After the electric Sundance Film Festival premiere for Late Night, the pic’s star/writer Mindy Kaling and director Nisha Ganatra woke to learn that their female-driven comedy Late Night sold to Amazon for an unprecedented $13M, as Deadline exclusively reported.
“Sundance has been a dream for so long, you read about it, this magical place called the Eccles theater. All you want is for people to see your movie, there was some pressure — a film with two female leads. Will there be an audience for a female-driven movie? And to have a record breaking deal for a female-driven movie is amazing,” says Ganatra.
“We’re so excited with the reception of the movie last night,” said Kaling.
Kaling and Ganatra were in conversation this afternoon at The Stella Artois & Deadline Sundance Series.
Late Night, inspired by Kaling’s own experiences being the only female writer of color on NBC’s The Office, follows her hooking a job on Tonight with Katherine Newbury, a major TV network late-night talk show whose British female host (Emma Thompson) is becoming something of a dinosaur in the era of fratboy stand-up comedians and late-night talk show hosts who’ve embraced social media and expanded their audiences.
Kaling said the spirit of the movie is about “about women helping other women; it’s about mentor-ship and how to become a mentor” adding “it’s a great workplace comedy.”
Late Night comes at a primetime in our culture with the zenith of Time’s Up. However, after the movement started a year ago, Kaling said that she didn’t fold in any new material into the script. She trusted the fact that the women’s issues in the workplace were “going to be the subject without having to add more,” said Kaling.
Kaling and Ganatra visited late night talks shows such as The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, and one of the takeaways they took from their trip, which is seen in the movie, is how late night talk show hosts typically work separately from their writing staffs.
Ganatra added that pic is “about opening the door behind you, and ushering more people in….We hold each other’s destinies in each other’s hands.”
Working in the fast-paced TV world assisted Kaling as an actress in mounting a 25-day indie feature production. “We finished this film five days ago,” said Ganatra about wrapping up the editing.
Asked about the strides that women have made in writing and directing, Kaling mentioned that there’s been a great change since she was the first woman in the writers’ room on The Office.
“There’s been a huge amount of change. It would not happen at all now. All the groups I run in, in comedy writing–there’s so many different camps. I think I would find that really strange (to find only one woman in a writers’ room),” said Kaling.
However on the directing side, Ganatra has noticed two forces: on one hand more female film directors are getting jobs in TV, but she acknowledged the downturn in female directors between 2017 and 2018. “The statistic is heartbreaking. Not exactly sure why that directing is still being held on by those in power.”
Up next for Kaling is her anthology of Four Weddings and a Funeral for Hulu, and she’s working with William Fisher on a half hour series for Netflix about a teenage Indian girl.