Amy Heckerling was born in The Bronx, New York on May 7, 1954. She is one of few successful female directors in Hollywood. She has directed several box office successful movies such as, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Clueless (1995), and Look Who’s Talking(1989). She has also worked as a writer and producer for films and television. Heckerling received the AFI’s Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal in 1998. In 1995 for Clueless, she received Best Screenplay Award from the National Association of Film Critics and Women in Film. Also earned a Writers Guild of America nomination.
Two of Heckerling’s most box office successes were Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless. Both movies were teen films. ” In the traditional gendered hierarchy of film genres, crime thrillers, biopics, historical dramas and gangster films are more prestigious than teen film, romantic comedy, contemporary melodrama and broad comedy” (Speed). Heckerling got her break as a Hollywood director because she was willing to take on the comedy projects. Even though the characters are funny and cliche, they are more complex and deal with issues. “Beneath their surface frivolity and boisterous humour, the films of Amy Heckerling use comedy to address themes such as gender difference, adolescent sexuality and parenthood” (Speed).
Amy Heckerling is best at comedy films. She knows how much attitude, pop culture and slang to put into the characters. Heckerling said in an interview with Scion Magazine that she likes “silly things. I like musicals. I like comedy. I gravitate towards things that put me in a much happier world”. Her films reflect what she likes which is comedy. Heckerling used her life experiences in her work. Her film Look Who’s Talking was created after she had her own baby. She wrote and directed the film that became a box office success. It also spawned two sequels and a television show.
Heckerling is the auteur in her films. However, like she said in the Scion Magazine interview, the studios would give notes on what can and cannot be done or said in the film. In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Heckerling mixed the studio notes with the actual novel with the scrip to make the movies more to her liking. Heckerling films tend to have a strong female perspective in a genre that usually focuses on the male.
Speed, Lesley. “A World Ruled by Hilarity: Gender and Low Comedy in the Films of Amy Heckerling.” Senses of Cinema RSS. Web. <http://sensesofcinema.com/2002/22/heckerling>.
Scion Magazine Interview: http://youtu.be/YpVW0cW4x98