Movies Like 'The Shallows' Are Turning The Tide For Women In Film, Says Producer Lynn Harris
For film producer Lynn Harris, every project comes with its own unique challenges. That charming summer scene in The Notebook where Noah and Allie walk down a small town street in the summer sun? "We filmed that right after a freak snowstorm," Harris, who produced the film, tells Bustle with a laugh. Most recently, on the set of her new thriller, The Shallows , Harris had to help the cast and crew navigate a hairy situation when the island where they were filming suddenly became infested with flocks of mating birds. "We really only had one chance to get certain shots," she says, "So we had to figure it out." But while those obstacles were fairly easy to navigate, there's one challenge Harris wants to tackle that's proving a bit more complicated — putting women at the forefront of the film industry. "I'm interested in movies about strong women," Harris explains. "That's what motors me."
It's no surprise that this type of storytelling feeds the producer's career. Years before producing The Shallows , about a woman (Blake Lively) forced to fend off a shark when stranded at sea, Harris was planning on a career in political journalism. Yet when she landed a position as a TV producer's assistant, she quickly realized a love for working with writers and directors. She ascended through the television world and eventually became Vice President of Lynda Obst Productions, the company behind favorites like Flashdance, Sleepless In Seattle, and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days. From there, Harris went on to serve as an exec at New Line Cinema and Warner Brothers while producing movies like Seven, Gravity, and Magic Mike. (Yup, we can basically thank her for bringing us Ryan Gosling's pout and Channing Tatum's abs). Over the years, Harris has established a truly trailblazing career, working with amazing women like the Wachowski sisters on their film Jupiter Ascending on films that are both aimed at women and featuring female stars.
Now at the helm of her own production company, Weimaraner Republic Pictures, Harris says she is excited to create even more movies about female strength and experiences, including June 24's The Shallows. "Choosing which movies to produce is like choosing movies as an executive," Harris says. "I choose things that I am passionate about, stories that can find an audience." In that vein, she's eager to reach for audiences that are frequently underserved, like women. In 2016, the Center For The Study Of Women In Television And Film reported that women made up only 19% of executive positions in the film industry in 2015, while making up only a slightly larger portion of producers, 26%. Harris says that she sees this disparity and is excited that The Shallows, which follows a lone woman surfer, fits in with her desire to end Hollywood's gender inequality.
"I'm glad to bring women's experiences to the screen and want there to one day be enough of them on screen that we don't have to have every single female character speak for all of us. I want fully-formed, three-dimensional characters," Harris says. She adds that thinks that Hollywood is no more or less sexist than the rest of the world, but that she specifically works against it by producing movies and hiring folks that turn the tide of the Hollywood.
It's a system full of sharks, for sure, but it's one that Harris continues to deftly navigate. Here's hoping that The Shallows has a successful opening weekend and becomes another feather in Harris' already-impressive cap.