Julie Bowen, Rosario Dawson, Nikki Reed and More Go Behind the Camera to Inspire Young Women

Rosario Dawson, Julie Bowen, Nikki Reed, Lisa Edelstein and Ana Brenda Contreras debut short films aimed at empowering young girls.

The Power On Anthology showcased some “new” talent Wednesday evening with some well-known names making their directorial debut.

The series, created by Straight Up Films’ co-CEO Marisa Polvino (who also serves as a producer), is dedicated to inspiring young girls to pursue STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) featured five short films directed by Julie BowenRosario DawsonNikki Reed, Ana Brenda Contreras and Lisa Edelstein.

Each film told a story, one that embraced each of the aspects of STEAM, that the directors found near and dear to their hearts, with all but Edelstein getting behind the camera for the first time. (more…)

Rosario Dawson, Julie Bowen, Nikki Reed, Lisa Edelstein and Ana Brenda Contreras debut short films aimed at empowering young girls.

The Power On Anthology showcased some “new” talent Wednesday evening with some well-known names making their directorial debut.

The series, created by Straight Up Films’ co-CEO Marisa Polvino (who also serves as a producer), is dedicated to inspiring young girls to pursue STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) featured five short films directed by Julie BowenRosario DawsonNikki Reed, Ana Brenda Contreras and Lisa Edelstein.

Each film told a story, one that embraced each of the aspects of STEAM, that the directors found near and dear to their hearts, with all but Edelstein getting behind the camera for the first time.

“I got asked to be in Nikki’s short, and I walk in and say, ‘Is this a thing?’” Dawson, 39, whose film was titled Boundless, recalls with a laugh. “So I was like, ‘Why didn’t you ask me [to direct]?’ And they said, ‘You want to do one, go on ahead.’ And I was like, ‘Oh no! Now I gotta do one!’”

Bowen, who has since gone on to direct an episode of Modern Family, was doing what she refers to as an “internship” with Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation when she was offered the opportunity to helm her own short film, Girl Code.

“I was one of the later ones to the party,” the actress, 49, tells PEOPLE. “So that I knew that they had some more serious content, but I knew that my wheelhouse was definitely going to be lighter content.”

“I have a 14-year-old niece,” she adds, “And I thought, ‘I want to do something that will appeal to her. What would she watch, start to finish, and not click away from after 22 seconds, that didn’t feel preachy and was fun?’”

Nikki Reed, 30, the self-described “guinea pig” of the series, was the first to sign on to the project, and dove right in, bringing along Gina Rodriguez, and eventual fellow director Dawson.

“I seem to gravitate towards the inspirational, towards material that feels real,” says Reed. “To me, I wanted to tackle a subject that feels aspirational, and inspirational, with something that is very grounding and very real.”

And while Edelstein and Contreras’ pieces dealt with the heavier issues of personal loss and grief (Contreras’ film Wingbeat was dedicated to her father who had recently died), the mood of the evening was consistently buoyed by the passion of its participants and an audience packed with young female students who epitomize what Power On strives to be.

The producer of the series, Ngoc Nguyen summed up the night, which ended with a Q&A that had the directors peppered with poignant questions from the young and rabidly curious audience, by saying: “Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in shifting culture. When young kids see someone who looks like them on screen, presented in a positive manner, it evokes pride and confidence in immeasurable ways. We wanted the films to be truly representative of the world we live in, which is a world rich with diversity.”

Shorts Encourage Women to STEAM Careers

Straight Up Films created the anthology “Power/On” of five shorts focused on encouraging girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math with the arts thrown in) directed by actresses Rosario DawsonJulie Bowen, Ana Brenda Contreras, Lisa Edelstein, and Nikki Reed. With support from YouTube, the shorts premiered Wednesday at the Google campus in Playa Vista and will be available for streaming on YouTube on April 26.

Each film centers on women and girls working on and interacting with a different technological advancement.

Rosario Dawson told Variety at the anthology’s world premiere, “The point of this series is to show all the different ways people can show up for their family, their friends, their community by pushing themselves when they see a problem. Maybe a solution doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be created.” She hopes that her work behind the camera will allow girls to see her as a role model, including her own daughter. (more…)

Straight Up Films created the anthology “Power/On” of five shorts focused on encouraging girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math with the arts thrown in) directed by actresses Rosario DawsonJulie Bowen, Ana Brenda Contreras, Lisa Edelstein, and Nikki Reed. With support from YouTube, the shorts premiered Wednesday at the Google campus in Playa Vista and will be available for streaming on YouTube on April 26.

