Ladylike is a post-Gilded Age buddy comedy about two young society women who disguise themselves as men to sneak into The Players in Gramercy Park to meet their hero, Sarah Bernhardt, on her 1911 visit to New York City. A lot can change in one night—especially the very definition of "ladylike".
Mission StatementThrough a modern, comedic lens pointed at the beginning of the 20th century, Ladylike asks: what sort of innate power can we all find when we release ourselves from the expectations of the gender binary and just get to be...ourselves?
About The Project
What's It All About?
Besties LUCILLE and OLIVIA are in a pickle. Lucille is a well-to-do, yet very-less-than-proper firebrand—she'll be leading suffragist marches any day now if she has her way. Olivia is an exquisitely well-mannered “Lady-with-a-capital-L”, and utterly enthralled with the idea of romantic love. Their personal heroine, the great SARAH BERNHARDT, is coming to New York on tour with her latest play, and is making a special visit to The Players in Gramercy Park. Women are not allowed entrance to the club– except The Divine Sarah, for this One Night Only™️. Lucille has an idea: borrow Olivia’s brother MARTIN’s clothes and sneak in, easy peasy. But Olivia isn’t so sure...what would her fiance, NIGEL, think? After some major convincing, the two ladies swagger into the club in Martin’s finest, hoping for a glimpse of the superstar. As the gates lower for them to enter this hazy new world, they get a glimpse of life as a man: cigars, brandy, dancing like no one is watching, you get it. Free for one night only from the stifling corsetry of their life, their futures seem more full of possibilities. A lot can change in one night– especially the very definition of “ladylike.”
Why Us? Why Now?
In pre-COVID 2020, writer/director Taylor Coriell visited The Players in Gramercy for a filmmakers’ mixer– she had been there before as a guest and a performer, but had never heard the story of the “Sarah Bernhardt room”. Ms. Bernhardt (1844-1923) was a French-Jewish stage actress and one of the world’s first international superstars, taking centerstage in some of the most popular French plays and even a few of the theatre’s most coveted male roles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries... even Hamlet. “The Divine Sarah” ran her own company, made several worldwide theatrical tours, and was obsessed with the macabre– she famously slept in a coffin.
In 1911, on a tour to the US, she was granted special permission by the members of The Players, a gentlemen-only club in NYC, for one night only to see the chambers of the club’s founder, the late Edwin Booth, the actor-brother of the very late John Wilkes Booth. Upon arrival, she boarded the elevator to his apartments on the top floor—and proceeded to get stuck there for about an hour. When the fire brigade arrived to release her, she was so angry, she stormed from the club, never to return. The club has affectionately called the elevator “The Sarah Bernhardt Room” ever since. The story was so funny, and also a fascinating time capsule of the period. Things for women were changing so much, and yet, as we can see now, not at all during the turn of the century.
From there, the idea of two besties going on an adventure to meet their hero at her Taylor-Swift-level of megastardom seemed only natural– but what could two such women, constrained by the expectations of their gender at that time, take away from spending an evening breaking out of them? The social construct of gender assigns all the powerful traits of masculinity to the male sex– but what happens when those of the female sex take them on? And vice versa? And Taylor asked herself "How do I, as a cisgender woman, harness my inner masculinity in different spaces, and how does that change how others view me? How does it change how I view myself? What sort of innate power can we all find when we release ourselves from the rigid expectations of the gender binary?"
Diving into research of literature and history of the time, the striking parallels between 1911 and 2021 cannot escape notice. The Progressive Era that pushed its way through the US after the Reconstruction and the Gilded Age that followed saw the rise of populism, a disappearing middle class, and workers unionizing to fight back against massive corporations, and brought social justice marches as women and people of color fought tooth-and-nail for equality.
By weaving a modern aesthetic into the audio-visual fabric of the film, and including folks of all cultural backgrounds, abilities, gender identities, and sizes into a conversation that they should have been in on 100+ years ago, Ladylike underlines the suffocating limitations of the social construct of gender and all its intersections with personal identities, and reminds audiences that we have come so far and yet still have a long way to go.
What Do We Need?
We recently shot two scenes from Ladylike as a proof-of-concept. We filmed at the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion in The Bronx in October 2021. Your contributions and follows, along with the proof-of-concept, will go towards securing the funds we need for the full production of the feature film.
