Written by Malin Evita
This Friday on the Making It: Women in Film podcast, Rachel Winter, the Oscar-nominated producer behind Dallas Byers Club and director of the new Paramount movie The Space Between, joined in to talk all about how she worked her way up the Hollywood ladder, the craft of storytelling, running a production, and her recent directorial debut. Here is a teaser from the interview – don’t forget to catch the full conversation available on Spotify and all other major podcast platforms the 16th of July.
“I’m a believer. I’m a dreamer,” Rachel tells me. The producer and director, most known for producing the critically acclaimed Dallas Byers Club, is sitting in front of a stunning home-library, tall walls covered in books, as she Zooms in from her residence in L.A.
“As a sucker for movie magic, I do feel a sense of magic stepping onto a set.” She says, talking about the different paths of lives that cross on a set, from cast to crew. “It cannot be done with just one or to or ten people. It takes a village.”
She has always been a storyteller before all else, that’s still how she feels about her craft today. “The stories have always been what has driven me,” she says. Like most, she had a colourful imagination as a child, but unlike many, she clung onto it, and ultimately made it her career. “I definitely rode an imaginary horse down a busy street at one point with my best friend,” she laughs in recollection.
But it was one movie in particular that truly cemented which industry her stories were to be told in. “When it came out in 1985, I saw The Breakfast Club at the mall as a young person – specifically who the movie was made for – and I could not get out of my seat when the movie ended. I was paralysed with, sort of, love and wonder and longing. I did not want that movie to end,” the love for that very special movie still oozes from her words.
“Before being a producer, before a director or writer, I think of myself as a storyteller.”
Rachel Winter got her start in the industry in the mid ‘90s – a decade that holds a near and dear place in her heart and is also the setting for her new movie and directorial feature debut: The Space Between – a movie whose script she first laid eyes on all the way back in 2002. Seventeen years after that first read, they started shooting, and now, almost two decades later, the film is finally here.
“That I’m sure sounds really depressing,” she says, “but, you know what? Try not to look at it that way. Try to be inspired.” One of the things that kept this rock of a movie from getting pushed across the Hollywood hills, was finding the right director. Then, in 2015, something happened. A switch flicked.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and was like [to her husband, screenwriter Terence Winter] “Oh my God, I have terrible news, honey. I’m supposed to direct this movie.”” “I had realised that I had been shooting it in my head for years and years and years, and no one was gonna know the movie and the characters and the story better than me at that point. They just couldn’t! I had a vision board, and I went to Steve Samuels, who owned the script, and my producing partners and I said “what do you guys think?” and they so kindly said “we believe in you,” and “you should do it,” and I think what they did know was that I wasn’t gonna walk away.”
The movie follows actor Kelsey Grammer in the role of Micky Adams – a wildly eccentric and faded rock star who’s losing his grip on reality while his record-label is desperately trying to get rid off his very costly contract with them. This is where Charlie Porter (portrayed by Jackson White), an aspiring A&R guy working at the mailroom of the record-label, volunteers for the task, desperate to make a name for himself. But as he comes to confront the obscure musician in his bizarre Montecito home, Micky realises that Charlie could be the key to an artistic breakthrough, and the pair’s unlikely friendship starts to bloom.
“On the surface, it’s a movie about a young man who is trying to change his stars,” she says, “under that, what the movie is about to me is… The 90s was a weird decade. It was us as a world not realising we were saying goodbye, permanently, to a life without full-blown technology. You can’t know that that was happening, but it was happening.” It was before Napster, a now mostly forgotten site that forever changed the music industry through digitalisation.
“It was really before technology completely took us and has us in the chokehold we have today – again, for better and for worse. For better because of the opportunities, it gives artists all over the world at any given moment. Maybe for worse because we no longer experience art in the same communal way like maybe, once upon a time in the ‘90s, a young person – female or male – would go to a bar to have to hear a band. Now you just pop something in, and you can listen to an artist [who is] on the other side of the globe.” She wanted to channel that humanity, similar to say John Hughes’ work, that captures that fiery life. “It’s a throwback film to a throwback time with a nod to something I don’t think we were quite aware was happening at the time.”
Watch The Space Between now, available to rent on demand for just $5.99.
Listen to our full interview with the Academy Award-nominated creative this Friday on Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts.) We are talking all about the details of her career journey into Hollywood (including an internship at a porn production house,) the Dallas Byers Club experience, getting directing advice from Angelina Jolie, and – of course – everything The Space Between behind the scenes!
Written by Malin Evita
Evita is the host and producer of the podcast, Instagram curator, and a writer focused on script, cultural commentary, and film analysis. She is a Vocal grand prize winner and recently finished studying Professional Writing at college. Through storytelling, she aims to amplify empathy and human connectivity.