Each film centers on women and girls working on and interacting with a different technological advancement.

Rosario Dawson told Variety at the anthology’s world premiere, “The point of this series is to show all the different ways people can show up for their family, their friends, their community by pushing themselves when they see a problem. Maybe a solution doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be created.” She hopes that her work behind the camera will allow girls to see her as a role model, including her own daughter.

“Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen talked to Variety about her experience at an all-girls school. “The messaging at the time was, ‘you’re going to an all-girls school because when girls raise their hands in math and science class they call on the boys.’ We needs to just get rid of that message.” Bowen spent time shadowing directors on set of “American Horror Story” as a participant of Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, a program designed to increase women and minority directors. She said the initiative gave her “positive encouragement” and helped her take on directing her short “Girl Code.”

Jenna Ortega, who appears in Bowen’s short film, said, “I want people to get inspired by seeing themselves, of all different colors and backgrounds, on screen.” Ortega, 16, is outspoken on social issues and said her interest in politics began at 6 years old. She will star in the upcoming second season of “You.”

“The point of this whole event is to inspire young girls to follow their dreams and encourage them to use their imagination and let them know that that is their superpower,” said actress Lisa Edelstein, who directed the short “Lulu.” “We need more women stepping up and giving a hand to other women. Not to push men out the door, but there are a lot of stories to tell and they don’t all come from a male perspective.”

Ana Brenda Contreras directed the shot film “Wingbeat.” “Directing is something I wanted to do for a long time. It sends the message that you can do whatever you want to do in life,” she said. “Careers don’t have a gender.”

“We need to shatter the misconception in young girls that they are not as inherently good at math or engineering. These are learned skills,” said “Andy’s Song” director Reed. Reed recently started an environmentally conscious fashion company.

Straight Up Films, a female founded and run production company, produced the series in association with Cinema Giants. Straight Up Films co-CEO Marisa Polvino said, “When we came up with the idea for the series, it was important to us to champion women who had never had the opportunity to direct before and we also wanted to reach the widest possible audience of young girls who are our emerging leaders. YouTube was the perfect fit for our stories and we are grateful, not only for their support, but for their leadership’s shared vision.”

Catherine Hardwick To Direct ‘Dissonance’ Adaptation With Andrea Seigel Scripting

Catherine Hardwick, who has directed such films as TwilightRed Riding Hood, and Thirteen, has signed on to direct the fantasy film Dissonance for Straight Up Films and Envision Media Arts. Andrea Seigel (Laggies) is adapting the screenplay for the film, which is based on the 2014 book of the same name by Erica O’Rourke. (more…)

Catherine Hardwick, who has directed such films as TwilightRed Riding Hood, and Thirteen, has signed on to direct the fantasy film Dissonance for Straight Up Films and Envision Media Arts. Andrea Seigel (Laggies) is adapting the screenplay for the film, which is based on the 2014 book of the same name by Erica O’Rourke.

The story centers around Del, a young woman who has the ability to walk between these alternate realities and is entrusted with keeping the dimensions in harmony. When she secretly starts to investigate other dissonant worlds, Del uncovers a secret that threatens the survival of the entire multiverse.

Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen of Straight Up (Transcendence) are producing the project with Lee Nelson and David Tish from Envision (Celeste and Jesse Forever). Exec producers are Tim Degraye and Liliane Huguet of White Knight Pictures, Beaux Carson, and David Buelow.

Hardwicke, who directed Sony’s upcoming Miss Bala remake, starring Gina Rodriguez, is repped by CAA and Manage-Ment. Seigel is repped by UTA and Writ Large.

Louis Leterrier To Helm ‘Alex’; Pierre Lemaitre Novel Adaptation Launches Financier/Producer Eclipse Pictures

EXCLUSIVELouis Leterrier will direct Alexan adaptation of the bestselling crime novel by French author Pierre Lemaitre. The script is being written by David Birke, who’s coming off the Paul Verhoeven-directed Elle, the drama that bought an Oscar nomination for Isabelle Huppert.

Alex launches Eclipse Pictures, a production, financing and sales company formed by Benedict Carver and Daniel Diamond. Straight Up Films’ Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen, who acquired the novel rights, will produce with Carver and Diamond. Eclipse will fund development and production, and will handle worldwide sales. (more…)

EXCLUSIVELouis Leterrier will direct Alexan adaptation of the bestselling crime novel by French author Pierre Lemaitre. The script is being written by David Birke, who’s coming off the Paul Verhoeven-directed Elle, the drama that bought an Oscar nomination for Isabelle Huppert.

