AMPAS ’16: Valerie Faris

Valerie Faris (along with her husband, film partner Jonathan Dayton) is an American film director and music video director known for her feature film directorial debut, Little Miss Sunshine. The couple also directed the 2012 romantic comedy-drama Ruby Sparks.

A dance student and native of Los Angeles County, California, Faris met Dayton at UCLA and the pair married and partnered to direct and produce music videos (for The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers to name a few) documentaries, commercials and films.

In 1998, they directed commercials through their production company, Bob Industries, for companies such as HP, Sony, Target, GAP, Ikea and Volkswagen. They went onto direct feature films like Little Miss Sunshine (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), The Abstinence Teacher and Ruby Sparks. Most recently they’ve directed I’m Proud of You, based on author Tim Madigan’s friendship with Fred Rogers, and 2016’s Battle of the Sexes starring Steve Carell and Emma Stone.


Excerpt from FF2 Media’s Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner’s chat with Faris and Dayton from July 13, 2006:

Val: It’s funny because I never really liked being called a “woman filmmaker.” I just like to be thought of as a filmmaker. And I think because we work so closely together, those things aren’t delineated. Jonathan’s an unusual man; we can talk about a lot of things that I would never have talked to my previous boyfriends about—and I’m probably not the most ultra feminine. I grew up with two brothers.

Jon: But having said that — even though we don’t wear our genders on our sleeves, you can’t deny that life experience as a man or a woman doesn’t inform the creative choices that you make.

Jan: And an example would be?

Jon: I think that Val was probably more sensitive to the issues of beauty and…

Val: Olive.

Jon: …and Olive. But, see, this is a good example where you think of Val not just as a woman, but as a dancer & someone who loves to dance.

Val: Having been a little girl, though, I think there was a way into that character for me: I remembered dancing in my living room at six years old, running around in circles. We both tried to find what is it in this little girl, what is it about that age that’s so incredible? Why would she want this? Why would she want to be at a pageant?

Read full chat:

Read more about Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton:

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight

Tags: AMPAS, Battle of the Sexes, Female Directors, FF2 Media, I'm Proud of You, Jonathan Dayton, Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks, Valerie Faris

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