world tour and will be seen in the upcoming REM tour film, "Road Movie". Jim is
a co-founder (with REM’s Michael Stipe) of the C-Hundred Film Corp.
To read the next part of this article, click here.