Meet Maria Burton
“It is vital that all voices are represented in our media content, as film and television tell the stories that reflect and shape our culture.” – Maria Burton
Maria Burton grew up in an artistic family with a writer mother and a musician father. She loved watching old Hollywood movies and always appreciated their cultural influence. Burton especially related to the “strong, smart and funny women played by Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell.” In college she heard about the Sundance Labs, and after much persistence, she was brought on board to work the June Lab and the next 13 years of the festival. Thus began her immersion in the independent film world.
Burton’s first film, JUST FRIENDS was sponsored by Deluxe, Kodak and Panavision and opened to rave reviews from both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Its success led her to form her own production company with her sisters called Five Sisters Productions. Since then, Burton has made several narrative and documentary features, shorts and commercials including A SORT OF HOMECOMING, TEMPS, and the multi-award winning film, MANNA FROM HEAVEN.
“A great little movie it is. Dig this cast… Several Oscar winners and nominees and even a Tony citation are in this amazing group. You’ll be hearing more about the Burtons!” – Liz Smith – NEW YORK POST
However, unlike she imagined, the success of her films did not automatically lead to higher budget projects. While her male counterparts enjoyed greater resources, Burton continued to find herself limited to the lower budget projects she was hired to direct. “At the time I thought it was just a matter of luck, but then I realized that there is a deep unconscious bias in this business that needs to be changed.” Burton is not the only one who feels this divide, as many studies have shown that this actually happens to women across all fields.
A growing recognition of the situation seems to be having a positive effect on the opportunities that are available for women. Burton remains hopeful and emphasizes, “it is vital that all voices are represented in our media content, as film and television tell the stories that reflect and shape our culture.”
“…A much-needed reprieve from the angst, irony and mean-spiritedness that is endemic to modern cinema.” – Natalie Hopkinson – WASHINGTON POST
The solution to the lack of women in film according to Burton is simple. “Just hire more women.” If necessary, Burton feels that mandates should be put into place or a requirement to include more women on the list of candidates and in interviews. As these changes become the norm, data confirms, “hiring more women also creates a stronger and richer environment, both culturally and financially.”
In the meantime, Burton’s advice for up and coming and/or seasoned female artists is to “keep working all you can, focusing on projects you’re passionate about, because that’s how you’ll develop your voice as an artist and develop your craft as a director.” Burton goes on to say that developing relationships with sponsors and mentors can also make a big difference in “opening doors to give you opportunities.”
Coming up in 2017, Burton just finished a project called GOOD EGGS under the ProjectHer program with Rodrigo Garcia as her mentor. She’s also excited about a passion project she’s been working on that was inspired by women who tested to be astronauts in the early 60’s, called MERCURY 13. For more information on her latest and upcoming projects, check out http://mariaburtondirector.com.
“Maria Burton is a director to watch.” – Variety