Alex launches Eclipse Pictures, a production, financing and sales company formed by Benedict Carver and Daniel Diamond. Straight Up Films’ Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen, who acquired the novel rights, will produce with Carver and Diamond. Eclipse will fund development and production, and will handle worldwide sales.

The novel has franchise potential: It is the second of a book trilogy by Lemaitre known as The Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy, with both Alex and its follow-up, Camille, winning the CWA International Dagger Award. Leterrier is eyeing a start late this year or early next. The novel follows French detective Camille Verhoeven as he pursues clues and suspects following the brutal kidnapping of a young woman, Alex Prévost, on the streets of Paris. He soon learns that Alex – beautiful, resourceful, and tough – is no ordinary victim. The novel’s set in Paris, but the film will be English-language and set in an international location.

Best known for helming the films Now You See Me and Transporter, Leterrier read the book after a friend recommended it, finished it in one sitting and searched out the rights that were controlled by James B Harris. “I’ve done big Hollywood action movies and comedies and this was not a genre I was looking for, but the tone is so interesting and it plays against the typical female protagonist trope,” Leterrier told Deadline. “It’s edgy and kinetic and it has taken me four years to get to this point. It could be the French Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but is also reminiscent of Chan-wook Park movies like Oldboy in the unexpected twists and turns. Benedict and Daniel will take it to Cannes, we’ll find the actor and actress and off we go. This is my passion project.”

Harris, Patrice Theroux and Tracey Bing will be the exec producers. Letterier’s repped by CAA, Management 360 and attorney Robert Offer; Birke, who most recently scripted the Sylvain White-directed Screen Gems thriller Slender Man, is with Paradigm, Madhouse and attorney Bruce Gelman. Attorneys Bob Wyman and Richard Rapkowski negotiated for Straight Up and Eclipse, respectively.

Diane Kruger to Star in, Produce Hedy Lamarr Miniseries (Exclusive)

Diane Kruger is teaming with Straight Up Films to tell the story of silver-screen and communications technology pioneer Hedy Lamarr.

Kruger is producing with the intent to star in what is envisioned to be a TV miniseries adaptation of the Richard Rhodes book Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

Google and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are also collaborating on the development of the project. (more…)

Diane Kruger is teaming with Straight Up Films to tell the story of silver-screen and communications technology pioneer Hedy Lamarr.

Kruger is producing with the intent to star in what is envisioned to be a TV miniseries adaptation of the Richard Rhodes book Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

Google and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are also collaborating on the development of the project.

Lamarr, who first began acting in her native Austria, lit up American cinema in the late 1930s and 1940s, starring in Comrade X with Clark Gable, Tortilla Flat with Spencer Tracy and Samson & Deiliahwith Victor Mature. Her career fell into a sad decline in the 1950s and '60s, but it was in her pre-war life that she made a lasting impact that would only be recognized decades later.

Lamarr first married when she was 18, to a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer with ties to both governments in Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. And while her husband was a man who ruled their marriage with an iron fist, he introduced her to scientists working in the military. This nurtured her latent curiosity and she worked on inventions in her off-hours even when she made her way to America.

While most of her inventions didn’t go far, during World War II and while under contract with MGM, Lamarr and a friend invented a frequency-hopping radio signal that they patented. They approached the military, who at the time turned them away. It was only a generation later that the military began looking at it and using it. The technology, called Spread Spectrum Technology, now underpins Bluetooth and WiFi use.

Her technological contribution was recognized very late in life, and in 2014 she was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

“I am fascinated by Hedy Lamarr,” said Kruger in a statement. “She was a smart, witty, visionary inventor, way ahead of her time, who also happened to be a major movie star. I cannot wait to tell her story to make sure her legacy will live on forever and inspire others.”

Kruger picked up the rights to Pulitzer Prize-winner Rhodes’ book and will produce with Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen and Sandra Condito of Straight Up Films, which counts Jane Got a Gun andTranscendence among its credits. Abi Harris and Jason Weinberg of Untitled Entertainment will also produce.

Gene Kelly and Rose Ganguzza will executive produce with the collaboration of biographer Rhodes and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the philanthropy organization that has focus on science and technology. The foundation has been quietly celebrating Lamarr, giving Rhodes a book grant, a production grant for the documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, and will now support Kruger with a screenwriting development grant.

