Cathryn Michon is not your average Hollywood writer, actor, director. She’s not even male! And that’s the point of her latest film project Muffin Top: A Love Story which she co-wrote, directed and stars in, and where the mission and “movie-ment” is to “put chicks back in flicks.” It doesn’t hurt that she’s a hilarious award-winning comedian who’s all about female and body empowerment while simultaneously taking the piss out of it. With a solid, primarily female cast (Marissa Jaret Winokur, Marcia Wallace Dot Marie Jones Retta Melissa Peterman, Haylie Duff , Maria Bamford to name a few) and an all-woman crew, Muffin Top is a complete film, but Michon has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds to bring it to theaters around the country and have women’s stories be seen on the big screen.
Women buy 55% of the movie tickets and yet only 6% of studio movies have a cast that is 50% women. Those are some grim stats, but Cathryn Michon is looking to change that. Salted Scarletry caught up with her on the final day of the Kickstarter campaign to chat about her new film, her feminist mission and how we can help make it happen.
So, why do muffin tops get the love and not another sensitive part of the body?
Well the movie is about body loathing in general, fear of aging and how the ridiculous images we see in the media make us all feel terrible about ourselves. I thought it was particularly heinous that all these words have become popular so that now we have catchphrases with which to hate ourselves. “Cankles” “side butt” “muffin top” all these horrible insults that we use…on ourselves! So I thought it was funny to just flat out say, this is the name of the movie and…it’s a love story. It makes people laugh and it’s just right for the film.
What was writing with your husband like? As a male, how do you think he helped in contributing to the female story line?
I love writing with my husband. I have often joked that whereas other women marry for money, I married for jokes. Not really. Well, maybe a little. My husband is the father of two VERY outspoken daughters, and two outspoken sisters and writes women frighteningly well. His mother was really a feminist pioneer, one of the first female on camera sportscasters, doing color for football broadcasts for the Kansas City Chiefs. I didn’t just marry him for the jokes of course, I also married him because he loves smart, outspoken women. Lucky me, both as a writing partner and as a wife.
The fact that you’ve taken your film to kickstarter says something about the sad state of women’s stories being produced in Hollywood. Did you attempt to bring this film to a major production company or did you decide to go straight to the people?
This film is adapted from my critically acclaimed novel The Grrl Genius Guide to Sex (With Other People). When the book came out, we did have interest from Hollywood Studios, but we knew they would never allow me to direct, and I really wanted to make that leap forward. The film is made, thank God, and we are using Kickstarter to help us take it out to the world.
We want this GIRLBODYPRIDE tour to be a win/win scenario – we launch our movie, sure, but we’re also launching a movement to show that there are empowered audiences who want to see women back on the silver screen. We believe that beauty is not a size, an age or a color, and this film reflects that. We want to talk about how images of women in media need to be more inclusive, more inspiring, more…real.
There is definitely a drought of women-helmed films for, by and about women. What do you think we, as media makers and consumers, can all do to help change that?
We live in an astonishing time of social media. A platform like Kickstarter is basically an audience empowerment platform. Listen, women buy 55% of theater tickets, but only 6% of movies give women an equal voice. That’s shameful. In 1943 we had gender parity in Hollywood movies, and we have gone that far backward. It’s unacceptable, and so when you use a platform like Kickstarter to vote for a movie like ours, you are changing the culture. Literally.
Hollywood is not used to an activated, empowered audience, but indie is listening. If we succeed with this movie, it will be because Kickstarter launched what we’re calling our “MOVIE-MENT” and it will be far easier for us to raise production funds for the next film.
We started a company called “Surprise Hit Films” and we’re calling it that because every time a movie like “The Help” or “Bridesmaids” kicks box office ass, Hollywood declares it a, “Surprise hit!” We’re not surprised. Programing to 55% of the audience should not be a niche film.
Would you consider Muffin Top a feminist film?
I do. Loud and proud. I say I’m a feminist, no question. I can’t wait for you to see the film, people in this film actually argue about feminism, what that means. In a very funny way. It’s very honest about the back stabbing that goes on between feminists as well.
I noticed you are co-author of a yoga book with kundalini teacher Gurmukh. Do you practice yoga now and has that had any impact on the film, or your creative process in general?
Yoga has saved me. From killing people! Kidding. Again, sort of. I don’t do as much Kundalini anymore, I’m more of a Vinyasa girl now, Vinnie Marino is my go-to teacher here in L.A. but Gurmukh is of course an excellent teacher.
Why did you think it was important to make this film? Why should people donate to the kickstarter campaign?
It’s important to make films that tell women’s stories. My granddaughter (be nice, I married an old guy who had kids young!) is going to grow up watching movies that are mostly white male superheros flying around and occasionally saving some young skinny woman who is a victim. That’s not acceptable to me. You can’t be it if you can’t see it, in the words of the late astronaut Sally Ride.
If you support what we are doing with this film and with this tour, you will help us send an important message: there is an audience for women’s stories. Hollywood will not change, but investors will. Indie will start making more of these movies, if we form audience movements like ours. Nobody’s ever done what we’re doing, and I want it to be a huge success. Literally, if people will pledge one dollar to the campaign, that’s one more person I can say became part of the movement. Where else can you say pledging one dollar will make that kind of a difference for women and girls?
Can you share one of your favorite moments from the set in the making of the film?
No lie, we had so many women in front of and behind the camera on this movie, that our periods synched up. Our craft service (snack table) guy went to my husband (also a producer on the film) and said, “man, all of a sudden, we are like OUT of chocolate and the camera girls are pissed!” Bruce gave him a fist full of cash and to go out and get chocolate immediately. Later we were asking around and realized a bunch of us were PMS’ing as we were working 16 hour shoot days. I thought that was hilarious. You can make a movie with a mostly female cast and crew, but for God’s sake, don’t run out of chocolate!
Campaign ends today at 3:30 P.M. PST. -> http://kck.st/1h9IMJ0