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June 4, 2015

A Step Forward For Female-Driven Comedy
by WomenInComedy - 1

Caterine Moure

An Interview with Producer Jessica Elbaum

By Caterine Moure, WICF Guest Blog Contributor

[Cat Moure is an aspiring producer/comedian currently stuck in Florida until graduation. Find out if she makes it out alive by following her on Twitter @catmoure.]

The underrepresentation of women in the making of comedy (and film production in general) is no new discussion, but it’s a discussion that is gaining more attention, and with all that attention, there is more action being taken in solving this gender discrepancy.

Jessica Elbaum, producer of Bachelorette and executive producer of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, is one of the people that is taking action. After working under Will Ferrell’s and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions for 11 years, Elbaum learned the inner workings of the comedy world as an executive, and noticed an absence of women in the field that she wanted to address.

She hesitated when deciding to pitch the idea of a female-centric and driven production house.

"At the time that I produced Bacherlorette, it was a project that meant working with many amazing and talented women. I was out of the ‘dude environment.’ And I love working with Gary Sanchez and I will continue to in the future, but I started thinking about this idea of a company that would focus on women and give more opportunities for all the talented women in comedy to make film. I started thinking: why has no one come up with this? Are there enough opportunities for women to direct and write comedies?"

And it wasn't until a certain power in comedy told her to "go big or go home" that she took the leap of faith.

"Amy Poehler gave me the confidence to go forward with the project. She told me to do something big and do something important, and to do the things I believed in. Her saying that to me was so inspiring. Coming from someone like her, who has been so successful and has been such a prominent woman in comedy, it meant everything. Will and Adam couldn’t have been more supportive from the start, but hearing it from a woman, especially someone like Amy, gave me an extra push."

Elbaum’s idea hears criticism for isolating women in the comedy world. But she iterates that differentiating male and female comedy is not the purpose of this female-driven production company, which was named Gloria Sanchez Productions in correlation with Gary Sanchez.

Instead, the idea is for the company to act as a pipeline for women into comedy production. She assures critics that her vision for the company is bigger than the simplified male-or-female-comedy conversation.

"My vision for Gloria is to make good comedy. I'd rather not have that conversation about male or female comedy, but the statistics are there and women are underrepresented. Until that changes, we have to have some conversation. There's no real business model for Gloria but to make good movies. I went with my gut and thought about the market. It's a great time for something like this."

She was right. After Gloria Sanchez's launch last February, the company received a great response from critics and an influx of industry professionals interested in becoming a part of the project.

Already the company has produced Welcome to Me directed by Shira Piven starring Kristen Wiig and also produced Sleeping With Other People directed by Leslye Headland and starring Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis, in theatres August 12th of this year.

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