Kruger, who won the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year for the German-language drama In the Fade, recently wrapped a JT Leroy film opposite Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern. She next shoots an untitled Robert Zemeckis drama opposite Steve Carell for Universal.

Kruger is repped by Untitled Entertainment, UTA and Altitude Management.

Shot! Poster Puts David Bowie’s Official Photographer In The Frame

For decades, British photographer Mick Rock has been one of the best known visual chroniclers of the music scene — and not just because his name could hardly be more a propos.

Rock has photographed everyone from Queen to Lou Reed to Iggy Pop to Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett to David Bowie, for whom he worked as official photographer back in the ’70s. Now, the “snapper” is himself in the frame thanks to the new, Barnaby Clay-directed documentary, Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock, which is released in theaters, and via VOD, Amazon Video, and iTunes,  April 7.

Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ in the Works as Movie

Straight Up Films has acquired the movie rights to Viktor Frankl’s memoir “Man’s Search for Meaning” and is launching development. (more…)

Straight Up Films has acquired the movie rights to Viktor Frankl’s memoir “Man’s Search for Meaning” and is launching development.

SUF co-founders Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen will produce with Kevin Hall. The company and Hall have acquired the rights from the Frankl estate.

Marlene Siskel will executive produce. Producers are currently out to potential screenwriters to adapt the non-fiction book into a narrative feature film.

“This is a memoir that has actually changed lives, including ours, and has impacted generations in the way we look at the world and how we navigate its sometimes treacherous pathways,” said Cohen and Polvino. “It will be our absolute honor and privilege to bring this classic story to the screen. We are thankful to Mr. Frankl’s heirs for entrusting us with his story.”

Film Adaptation Of ‘Thief’ Video Game Series Coming From Straight Up Films

Straight Up Films is getting into the video game movie business and is producing a feature adaptation of the Square Enix video game series Thief, with Roy Lee and Adrian Askarieh also producing. Lee is producing under his Vertigo Entertainment banner. Sandra Condito, President of Production at Straight Up Films will exec produce alongside Khalid Jones of Source Rock and Square Enix, and Adam Mason and Simon Boyes have been tapped to write the script. (more…)

Straight Up Films is getting into the video game movie business and is producing a feature adaptation of the Square Enix video game series Thief, with Roy Lee and Adrian Askarieh also producing. Lee is producing under his Vertigo Entertainment banner. Sandra Condito, President of Production at Straight Up Films will exec produce alongside Khalid Jones of Source Rock and Square Enix, and Adam Mason and Simon Boyes have been tapped to write the script.

First launched by Looking Glass Studios in 1998, the Thief series consists of several stealth-based first person perspective games set in a fantasy steampunk world that resembles a cross between the late Middle Ages and the Victorian era. Ownership of the franchise passed hands several times before ending up at Square Enix subsidiary Edios Montreal. The series received a reboot in 2014 that may serve as the inspiration for the film.

Mason and Boyes are repped by WME, Luber Roklin, and George Davis.

How Mick Rock, Music Photographer, Spends His Sundays

There is no slowing down for the British photographer Mick Rock, who has spent some 50 years capturing images of pop and rock stars like David Bowie, Ellie Goulding, Janelle Monáe and Lou Reed. Between shoots, Mr. Rock, 68, edits his photography books and travels all over the world to attend his exhibition openings. A documentary about his life, “SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock,” will be released on April 7 by Magnolia Pictures. Mr. Rock lives in Livingston, Staten Island, with his wife, Pati, who works in real estate, and their two Maine coon cats, Bellini and Razor. (more…)

There is no slowing down for the British photographer Mick Rock, who has spent some 50 years capturing images of pop and rock stars like David Bowie, Ellie Goulding, Janelle Monáe and Lou Reed. Between shoots, Mr. Rock, 68, edits his photography books and travels all over the world to attend his exhibition openings. A documentary about his life, “SHOT! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock,” will be released on April 7 by Magnolia Pictures. Mr. Rock lives in Livingston, Staten Island, with his wife, Pati, who works in real estate, and their two Maine coon cats, Bellini and Razor.

AN EXTRA HOUR I’m usually up by 10. It’s an hour later than usual, but I can do it on a Sunday, and it’s a nice indulgence. Pati wakes up an hour or two before me.

SHAKE IT UP I head downstairs to make a protein shake. I never used to eat breakfast, but Gabrielle Francis, this amazing woman on Grand Street who is a chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist and nutritionist all in one, and who I’ve been seeing for three years, has gotten me into the habit of having this shake first thing in the morning.

