Oscar-winning producer Geralyn Dreyfous and her partner Dan Cogan will help finance “Be Natural,” a documentary about pioneer female filmmaker Alice Guy-Blache.
Dreyfous and Cogan have had their hands on several of the top documentaries over the past few years, including “The Square” and “The Crash Reel” — two of this year’s Oscar hopefuls — as well as recent favorites “The Invisible War, “How to Survive a Plague” and “Born Into Brothels.”
They seek stories with a socially conscious slant, and “Be Natural” fits right into that mission. The film traces the career of Guy-Blache, her role in the development of cinema and her importance for young women who aspire to direct.
“What is most exciting about the idea is through detective work and storytelling they are bringing the story of one of the great founders of cinema into the mainstream, and she happens to be a woman,” Cogan said. “This is an issue of great importance to us. More than 50 percent of the directors we work with are women, but gender equality in the film business outside of documentaries is disappointing.”
Filmmakers Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs have already begun work on “Be Natural,” interviewing directors Catherine Hardwicke, Julie Taymor, Jon Chu and Ava DuVernay, actor Sir Ben Kingsley, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and writer Diablo Cody.
They already raised more than $200,000 via a Kickstarter campaign, which is how Dreyfous and Cogan first found out about this project. The two producers will contribute high six figures for production through their company Impact Partners, as will Regina Scully, CEO of the Artemis Rising Foundation. Scully produced “The Invisible War” and “Miss Representation.”
Green and her partners will use the funding to uncover more information about the revolutionary filmmaker, whose work predates iconic early movies like Edwin S. Porter’s “The Great Train Robbery” and D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of Nation.”
They will head to France, Belgium and other countries to uncover more films, archival footage and documents. When Guy-Blache died, only three of her films were available. Now more than 150 have been found.
“Kickstarter opened up a whole new box of information,” Green told TheWrap. “This couldn’t have happened 20 years ago. We didn’t’ have relationships with people across the world, but we found other films and have more people coming aboard.”
Filmmaker Mark Romanek and actress Evan Rachel Wood are two of the new interview subjects, and the financiers are hoping that their involvement, combined with the historical story, give the movie commercial potential.
“I see this film as falling in that tradition of great work of cinema with immense commercial potential,” Cogan said. “And it makes an important statement around place of women in history of cinema.”