Interview with Stacey Snider CEO of DreamWorks about Her Take on The Help Movie

August 18, 2011 Comments Off on Interview with Stacey Snider CEO of DreamWorks about Her Take on The Help Movie
Interview with Stacey Snider CEO of DreamWorks about Her Take on The Help Movie

Undoubtedly this movie will move you.
From the first moments you see Aibileen on the screen hugging up Mae Mobley and whispering to her in broken English those endearing words which filter inside a child’s soul and kiss their self-esteem, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” you won’t be able to help yourself from feeling touched by this woman caring for her boss’s baby like she in fact birthed her.

The Help movie, now in theaters nationwide, is just that kind of movie teeming with heartache and hesitant happiness. You know the type, you’re happy because in the end the tell-all treatise was published, but you’re not so happy because Aibileen ends up getting hurt by Hilly. This movie will make you shake your head in dismay, furrow your brows in fury, cheer when the women take charge and cry like a baby watching Aibileen coddle and take gentle care of a kid whose own momma snubs her for not being beauty-pageant pretty.

Viola Davis, who plays Aibileen and the award-winning cast of actresses from  Octavia Spencer, to veteran Cecily Tyson, have been the talk and toast of the town because of their gripping performances. The Help movie has made solid rumblings around the nation so much so, that in its first night out it earned an estimated $5.5 million dollars. and now a week out in theaters it has earn a whopping $45 million so far.

It’s a movie that pulled the heartstrings of Dreamworks co-chairman, and mother of two, Stacey Snider.

“I love this movie and it really reflects I think the values of DreamWorks,” Snider said. “You know, Steven is known for humanist movies, movies that shed some light on the human condition but in a popular way.”

And because of its painful edge, yet inspiring ode to the underdog, Snider took notice and took on this project together with her Dreamworks partner Steven Spielberg. The novel written by Kathryn Stockett morphed from a manuscript, which kept finding its way into File 13 of 60 agents in New York City, into a national New York Times best-selling phenomenon.

In an interview with Snider in Los Angeles during a Disney Dreamworks event and early screening of The Help, Snider says this movie struck a cord with her because it’s a testament to women who are normally not viewed as the SHE-ro.

“It’s an underdog story that Aibileen gets that last word in. You know, when she says “you’re a godless woman” and she walks out, you know, go Aibileen!” said Snider. “It’s really her movie. It starts with her and it ends with her so I think that, you know, those feel like values that mean something to us here so it took on special significance.”

The Help is about the intense relations between privileged white families and their maids. Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, Skeeter (Emma Stone) is a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives — and a Mississippi town — upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Viola Davis did a remarkable job as Aibileen, a woman whose quiet spirit leads a powerful campaign against the mistreatment of dozens of Southern maids who helped white families in the southern town. Octavia Spencer fires up the screen as Minny, a mouthy southern maid who’s not afraid to piss off her boss or just piss where she’s not supposed to.

I have to mention that even though her ignorance raged on-screen and she played the part to perfection, Bryce Dallas Howard did an awesome job playing and conveying a racist socialite whose heart is as hard as her head.

Making this movie was challenging in several ways, Snider says. For one, a movie such as this sometimes can be difficult to produce because people don’t go to the theater to sit and be schooled in a history lesson, admits Snider. Then you have a new director, Tate Taylor, at the helm and “it’s really hard to justify giving the amount of money that it will take to do a good job with this movie to a first time director,” said Snider.

But she did, she said and  in the end Snider and Spielberg took a “leap of faith” and allowed Taylor to direct the movie despite his lack of  experience. “It’s scarier than when you’re working with someone with a track record but everybody’s gotta start somewhere,” she says.

“Tate was kicking around as an actor and a writer and a director and Kathryn was just trying to find herself and after 911 they were roommates, platonic friends, roommates in New York City,” Snider said. She really was distressed obviously by 911 and couldn’t stay in New York.  Didn’t want to stay there, felt very unsafe and Tate said go back to Jackson and go home, maybe you’ll feel better there.  And she did and she didn’t feel any better and she moved back to New York and he said to her well, what would make you feel safe?  Where would you feel safe in the world?  And she said on Demetrius’ lap and Demetrius is like Constantine.

The Help, a book written by Kathryn Stockett became a New York Times bestseller for three years. The screenplay for the movie was written by Tate Taylor who was Stockett’s childhood friend. The two grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, where the book is based and both are the products of single parents who had maids in the home.

Together with Taylor’s talent and Stockett’s book that blazed the bestseller’s list, the screenplay was born.

“It was a perfect story and it had the right blend of heart and pathos and humor and pathos,” Snider said. “It was popular. You know, if it had been any less of a phenomenon it would have been that much more difficult.”

The Help movie is now in theaters. Visit

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