Emily Corcoran, the Renaissance Film Woman: an antidote to movie misogyny   30 Oct 2017

Cork Films

In the misogynistic wake of the Harvey Weinstein accusations, has the antidote to redirect the movie industry's treatment of women come in the form of a writing, producing, acting, pregnant woman? 

With a female driven movie, starring a woman, with balanced supporting male to female characters - where all the men die and the women survive without being abused. In spite of having consensual sex with strangers and drinking whisky - is 'The Stolen' set in 1860s gold rush New Zealand, actually a film for our times?

Emily Corcoran thinks so.  She should know - Writer, Producer, Actress and Mother 

As women we take steps forward in certain aspects of life work and culture, but never seem to achieve the cut equally to men across the board or across the culture.

In one of the most socially influential areas, which has a massive reach, is the film world. Women in film are still lagging behind and kept second class to men by the full weight of the big studios and the big players.

To follow, is the story of the film, 'The Stolen', about to hit UK screens, it tells of one woman’s massive challenges behind the scenes to make this happen.

After an eight year struggle to make her beloved script, 'The Stolen' into a film, Emily Corcoran finally managed to achieve her dream.  But like most dreams, the reality of how she arrived there was quite different.

She hoped to write the script, raise the finance, then enjoying the acting whilst taking a background role as producer.

Every step was a challenge, interested investors and distributors preferred a male lead in the genre.

This was a woman’s lead story, with the drama, thrills, emotional dilemma, guns and action alongside.

After two major earthquakes flattened the city of Christchurch and damaged the surrounding area’s where the story was set, the family home badly damaged -unable to greenlight the film, Emily lost investors and the lead actors.

Finally, 5 years on with investors in place and the ‘bankable’ stars secured, Emily found herself with another ‘female’ dilemma, pregnancy.

Emily arrived in London at 17 from New Zealand, to attend the Arts Educational Drama School.  On graduating, and having difficulty securing acting work, she started to write and produce, in fear of always waiting in the wings to be chosen. 

Her first short film, 'The Invitation' starring Sally Phillips and Frances Rufelle was made with sponsorship from Sony and sold internationally to the likes of Sky Movies and Canal +.  She then followed this up sometime later with writing, producing and starring in the low budget comedy feature 'Sisterhood', which won a number of awards and managed to get distribution in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

After years of working ‘survival', side jobs. Which included, waitressing, head hunting, selling advertising, call centres and night time shifts on a quiz show - she built up her acting resume, with her writing and producing resumes building up beside her. Eventually her persistence and talent as a producer paid off and she was being hired regularly to work with first time directors.

After 'Sisterhood', Emily wanted to make something substantial and wrote the first draft of 'The Stolen', set at the time of the gold rush in 1860's New Zealand and including stunts, animals, children, period costumes and a female lead - she knew it was going to take bankable names and a great director to convince investors to come on board.

Managing along the way to keep her director, Niall Johnson, on board, and after bringing together a complicated patchwork of funding from the UK, Germany and New Zealand, in 2015 Emily had the money back in place and two fantastic lead actors. Alice Eve and Jack Davenport and other well known Brits such as 'Rocky Horror' creator Richard O'Brien and 'Outlander' star Graham McTavish.

When her daughter was five months old, Emily was fitting in her calls and emails around the baby's naps and breastfeeding, without the salary for a nanny, there was no choice - and with four different time zones (UK, USA, Germany and New Zealand,) it made sleep a rare commodity.

Just as the shoot was confirmed and tickets booked to go to New Zealand, another disaster struck, a close young family friend died in London in a tragic accident.  This coupled with the recent loss of her father-in-law put a great emotional strain on Emily's family unit, and gave the film perspective.

But on arrival in New Zealand, Emily's biggest challenges were to come.  With the time zone being against her, she was often up till 2am on the phone to lawyers, agents and financiers in Europe, in between getting up to her daughter up to three times a night.

During the shoot, Emily continued this regime with the added element of early morning pick-ups (sometimes at 4:30am) to take her to set to be put into various corsetry.  But the acting was Emily's escape and her joy, and for her, the most important role on the movie, although her attempt to get rid of the bags under her eyes (due to averaging 4 hours sleep a night for 5 weeks) were thwarted when a local facial acupuncturist gave her a black eye! 

Finally the difficult shoot was over, with a late financial closing, some problematic employees, overspend, strain on her family - Emily was relieved.  This was short lived however, when she found out the overspend was such that she, the other producers (including her Mother, Merryn) would not be paid.

Thrown for six, and broke, Emily, her husband Marc and daughter went back to the UK.  There, Emily regrouped and went into emergency mode - juggling the post production budget and finding the best deals she could - Emily found a way to pay the remaining debts and get the film finished.

With failure not an option, she recovered from this setback and managed to close theatrical deals in the UK, New Zealand and selling the movie in the USA, China, Taiwan, Australia, Scandinavia, Middle East, Latin America, Spain and Benelux to date.

Emily's daughter is now 2 years old, she has been half way around the world twice and involved in a number of multi-million dollar phone calls, played on the floor whilst her mum negotiated distribution deals, often with her mother applying teething gel to her gums at the same time. The Stolen is in ‘the can’ as they say in Hollywood and the next step is for the public to enjoy it.

Ironically the massive challenges and Emily’s struggle to make this film a reality has similar parallels to the script.

Her big wish is that audience’s embrace this rugged intense story written and produced by a woman. A story with all the commercial action that a general audience enjoy, with a woman in the lead. Set in raw, rural New Zealand the heroine who under immense pressure, never gives up till she has achieved her goal.

The World Premiere is on November 2nd the Odeon Covent Garden at 7pm. 

View the trailer, find out which UK cinemas are screening the film, and book your tickets at:  The Stolen Movie Website

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