Our cast and crew are over 70% women, GNC, and/or BIPOC. The pandemic hit artists very hard, particularly underrepresented creators. We are excited to continue to provide employment to over 40 individuals in a time of job uncertainty.
Since Covid-19 still poses a threat to those working in person and the challenges of shooting these days are many, we will hire a Covid Compliance Officer, whose job it is to oversee safety on set, regarding health and well-being. The CCO helps us get everyone tested ahead of filming, and monitors symptoms throughout the shoot. On set, they help with cleaning, maintaining social distance, and reinforcing mask wearing. We take health and safety very seriously, so every crew member will wear masks, and in some cases, face shields. Cast will be masked when not acting, and social distance will be maintained as much as possible. Hiring a CCO for our proof-of-concept helped our team to feel as safe as possible. We will continue this practice with the feature film.
Here is a breakdown of how we will use the funds raised through Seed&Spark:
How Can You Help?
Follow our campaign to stay up-to-date on all things Ladylike! It's 100% free! Plus Seed&Spark will reward us— the more followers we get, the more we unlock products, services, and festival fee waivers courtesy of Seed&Spark!
To get our "greenlight", we have to collect 80% of our crowdfunding goal to keep our funds. No pledge is too small!
Do you perhaps have a service or item you can donate or loan? Check out our wishlist and feel free to make a loan request or email us at [email protected]
TELL A FRIEND
Got a friend who loves buddy comedies? Period pieces? Discussions about gender roles and expression? Send them our link @ www.ladylikefilm.com
Social media more your style? We'll send a few sample posts/tweets in our next update!
What Do YOU Need?
The last year has been hard—we don't need to tell you why. This film has important social issues to discuss, and we are ready to have those conversations with you, your friends, and your family.
But, at the end of the day, Ladylike is a joyful, warm-hug-of-a-film about two best friends having a great adventure and being there for each other when it matters most.
Plus, any donation above $250 is tax-deductible! Ladylike is a fiscally sponsored project of Pitch Her Productions, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions in support of Ladylike are payable to PHP and are tax-deductible, less the value of any goods or services received, as allowed by law. If you would like to deduct the entire donation, decline the reward at checkout.
Thank so much for catching up with us—we know you have a lot of choices when it comes to what projects you decide to support, and we're ever so grateful that you've considered Ladylike!
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About This Team
WRITER | DIRECTOR
A redhead who hails from Kentucky, TAYLOR CORIELL (she/her) is a New York-based actor, writer, and award-winning filmmaker. She was a Semifinalist for Script Pipeline's 2021 TV Writing Competition, a Finalist for Catalyst Content Fest's 2019 Live Pitch Competition, and a two-time Semifinalist for the 2017 & 2018 Sundance/YouTube New Voices Labs. The first season of her digital series, You’re The Pest, received a spot in Big Vision, Empty Wallet’s Kickstart Diversity incubator, and made a highly successful run of the 2018/2019 international festival circuit, collecting awards and nominations for Best Acting, Best Ensemble, Best Writing, Best Comedy, and Best of The Fests along the way. Taylor also originated the role of Pam Beesly in the Off-Broadway hit The Office! A Musical Parody in NYC where she finished her year long run in the Keds-of-honor right before *whispers* the pandemic. You can check out her other recent writing, directing, and producing projects at www.taylorcoriell.com. On an unrelated note, Barack Obama follows Taylor on Twitter (no, for real).
PRODUCER | "OLIVIA"
LAUREN SOWA (she/her) is a New York-based actor and filmmaker. As an actor, she has been featured in The Plot Against America (HBO), FBI (CBS), The Rainbow Experiment (Slamdance, Amazon Prime), and The Devil’s Well. Upcoming: The indie feature Paris is in Harlem. In 2016, she co-founded Form & Pressure Films. Their first film, Marisol, is currently streaming on HBO and won the HuffPost Impact Award in 2019. As a producer, her films have screened in festivals all over the world. She currently serves as Co-President of NYC Women Filmmakers, a non-profit organization. Lauren received her BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a proud member of Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA.
