NEW YORK — There was a time when indie film producer Dolly Hall wanted to be an actress. After earning a degree in theater from the University of North Carolina, she returned home to New York, continued her acting studies, founded an Off Off Broadway repertory company and made the rounds of auditions. “But,” she says, “I had an epiphany that I am a control freak. And working as an actor, it was just too frustrating to have no control over my life, to have somebody else making the decisions.”
Born to produce
Hall found an outlet for both her creative and her controlling instincts, however, almost from the moment she walked on her first movie set. “I immediately took to producing,” Hall remembers. “I ‘got it’ right away. And four years after starting out in the film business, I was a producer.”
Since that first producing effort, 1991’s “Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole,” Hall consistently has demonstrated she has an eye for new talent as well as the bottom line. Her best-known production, Maria Maggenti’s debut film “The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love,” was made for $60,000, and went on to reap critical acclaim and $2 million at the box office.
Hall says her familiarity with the entire filmmaking process, from first draft to final cut (“I’m a soup-to-nuts producer,” she laughs), plus her solid relationships with investors and distributors provide the kind of support that first-time writer-directors need in order to be successful. “I bring an enormous amount of very solid production experience, as well as the ability to put on the little black dress and head uptown and raise the money to make the film,” Hall says. “I’m behind the writer-director 150% and that, combined with the ability I have to raise money, makes me the producer I am.”
This year is turning out to be a banner one for Hall and her company, Dollface Inc. Director Alex Sichel’s first feature, “All Over Me,” opened to good notices in April; “johns,” which Hall executive produced, opened in February; and Castle Hill plans to release “Eye of God,” which Hall co-produced, later this fall.
Meanwhile, Hall is hard at work on three projects, each written and directed by first-time feature filmmakers. She and co-producers Susan Stover and Jeff Levy-Hinte are shooting Lisa Cholodenko’s “High Art,” an edgy drama set in the world of art photography. Hall’s in pre-production with co-producer Alex Corven on leading commercial director Frank Todaro’s first feature, a comedy called “Above Freezing.” She also hopes to start pre-production soon on “54,” about famed Manhattan disco Studio 54, which she is co-producing with Ira Deutchman of Redeemable Features for Miramax.
“I think working with first-time directors is magical,” Hall says. “Through them, I get to revisit that feeling of making a movie for the first time. I see the wonderment in their eyes, and their sheer joy in filmmaking. And it’s magic for me, too.”