Big Screen Symposium

Midge Sanford began her film career at New American Cinema, an independent film production company, where she headed the development department. She joined forces with Sarah Pillsbury in 1982 to form Sanford/Pillsbury Productions.

Sanford and Pillsbury are a pioneering team of women producers who succeeded against all odds in a male-dominated industry. They mentored emerging female filmmakers and paved the way for the next wave of women producers in Hollywood.

Sanford/Pillsbury’s first project, DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN (Rosanna Arquette, Madonna), was a groundbreaking film produced, written and directed by women. It put their company on the map and enabled them to make their next film. The provocative RIVER’S EDGE (Dennis Hopper and Keanu Reeves) premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature Film. They followed up with John Sayles’ EIGHT MEN OUT (John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, and David Strathairn), IMMEDIATE FAMILY (Glenn Close, James Woods) and LOVE FIELD (Michelle Pfeiffer, Dennis Haysbert).

Sanford/Pillsbury produced AND THE BAND PLAYED ON for HBO, which won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie.

The company had overall deals with Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks, where they produced HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT (Anne Bancroft, Winona Ryder, Ellen Burstyn, Alfre Woodard), THE LOVE LETTER (Kate Capshaw, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Selleck), and QUID PRO QUO (Vera Farmiga, Nick Stahl). They also produced three movies for television, including THE COUNTERFEIT CONTESSA (Tea Leoni).

Sanford has also produced OPEN WINDOW (Joel Edgerton, Robin Tunney).

She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is on the Academy’s Foreign Film Committee. She served on the advisory boards of the Alliance of Women Directors as well as Project Involve, a film mentorship program for minority filmmakers. Midge was a board member of Film Independent and on its Spirit Awards selection committee. She has been a panelist at film festivals around the world, including Sundance, Toronto, Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, Australia and Puerto Rico.

Midge facilitates women’s support groups at Chrysalis, an organization that helps homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find employment. She also runs a group for formerly homeless women who have been diagnosed with a mental illness at the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

See Midge in the following session:

Producing with Midge Sanford: Doggedly Seeking Story – Saturday 30 September, 3.00pm.