From Indie Films to Directorial Debut
After three decades of being in front of the camera, Heather Graham is set to release Half Magic, her first directorial effort. The film, which Graham wrote, directed, and stars in, revolves around three friends navigating the often confusing worlds of sex, work, and friendship. The upcoming sex comedy explores the theme of female empowerment.
From catharsis to passion project
The indie mainstay began her venture into the world behind the camera through a cathartic writing process. Graham told People Magazine that she was going through a breakup when she began writing the film’s story and cracking herself up. As a result, several personal experiences of Graham and her friends have been incorporated into the film, albeit with some exaggerations for comedic effect.
It was in mid-2014 that things finally came together for Graham’s script. At the time, she was about to star in Neil LaBute’s The Money Shot, a play that was set to run in the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village. Because of the film, Graham had to leave the play’s production just three days after a press meet-and-greet, a necessary sacrifice for her to be able to pursue her own creative project.
While Graham’s exit from the play was graceful, Indiewire explores how the play’s story seems to mirror Graham’s pursuit of creative freedom. In The Money Shot, Graham’s role as a ‘Hollywood has-been’ willing to accept debasement in exchange for another shot at fame is a gross manifestation of how “the film industry has never seen her as anything other than a sexpot.” It’s hard to find fault, then, in Graham’s choice, seeing as the film allowed her to express her ideas more.
A welcome change
The actress-turned-director has been in the business for decades now. After her breakthrough in License to Drive, she has been a regular of indie films as mentioned earlier, with Drugstore Cowboy and The Ballad of Little Jo as among her early works in the genre. Since then, she starred in numerous big-budget films as well before finally stepping up to take the helm of a movie project. She told the Hollywood Reporter, “I’m ready to put my own voice forward on a project inspired by the comical liaisons that my girlfriends and I have found ourselves in with respect to love, friendship, and womanhood.”
Graham cites the ‘powerful, unapologetic’ female voices of comedy mainstays Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, and Amy Schumer, among others, that inspired her to pursue the project. The actress pointed out that one problem she noticed in the industry is that too many movies tackle sexuality from a male point of view, and hoped to help change it with her directorial debut’s honest take on female sexuality.
Making it work
Graham is no stranger to comedy herself, as she has starred in various films within the genre such as Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Hangover. Recently, she also ventured into another kind of project through a partnership with the UK-based bingo platform Foxy Bingo, and was revealed as the person behind their official mascot. Foxy Bingo hosts the three-line full house 90-Ball Bingo as well as other forms of the classic pastime, and Graham has since shot several commercials, all of which are humorous. That being said, Graham injected her own brand of satirical comedy in the story of Half Magic. In it, the three ladies aim to fight sexism, build good relationships, and overcome low self-esteem.
To add more truth to the film, Graham’s character even has a macho boss who puts her and her ideas down, a situation that is all too familiar for Graham. In several interviews, she shared that she included these little tidbits from her life in an effort to change status quo.
Graham has frequently graced lists of Hollywood’s sexiest and most beautiful women as well. Her experiences in this regard has given her lots of insight on how the male-dominated industry of film-making can be less glamorous than it seems to be. According to Graham, “I’m grateful for the men who have hired me, but I wish there was a balance for the female point of view, so it’s not all super agro-testosterone heads running the world.”
While this collective wisdom has helped her build her story, the newly minted director also told Salon that working with other female directors really inspired her, too. Graham shared that she enjoys helping out behind the scenes, and expressed that it’s a lot more fulfilling to surround herself with the right people and do something new – two actions which are actually included in a Women on Topp post about tips for brilliant power women.
The critics will surely have a lot to say about Graham’s upcoming debut film. Whatever the outcome, however, the tongue-in-cheek parody of Graham’s career thus far, is already breaking boundaries.