October 28, 2016

This week, the New York Film Academy welcomed actress and director Rose McGowan to its theater at 17 Battery Place in lower Manhattan.

After literally being discovered on a street corner, McGowan made her film debut in the 1992 Pauly Shore comedy “Encino Man,” where she played a small role. Her performance as Amy Blue in the 1995 dark comedy film “The Doom Generation” brought her wider attention, and received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. McGowan then appeared in the 1996 hit horror film “Scream” and starred alongside Ben Affleck in the 1997 coming-of-age feature “Going All the Way.”

Later, she appeared in several Hollywood films, including “Devil in the Flesh” (1998), “Jawbreaker” (1999), “Ready to Rumble” (2000), “Monkeybone” (2001) and “The Black Dahlia” (2006). In 2005, McGowan played Ann-Margret alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Elvis Presley in the CBS miniseries “Elvis.” In 2007, she starred in “Planet Terror,” part of the double-feature film directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, “Grindhouse.” The following year, she starred in the crime thriller film, “Fifty Dead Men Walking.”

Given her lifelong fondness for classic cinema and realizing that her true passion lies in filmmaking, McGowan decided to break into directing despite the odds against her. “There were no directors that looked like me,” said McGowan. “The gypsy experience of [directing film] was appealing to me.”

Her directorial debut short, “Dawn,” is a troubling tale of a young girl’s budding sexuality and one’s desire to experience the unknown.

McGowan says the film was partially inspired by the classic Robert Mitchum film, “The Night of the Hunter” while some of the aesthetics of her 1950’s period piece was influenced by the original 1960’s Disney film, “The Parent Trap.”

“A lot of filmmaking is to make the least amount of mistakes as possible,” said McGowan. “A painter gives thought to each stroke, so why not you.”

McGowan stressed the importance of actors and filmmakers to know and be confident in their worth.

“I definitely gained a sense of confidence as a director,” she said. “I learned I was wearing the pants that fit me for the first time.”

She warned young actors venturing into the field to be wary of being controlled by those in higher positions and encouraged those who are oppressed to speak out.

She’s also incredibly devoted to empowering women in film and television, stressing the overall gender inequality in the field.

McGowan has many projects in the works, including a feature and a pilot for Amazon Studios.