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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #5: Karen Hopkins on Trusting that her Feature ‘Miss Meadows’ Would Happen

Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #5: Karen Hopkins on Trusting that her Feature 'Miss Meadows' Would Happen

Prior to “Miss Meadows,” Karen Hopkins has only one directing credit under her belt. She’s also appeared in some small roles and helmed the screenplay for the Susan Sarandon drama “Stepmom.” Her latest film, satire “Miss Meadows,” which will appear at Tribeca this year, stars Katie Holmes as a “proper lady” gone bad. Hopkins also told Indiewire that getting the film done required “touches of a wand.” 

Tell us about yourself? I came to Hollywood from Sandusky, Ohio to work as an actress. I taught exercise classes for years and drove a lawn mower for a car until I got my first “big break.” I then got cut out of three major films. My twin was studying to be a shrink and figured I made up all these scenarios of being cast then cut out up as a way of survival. My mother lovingly told me “you’re a failure come home,” but I could not go home. Leonard Cohen says,”writing is a desperate activity” and it was desperation which fueled me to write a screenplay in a week. And my luck “suddenly” changed — it sold. I called my mother at her factory job and told her you can quit now. She said “that doesn’t happen to people like us.” I wrote “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmicheal” on the set of “The Running Man,” a film that I did not get cut out of. I wrote “Miss Meadows” as I contemplated bringing a child into this complicated, sometimes beautiful, world. Was it fair to bring a new life and introduce it to this place? How do you teach right from wrong, courage and not fear? Around the same time that I wondered about this, a little girl named Polly was abducted out of her bedroom slumber party and was killed by an intruder. A news report suggested that we should have compassion for him as he had had a rough childhood. My own moral compass exploded; had we as a society become so politically correct that we no longer had a right and a wrong? A black and white? Who could do what we – and what the law – could not, and protect all children? Miss Meadows could. She appeared to me and I wrote her as fast as I could to get her excruciatingly “correct” behavior down. It took 14 years for her manifest into the revelation that is now Katie Holmes.

Biggest challenge in completing this project? Trusting that it would, in fact, be complete. A little over a year ago at this time, the film (and me), had no agent, manager or lawyer. The production team that were attached vanished like “poof.” Then there was another “poof,” but this time not with a dagger but a magic wand. A producer had looked me in the eye and said “I can get this done.” Then there was a”big poof! Katie Holmes said yes. And then there were more touches of the magic wand. We made “Miss Meadows” for just over a million in Cleveland, Ohio. It has been the kindness of strangers every moment of every day ever since – for every seventeen “no’s” we had one immaculate yes that propelled us to the next step. “Poof” we are here. In the wow now. 
What do you have in the works? A female western, a dog musical I’m writing with my 10 year old daughter, a spec pilot and I’m producing a few projects with/for other filmmakers. I also look forward to taking a long walk with my daughter and our dog around the block.
Did you crowdfund? If so, via which platform? And if not, why? We did not; we didn’t have time given the small window we had to make the movie given Katie’s availability.
What films have inspired you? “Once Upon A Time in the West” changed everything for me. Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” and “Sunset Boulevard.” Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch,” Chaplin’s “City Lights” and “The Great Dictator.” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia.” Also, Spike Jonze in general.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about
their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and
what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up
to the 2014 festival. Go HERE to read all the entries.

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