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Women rule behind scenes of movie

By: JESSICA Allison jessica.allison@gazette.com
July 26, 2013
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According to a recent San Diego State University study, only 13.8 percent of working writers in Hollywood are women. Tara Stone, who graduated from Lewis-Palmer High School, is one of them. And her film, "Red Line," hit iTunes, Amazon and Netflix's Video on Demand on Tuesday.

The movie follows commuters whose Los Angeles subway train derails after an explosion. Many passengers die on impact, but the few remaining survivors must stick together after finding another bomb and suspecting that the terrorist is in the group.

"I think they're (women are) out there. They're just not getting the distribution the same way men are," Stone says. "I think, for some reason, they're not seen as marketable."

The same San Diego State study found 2.8 percent of cinematographers are women, 24 percent are producers and 18 percent are editors. In "Red Line," women held all of these jobs.

The 27-year-old screenwriter says she doesn't know why more women aren't stepping up to hold these positions.

"I think a lot of times we're sort of waiting for somebody's permission to make a movie and we don't need to," she says. "There's no reason that I can't go out and write another script and go around and pitch it to investors myself."

Not only was "Red Line" led by a heavily female crew, it was put together by Stone and her classmates at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego, with a budget of about $220,000. The movie was filmed almost entirely on the university's sound stage.

Stone says the film was part of her senior project. Before "Red Line," she wrote a controversial Web series called "Bump+" and other short films, but felt the class was ready to put together a feature film.

The story was originally set in World War II and featured a group of people trapped in a wine cellar with a suspected Nazi spy among them.

"With the producers and the director, we all came up with a new idea for 'Red Line,' which is still using those same basic elements of people trapped together with the bad guy with them," Stone says.

Most of the cast and crew were students, but there were some hired professionals, such as casting director Beverly Holloway, whose connections got the film's lead, Nicole Gale Anderson, of Disney's "JONAS LA" and ABC Family's "Make it or Break It."

Because of Holloway, "Red Line" also features John Billingsley of "Star Trek: Enterprise."

"Having any actor make your script come to life is phenomenal," Stone says. "It's an incredible feeling. But having actors of that quality, it's unbelievable."

The film premiered at the 2012 San Diego Film Festival, where Stone says a distributer picked up the movie and has since sold the film in Germany, South Korea, Japan, China and France. It was released in Redbox machines in the United States on July 9.

For a movie that many said could not be done, "Red Line," has proven a huge success. Stone says she and the other film students of the Catholic university felt as if the hand of God was leading them through the project.

"It was a very challenging thing that we set out to do because the idea was to make a viable commercial film while teaching students at the same time," she says.

"To be honest the students blew me away."

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