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'Batman V Superman' Female Producer Working To Get More Women Behind Camera


Fans of the caped crusader and the man of steel will finally have a chance this weekend to see their heroes fight each other.


JESSE EISENBERG: (As Lex Luthor) Black and blue, fight night, the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world.

MONTAGNE: If you hadn't noticed, "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice" opens today. It was produced by Deborah Snyder and directed by her husband, Zack. Together, that dynamic duo is working on a whole slate of movies based on DC Comics. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this profile.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Not surprisingly, the new superhero movie packs a punch.

DEBORAH SNYDER: For the first time, we get to see Batman and Superman together and fight, which is kind of cool. And who will win?

DEL BARCO: Producer Debbie Snyder sits in her low-key office on the bustling Warner Bros. Studio lot. Superhero figurines and framed photos of her eight children decorate the space. Snyder looks to be settling in here at Warner Bros. for a while.

She's working on a movie out later this summer about a group of super villains called "Suicide Squad." And then there's "The Justice League," "The Flash," "Aquaman" and her favorite, "Wonder Woman."

That's a lot of superheroes.

SNYDER: That's a lot of superheroes.

DEL BARCO: Snyder and her husband, Zack, have worked on such films as "Watchmen" and "300." They have their own production company, Cruel and Unusual Films. Snyder says she's a hands-on producer. She keeps films shoots on schedule and on budget. She negotiates deals, handles actors, checks hair and makeup, and she works on the marketing campaigns.

SNYDER: I love figuring out what the posters are and what the ads are and working with our promotional partners and shaping what their campaigns are.

DEL BARCO: These are skills she says she first honed working in advertising in New York.

SNYDER: It was a great training ground, and that's where my husband and I met because I hired him to do a Soft & Dri deodorant commercial. You got to meet a lot of people. You had to deal with politics, and it was a really fast-moving, so you were always, like, you know, you had to think on your feet.

DEL BARCO: Snyder says she finds herself one of the rare female producers working in action and comic book film genres.

SNYDER: You know, I've always been in a boys club. I mean, even starting in, you know, Madison Avenue advertising agency, it was really - I worked on a beer account and Texaco - you know, Havoline oil. And it was predominately male, as is Hollywood, but I think that things are changing.

DEL BARCO: Debbie and Zack Snyder have been hiring women as writers, costumes designers, even a stunt coordinator. She began an initiative with DC Comics to hire and mentor even more women.

SNYDER: It's easier to look on screen, right, to see, oh, there's an absence of great roles for women. OK, we need to make a change. But I've been striving to figure out ways to try and get more women behind the camera.

MADELINE DI NONNO: It's very encouraging, and we need a ton more executives like Deb.

DEL BARCO: Madeline Di Nonno is CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The project reports that only 20 percent of feature film producers are women.

DI NONNO: So to have Deb in the position that she is in with power to greenlight, power to oversee the projects, it's very, very important.

DEL BARCO: Growing up in New Jersey, Snyder says she didn't really read comic books, but she did watch superheroes on TV, especially one particular feminist icon celebrating her 75th anniversary this year.

SNYDER: (Singing) Wonder Woman (laughter).

DEL BARCO: For next year's "Wonder Woman" movie, Snyder hired Patty Jenkins to direct and actress Gal Gadot plays the title role.

SNYDER: The first time we had her on set, I actually got teared up realizing what an impact and what a role model that she could be. You can be beautiful and sexy and still be intelligent and strong. Women should be allowed to be all those things.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Wonder Woman.

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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