Director’s Chair: Catherine Hardwicke

by Tony Cogan · June 3, 2019 · Director's Chair · 3 Comments

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Deadline: 29th June 2019

Hello everyone, it’s time to announce the director that will be featured for June and this month that director is Catherine Hardwicke.

Now Hardwicke got her start in the film industry in production design, utilising the skills she gained doing an architecture degree but able to be more creative than what was allowed by architecture, doing production design for films like Tombstone, Tank Girl, SubUrbia, Three Kings and Vanilla Sky, getting particular acclaim for Three Kings and Vanilla Sky and using her time on the sets of each of the films to hone her understanding of the filmmaking process, working on scripts and even taking acting classes to gain a better understanding of being a good director.

As a director, Hardwicke’s first film was Thirteen, working on the script of the film with one of the stars, Nikki Reed (who was 14 at the time of writing), basing the film around some of the experiences that Reed was going through and having a desire to have a film of that nature to be made with an age appropriate cast. The film was released to high acclaim, winning Hardwicke the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Holly Hunter.

After Thirteen, Hardwicke went on to work on Lords of Dogtown, a fictionalised look at skateboarding/surf culture in Venice Beach, inspired by the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, as well as her own knowledge of the Z-Boys from her experience as a surfer. The film received mixed reviews but was praised for the performance of Heath Ledger and the filmmaking used for the skating scenes, with Hardwicke hiring professional skateboarder and cameraman Lance Mountain to film the skateboarding scenes whilst riding along with the performers.

After Lords of Dogtown, Hardwicke moved on to The Nativity Story, with a goal of putting the story in the context of contemporary teenagers, along with casting an actress who would have been a similar age to Mary, according to the age girls married at that period in history.

After The Nativity Story came Hardwicke’s biggest commercial success with Twilight. Now Twilight has a terrible reputation for the way the series depicts the central romance between Edward and Bella and the perception of bad writing and performances but Twilight did have a massive impact on the film industry in the early 2010s, with a lot of films trying to replicate the success that Twilight had to mixed results. The success of Twilight meanwhile made Hardwicke the most financially successful female director at the time, although she chose not to return to direct the sequels.

Her next film after Twilight, Red Riding Hood, was seen by critics to be an attempt to capitalise on the success of Twilight and, although receiving some praise for Amanda Seyfried’s performance, was not successful critically or commercially. Her next film Plush also was not a critical or commercial success. After Plush, Hardwicke made Miss You Already, an adaptation of Morwenna Banks’ radio drama Goodbye, which received more positive reviews.

Her most recent film was Miss Bala, a remake of the 2011 Mexican film of the same name, which received mostly negative reviews and was a commercial failure, with the film being unfavourably compared to the Mexican original. She is currently working on a few TV shows, these being the new version of The Lost Boys and an adaptation of The Raven Cycle.

As a reminder, the list of Hardwicke’s films is included below.

  • Thirteen
  • Lords of Dogtown
  • The Nativity Story
  • Twilight
  • Red Riding Hood
  • Plush
  • Miss You Already
  • Miss Bala

I look forward to reading what you send me on the films of Catherine Hardwicke.