Producer, director, actor Miranda Bailey has had a very big 2019. She just released her feature directorial debut, “Being Frank.” The film stars Jim Gaffigan and Anna Gunn. She also launched CherryPicks, an outlet that provides a home for both established and new critical female voices. The platform went live this past spring, with 200 critics on deck.
Bailey has spent the past 15 years working as a producer-actor-director. She is a champion in the independent film community. In 2012, she took on the role of entrepreneur. That’s when she launched her film distribution company, The Film Arcade. Two years later, she started her production and financing company, Cold Iron Pictures.
Bailey and Rebecca Odes founded CherryPicks in 2018. They launched the initiative after Bailey saw a film made by a woman who had received some reviews that felt condescending. She then stumbled into the realization that most film critics are men. She also wondered how that could be when women make up more than half of the movie-going population.
So, she went on a quest to find female voices who might share more like-minded thoughts. What she found sparked something inside of her.
“Women have been shouting for like 10 years. We need more female stories. We need more females telling stories; whether they’re about females or not. And, we need more women behind the camera. As a producer, it’s always been an obstacle to try and get these movies funded or distributed because we’ve always been told there’s not an audience for it. But, the thing is that people who tell the audience what is worth their money are the critics. And, the critics are all dudes,” Bailey tells The Burn-In.
The Burn-In (TBI): How did you come up with the name?
Miranda Bailey: It kind of just came to me. Theoretically, it means cherry picking the female critical voice out of the universe.
TBI: Ultimately, what kind of impact do you hope CherryPicks makes?
MB: In a perfect world, I would love it if our scores were up next to the Rotten Tomatoes scores so that people can see that women feel a certain way about something. Sometimes they are vastly different and sometimes they’re exactly the same. I think it’s important for girls. I ask my girlfriends what dentist to use, or what lipstick color they’re wearing, just like I ask them about films. This is an online magazine about media, and about what we think about media. I’d like it to grow into music and video games because I think that that’s a place where female critics are underrepresented.
As a filmmaker, I don’t love the whole scoring system. I like reading every review because it’s nuanced. I hope more people will read women’s reviews and I hope, eventually, that more people will hire females to write. I do think that’s happening. I think it’ll really help the female voice, particularly right now with film. I think it’ll really help with being able to see that we’re out there watching movies. And, we’re out there reading the reviews of our fellow sisters.
TBI: What’s next for CherryPicks?
MB: So this is the new design that’s out right now. We’re able to find ways to promote films on the site as well as create cool articles about films from a different viewpoint; like really look at the specific things that affect our audience. And, we have a critic portal that will be opening up shortly. So, we’ll be able to have critics create their own pages on our site, to be able to promote their work wherever they are. Most of these women are freelancers so they’ll work for Washington Post, Us Weekly, or [write] their own blog. This way, they’ll be able to have their photo up, have a bio, have all of their reviews up there, so people can read them and read about them. Hopefully, editors will be able to read their work easily and hire them from there.
TBI: I want to talk about your feature directorial debut, “Being Frank.” What’s been your most significant takeaway from it all?
MB: I’m still working on that [laughs].
TBI: You also wrote and sang a song in the movie. “Piss Off.”
MB: That was a total accident [laughs]. J. Geils Band wanted to charge us something we couldn’t afford, I really wanted that song, and we couldn’t afford it. My producing partner Amanda was like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, Miranda, go write one.’ I had two days, and that was my only option. But, it works out really well and, frankly, it plays way better than the J. Geils Band does. I’m really happy about that. But, I’m not going to become a singer or anything.
TBI: I was going to say, maybe there’s another business venture in here. Like you’re going to start a music label next?
MB: Oh my god, no. Please stop me while I’m ahead [laughs].
You can stay up-to-date with Bailey via Twitter and her other socials.
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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.