Female Filmmaker Friday: Catherine Hardwicke, Director of Miss Bala

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Catherine Hardwicke is an American director, writer, producer, and production designer.

Hardwicke’s journey into filmmaking isn’t your typical "come to Hollywood" story. Being born and raised in Texas, she first went to the University of Texas in Austin to study architecture. Discovering it lacked the creativity she craved, Hardwicke moved to Los Angeles and studied film at UCLA. After school, she first became a production designer for such directors as Cameron Crowe and David O. Russell. Wanting to make her own films one day, Hardwicke took the opportunity to ask these directors advice, as well as paying attention onset and taking directing, writing, and acting classes.

In 2003, Hardwicke got her chance with Thirteen. Hardwicke had known co-writer and supporting actress, Nikki Reed, for a while when the teenager told her she wanted to be an actress and had an idea for a story. The two wrote the script for Thirteen, and Hardwicke went on to direct it. Rachel Evan Wood came on, staring as a thirteen-year-old Tracie who, influenced by Evie (Nikki Reed), starts to dabble in drugs, sex, theft, and self-harm. Holly Hunter plays Wood’s mother and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. The film received much praise from critics and gave Hardwicke the launching pad she needed into filmmaking.

Her next film came in 2005 with Lords of Dogtown, staring the late Heath Ledger. The film follows skateboarders in a fictionalized story that explores the culture. Hardwicke found her stride in directing The Nativity Story in 2006 about the birth of Christ.

In 2008, Hardwicke directed Twilight, the first of the four-film franchise, but not the other three. She followed itup with Red Riding Hood (2011), Plush (2013), Miss You Already (2015), as well as several episodes of various television shows.

On February 1st, Hardwicke’s film, Miss Bala, premieres in theaters. Staring Gina Rodriguez as Gloria, a girl who finds herself in the middle of a dangerous situation involving cross-border crime. Not only must she survive her captors, but fight back. It is based on the Mexican film of the same name.

Catherine Hardwicke's films deal with many themes, with adolescence being one of the main ones. Her characters, whether young or old, are navigating through life's toughest moments. Not always pretty, but more gritty and realistic. Thirteen is considered a "must-watch" for most teenagers, even though it does not speak to every teen's experience. Everyone can relate to a want and need to fit in, to find out who he or she is, and failing miserably most of the way. As impressive as Hardwicke's work as a filmmaker has been so far, it is easy to see she's only getting started.