Bruce Miller on Hiring Women Writers for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | Close Up with THR


(upbeat music) – One of the interesting
conversations that have gone on in recent years is sort of
the who can tell what story. I know that’s obviously one that you’ve thought a tremendous amount about. – The who the hell do you
think you are question? – Yeah but how much of that
was self-imposed versus what you were sort of facing on the other side of that table, whose blessing did you feel you needed to sort of tell a feminist story? – Well, you know, my situation
was relatively unique because I was writing based on a feminist novel that have had a long
life in people, you know. And so, people had experienced
it as a novel first so it had a certain amount of credibility and also had an alive author
that could bless me in terms of what I was doing with the books. – This is not valid. – It has it stamped. – No, the document is
no longer recognized. You are not married. (child mumbles) – What? – [Agent] It’s forbidden. – Forbidden?
– What does that mean? – [Agent] Forbidden by the law. – What law? – The law. (ominous music) – The biggest hurdle is always the hurdle you put on yourself. I mean, I didn’t wanna
do it if I was gonna… I mean, I love the book
too, I didn’t wanna ruin it. So if someone else, you
know, I really thought I was the best person for
the job and if I thought someone else was, I was 100% for it. But whenever you start a
show, you have weaknesses in any writing venture. And so what you’re just gonna
do is be honest with what all of those weaknesses are and reinforce them with all the other people
you’re working with. And so that was the case, to
say, okay well, you know, first of all, I’m not a woman
so hire not just one woman but a group of women and women who are comfortable sharing
intimate things with you. Not intimate, sexually, but
intimate like how you go through the world and how
you react to things really. And also, you know, you want
someone who’s gonna be able to explain stuff to an idiot, you know and be very patient about it. You want someone who’s
gonna be able to tell you very honestly and know
that you’re not asking for pure interest or just
reasons to pry into their life but you have to know. So you have to have a
group of women but women who are honest, and
stubborn, and good writers, and also know you well
enough to know that when they ask a question you
really want the answer. (upbeat music) It’s one of the most interesting things about diversity is that to have… It’s very different for me to be… When I started my career there was often one woman in the room. My room’s all, basically all women and me. And the thing that you get
is the disagreement because if you have one black person
in the room, that black person is your, you know, speaks
for all black people in the universe. – Black-o-pedia.
– Yeah, yeah, black– – It’s called being
black-o-pedia and black-tionary and I’ve been both of those on many shows.
– Yes. And we have girl-o-pedia. No, that’s exactly right. But, you know, we have discussions like… We had a very long discussion about what it actually feels like to get
your period and how you… Can you tell or not when you
start to bleed without… And all that kind… Very like… And the entire, all they did
was disagree with each other it was zero help for me,
for them they learned a lot about each other.
– ‘Cause everybody has a very different experience. – Yeah, and it’s so funny that you think, okay there’s a
universal answer to that. I just want an answer,
I just need a line here. And they were like, well, you know… (panelists laugh) So, I would say 80% of
the things I thought I would get like, oh this is
the clean, I don’t know it but someone else knows it. What’s it like to walk
through the world in a skin of a different color. It doesn’t help if you just have one person because–
– Oh, absolutely. – [Dan Futterman] Yeah,
just one person’s opinion. – So real diversity actually
is the way to actually use those experiences because
I think when you have this singular voice in
the room, there’s no one to challenge it.
– Right. – It’s much better when there is a debate.
– Absolutely. (upbeat music) – What is the, your most amusing or, perhaps, horrifying pitch story? – I had a pitch… I’m sure there are a
lot of more horrifying and amusing ones that I have. But one that comes to
mind is when I had a pitch that we were gonna do a female
genital mutilation story on Handmaid’s. Which was fine for them
but for me it was– – [Dan] We were gonna do the same thing. (panelists laugh)
– Exactly, yeah. – Are you just sweating?
– I know, it’s like… – What goes into that? – Well you don’t even
know how to word anything. You know, it’s like
you feel like you’re… First of all, I was 100%
sure they were gonna say no. And then, but also just
kind of making them see it without kind of, you know,
dancing around it as much as, you know, my upbringing would allow in order to say it. And then you realize you’re
doing it to Rory Gilmore. You know, it’s even
double-down on horrible. But it was fine for them, they loved it. For me, I still haven’t recovered. I’m turning bright red just
thinking about it, yeah. – I love it, I love it. (upbeat music)

8 thoughts on “Bruce Miller on Hiring Women Writers for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ | Close Up with THR

  1. …Finally, someone who actually cares to ask us about our experiences & isn't afraid to hear the unfiltered truths 👏🏻

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