MORNING MANTRAS A big benefit of living in Staten Island is the amount of space Pati and I have. This includes a huge bedroom, and I use the floor area in there to do a 75-minute yoga routine. I start with meditation, then stand on my head for about 10 minutes and then go through various postures. I finish with chanting mantras I’ve learned over the last 18 years that I’ve been practicing Kundalini yoga.

CHILL Right after yoga, I take a hot shower, but I always end with a cold rinse which gives me a boost of energy. I wear jeans and either a black T-shirt, denim shirt or black sweater, depending on the weather, and I’m dressed for the day. I head back downstairs and have a cup of coffee.

TURN BLUE Around 2, we get out of the house for a late brunch. Normally, we go to this place called Blue. I haven’t eaten meat for over 40 years. I may get a veggie burger with sweet potato fries, cereal, a salad or an egg white omelet with toast. Pati eats everything, so she may get bacon and eggs or sausage with pancakes and maybe a glass of wine. There’s no wine for me because I don’t drink alcohol.

STROLL AND SHOOT We like going on a long walk when we’re done with brunch and tend to head to Snug Harbor Cultural Center to get our fix. It’s near our house and used to be a home for sailors but now has a beautiful Chinese garden, a theater, a gallery and tons of areas for walking. I like taking pictures during our stroll. Tree shots are a favorite, but I also take snaps of ponds, bridges, plants or anything else that catches my eyes. Sometimes, I’ll take the pictures with my iPhone camera or else I’ll carry my Canon G1 X.

COUCH TIME We’ll watch football when it’s in season and watch movies, too, like black-and-white film noir, documentaries or anything with Humphrey Bogart. Bellini and Razor sit with us while we watch. They like to be petted.

MAN AT WORK I hit work again in the early evening. Rock photography is a big deal compared with when I started, and the art of it is much more appreciated, both from a monetary and artistic perspective. This is good for me, but it means that I rarely get a full day off.

JAZZY DINNER Pati will cook for us. There’s some fish for me and maybe chicken or red meat for her. Pasta is sometimes on the menu, and she gets jazzy with vegetables; it could be roasted brussels sprouts or heirloom carrots with ginger.

NIGHTTIME NEWS Sunday evenings are for reading, usually The New York Times. Pati reads the entire paper, and I read the Book Review, Sunday Review, Sports and Arts & Leisure. She heads to bed at 11, and I wander upstairs around midnight. Two decades ago, I used to stay up all night, but, considering I’m in my late 60s, I still think of myself as a night owl.

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo Song Inspires First Animated Film From Jeremy Renner & Don Handfield’s The Combine

Jeremy Renner and Don Handfield are producing the first animated film through their banner the Combine, along with Straight Up Films and Cinesite. I.F. (Imaginary Friend) is inspired by the song “Imaginary Friend” by two-time Grammy-nominated kid-hop artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo from his album Perfect Quirk. Development and pre-production will begin this year with some stellar talent aboard. (more…)

Jeremy Renner and Don Handfield are producing the first animated film through their banner the Combine, along with Straight Up Films and Cinesite. I.F. (Imaginary Friend) is inspired by the song “Imaginary Friend” by two-time Grammy-nominated kid-hop artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo from his album Perfect Quirk. Development and pre-production will begin this year with some stellar talent aboard.

First off, the Combine produced John Lee Hancock’s Michael Keaton-starrer The Founder which hits theaters nationwide January 20. Dave Rosenbaum, Cinesite’s chief creative officer and head of Cinesite’s new Montreal animation studios, will oversee development and production; he was one of the original employees of Illumination Entertainment and was involved in the hits Despicable Me, Minions and Golden Globe-nominated Sing. Shane Morris, who got a “story by” credit for Frozen, is writing the script; he is credited with helping develop the song into a story that landed the financing for the picture.

Marisa Polvino and Kate Cohen will finance and produce through their Straight Up Films banner along with Nick Sarkisov. Kelly Woyan and Philip G. Flores will also produce for Combine.

“As parents, we have always wanted to make an animated film that our kids could watch and find relatable,” said Renner and Handfield in a statement. “We are excited to embark on this journey with Straight Up Films and the incredible creative team of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and writer Shane Morris. We also couldn’t have asked for a better partner in Dave Rosenbaum and the team at Cinesite.”

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s latest album Infinity Plus One is nominated for a Grammy for Best Children’s Album. Morris is repped by Zero Gravity Management.