JENNY PAUL (she/her) is an award winning actress, producer, director, and educator based in New York City with a Magna Cum Laude degree in Theater Arts from Brandeis University and a CORe Credential from Harvard Business School. Her best known credits include Hulu’s The Looming Tower starring Jeff Daniels, Netflix/Marvel’s Jessica Jones, internationally-acclaimed webseries That Reminds Me..., and the first-of-its-kind, shoppable, interactive series, Adulting with Jane, in addition to dozens of other award-winning films, theatrical shows, commercials, TV, and new media projects. Jenny is the founder and CEO of Intent Entertainment and PennyPants Productions, as well as a co-founder of 5lvin Productions. www.JennyPaul.info
EDWARD MISKIE (he/him) is an actor, singer, writer, and producer based out of New York City. He is the 2011 recipient of the Roger Sturtevant Actors' Equity Scholarship Award, and author of Cancer, Musical Theatre, and Other Chronic Illnesses; a book and podcast. As an actor, Edward has performed all over the country in roles such as Julian Marsh in 42nd Street, Fred Graham in Kiss Me Kate, Bob Wallace in White Christmas, Bill Austin in Mamma Mia, and Sir Evelyn Oakleigh in Anything Goes. He is also the founding member, cast, and producer of BariToned Does Broadway's Leading Ladies which has toured the US, as well as played such NYC venues as Green Room 42 and The Birdland Theatre. During Pandiland, Edward wrote, recorded, and produced his debut album as Edward the First titled Renaissancing, featuring a single and music video of the same name. He is the proud founder and owner of Iron Unicorn Media; a production company that focuses on strong women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ communities. Flex your fabulous! For more on Edward, visit www.edwardmiskie.com, @edwardmiskie on IG, or @EdwardsNYC on TikTok.
MADISON HATFIELD (she/her) is a writer, actor, and filmmaker based in Atlanta, GA. Her debut feature film Pageant Material, co-written with her collaborator and Peach Jam Pictures co-founder Jono Mitchell, was an official selection of the 2019 Atlanta Film Festival. Their award-winning follow-up short Jenna Gets An Abortion, in which Madison also stars, premiered online in the spring of 2020. In 2021 she co-wrote, produced, and acted in the feature films, Miles From Nowhere and Courtney Gets Possessed, which she also co-directed. She also wrote and produced three shorts, Making a Scene, Thirty Candles, and Post-Citrus, her solo directorial debut. All five of these projects are slated for release in 2022. In addition to their independent productions, she and Mitchell are currently writing a film adaptation of a to-be-announced queer YA coming-of-age novel for Walden Media. She is proudly represented by The Gotham Group for literary and Stewart Talent as a performer.
CAROLINE MARIKO STUCKY (she/they) is a Swiss-Japanese filmmaker based in NYC, working in narrative, documentary, music video, commercial, and corporate films. www.carolinemarikostucky.com
KIMBERLY CHATTERJEE (she/her) is a South Asian-American actor based in New York City. TV/Film credits include High Maintenance (HBO) and the indie short 18 by Michelle Bossy (Austin Film Festival). Off-Broadway credits include the NYTimes Critic's Pick and Drama Desk-nominated play Life Sucks by Aaron Posner (Wheelhouse Theater Co), Dance Nation (Playwrights Horizons), the world premiere of Kate Hamill's Pride & Prejudice (Primary Stages), and The Tempest (Classical Theatre of Harlem). Regionally, she's performed at The Guthrie, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, The Wilma, and more. She's workshopped new musicals with Live & In Color, New Dramatists, Asolo Rep, and others. Training: NYU New Studio on Broadway; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. www.KimberlyChatterjee.com
PITCH HER PRODUCTIONS is a non-profit production company formed for the purpose of encouraging, fostering, and promoting the advancement of women in the film industry, including the creation of more roles for women, both in front of and behind the camera. We seek to enhance the female voice and to inspire girls and women of all ages. Our desire is to create work that benefits female artists and filmmakers, a demographic which has historically been underrepresented in the film industry.
The founders, Caitlin Morris, Gloria Muñoz and Chanel Waterhouse, became friends doing theater on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where all three were born and raised. Though they attended different colleges, spread across the country, and individually honed in on their own respective paths, these three managed to stay friends, knowing that one day their shared interests in creativity and activism would spawn a collaboration. Over a decade since they first met as awkward teenagers, they have finally formed a company to pursue a better and more egalitarian tomorrow.