July 7, 2016

Meera Menon Debuts Equity

The recent SCA grad returns to campus with her second feature

By Mallory Arkin

Director and SCA alum Meera Menon, MFA Production ’12, will screen her second feature, Equity, in The Ray Stark Family Theatre on July 12th, ahead of the film’s nationwide release.

Equity debuted at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and sold to Sony before it was even screened. Dubbed the first “female Wall Street movie,” Equity explores how minorities “navigate issues around power and influence, two things which have historically been denied to them,” Menon says.

Film festivals have been good to Menon. Her first project, Farah Goes Bang, won the inaugural Nora Ephron Award at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. Menon began working on that script with her friend from undergrad, writer Laura Goode, on and off throughout her entire time at USC. Menon knew that she wanted to shoot it the year that she graduated, 2012, since the film is set on a political campaign trail. The film tells the story of twenty-something Farah Mahtab who vows to lose her virginity while campaigning for 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry. “We thought it would be fun to make it in an election year,” Menon says, “to create energy and conversation around the film.”

After graduation, Menon banded together with four other SCA peers and purchased a Red Scarlet camera package, which they all “co-owned under the idea that we would be able to use it like a time share,” Menon says. The system would “allow all of us to continue to make content even after we graduated.” They shot Farah Goes Bang using the Red.

Of course, there’s more to making a film than just having the equipment. For all else, Menon turned to other classmates as crew, including her now-husband, cinematographer Paul Gleason. “We wouldn’t have been able to make the film if a bunch of people that I had gone to film school with hadn’t been willing to wear multiple hats to help us make the film happen. Many people on the crew were SCA people who knew how to perform more than one role on a film set,” she says.

Much like the characters she wrote, Menon also had to campaign; but in her case, it was to get the film funded. She used Kickstarter to crowd source funding, which she says was “as much as, if not more, of an endeavor and achievement than making the actual film.”

Menon’s path to Equity was more conventional as she was hired for the directing job by Broad Street Pictures, a company that focuses on films with strong female leads. She continues to read and write scripts, and work on creating her own opportunities. “I just want to be a working director,” she says.

RSVP for SCA’s screening of Equity at: http://cinema.usc.edu/Equity

Equity will be released on July 29th. Farah Goes Bang can be seen on Amazon and iTunes.