When we think of female film directors and their success in Hollywood, many names do not come to mind. According to DGA statistics, 95% of feature films are directed by men, and just 5% by women. With the success of Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow, the spotlight on female directors in Hollywood could not be brighter. In this boy's club called filmmaking, women directors have to have an edge and a special niche to attract a broad audience.
Director Tyler Maddox Simms is no rookie to the film game. Tyler is one of the few women behind the lens that is a triple threat with the ability to write, produce and direct films. Maddox is known for her first film “Beverly Hood,” featuring the original members of the Grammy winning R & B girl group Destiny’s Child. At the time of production, the Houston group was up-and-coming in the music industry. Since then, Tyler has went on to make more powerful films and has released "Who's Watching the Kids" and her latest film "Power of Love,"released in stores Tuesday. "Power of Love" has many great acts starring Vivica Fox, Joe Torry and Wood Harris.
Fallon Davis: What is it like being a female director in Hollywood?
Tyler Maddox Simms: It's hard at times and I have to work very hard for everything but, I am doing what I always wanted to do in life which is make films. So, I guess it all depends on the way you look at situations to get where you want to be.
FD: How did you get into filmmaking?
TMS: I have always wanted to make films. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio and I knew I had relatives in Los Angeles. When I turned 18 I moved to Los Angeles with my aunt. I started my career working as a production assistant doing every job I could for independent and major studios.
FD: What was your first financed project?
TMS: My first major project was a play called "Games" at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. After several meetings to get major distribution for my project I decided to fund it myself.
FD: What type of films does Maddox Entertainment make?
TMS: We make family entertainment, I love films that family's can enjoy. The core belief of my company is to use as less profanity as possible and show positive images.
FD: What was your inspiration for making "Power of Love"?
TMS: My inspiration is from God and a collaboration of different sources. "Power of Love" tells three contemporary stories, two are from a male perspective and the other a female.
FD: What message do you want your audience to gain from watching "Power of Love"
TMS: There is not a balance portraying positive relationships with African American people. Being a African American, I do not feel our audience gets to see enough of the positive side of our relationships. Many films subtly suggest a truth or realism from only one side, so why not suggest the positive and encouraging side?
FD: I noticed you were acting in your film! How was your experience acting and directing at the same time?
TMS: This was my first experience acting and I enjoyed it! The actor I wanted for the film was not available. I told myself the show must go on! I have had some training and I knew the character so I decided to step in.
FD: Tell me more about "Who's watching the kids?"
TMS: It is a film about two kids from Malibu who get dropped off by their uncle at a babysitters in South Central, Los Angeles. They decide to leave the babysitter and try to find their way home. Actors such as Master P's nephew Lil King Miller is one kid, Lavelle Crawford, Elise Neal and Malik Barnhardt are also starring in the film.
FD: Why do you distribute your films to DVD and retail outlets- skipping over theatrical release?
TMS: As filmmakers our major hurdle is getting distribution. When I could not get a major production deal anywhere, I decided to go independent. I was fortunate to pick up a distribution deal through major retailers a few years ago. You can make a wonderful film, but if you do not have anywhere to put it out, than it's just a beautiful film with no outlet to get to the masses. I would love eventually to go theatrical with my films but, I do not want to lose everything in the process. I would much rather make a film that I can have creative control over and release it for DVD, than make someone else's film. I hope with the numbers from my last two releases, I can began to work on my theatrical release next year.
FD: What advice would you give women directors and producers to move forward and stay motivated in this male dominated industry?
TMS: Never accept no for an answer. Prepare and make realistic goals for yourself. Get proper training and experience and keep pushing towards your goals. Find a way and do not compromise yourself to reach success.