Nancy Savoca


Director, Screenwriter

About

Birth Place
Bronx, New York, USA
Born
July 23, 1959

Biography

The daughter of Sicilian and Argentine immigrants, writer-director Nancy Savoca graduated from the film school at New York University where she received the Haig P. Manoogian Award for overall excellence for her short films "Renata" and "Bad Timing." Her earliest professional experience came as an assistant auditor on two Jonathan Demme-directed pictures ("Something Wild" 1986, "Married ...

Family & Companions

Richard Guay
Husband
Producer, screenwriter, assistant director. Married c. 1981; father of Savoca's children; met when he was an accounting student working at the neighborhood Italian deli near her home; co-wrote "True Love" (1982), "Household Saints" (1993) and "The 24 Hour Woman" (1999).

Biography

The daughter of Sicilian and Argentine immigrants, writer-director Nancy Savoca graduated from the film school at New York University where she received the Haig P. Manoogian Award for overall excellence for her short films "Renata" and "Bad Timing." Her earliest professional experience came as an assistant auditor on two Jonathan Demme-directed pictures ("Something Wild" 1986, "Married to the Mob" 1988) and as a production assistant to John Sayles ("Brother From Another Planet" 1984). Sayles, in turn, provided funding for her feature directing and co-screenwriting debut, "True Love" (1989), an incisive comedy about Italian-American courtship and marriage rituals in the Bronx. Hailed by both Janet Maslin and Vincent Canby of THE NEW YORK TIMES as one of the best films of the year, "True Love" subsequently was purchased and released by MGM-UA and its accompanying soundtrack on RCA records boasted two Top 40 hits on the BILLBOARD charts. Its success enabled Savoca to make her only Hollywood film to date, "Dogfight" (1991), although she has taken all her projects to the studios first before going the independent route. Filmed for $8 million (eight times the budget of "True Love"), "Dogfight" told the story of a young Vietnam-bound soldier (River Phoenix) and the wallflower waitress (Lili Taylor) whom he takes to a mean-spirited contest for the ugliest date. The film received favorable reviews but a poor box-office reception but further demonstrated the director's flair and facility with actors.

Savoca returned to the compromise world of independents with "Household Saints" (1993), a bittersweet tale of three generations of Italian-American women which received glowing reviews in many quarters and a healthy (if modest) box office. Featuring stellar work from Taylor (as a religious fanatic), Tracey Ullman and Vincent D'Onofrio (as Taylor's mismatched parents) and veteran Judith Malina as D'Onofrio's mother, this adaptation of Francine Prose's novel proved a strong depiction of Italian-Americans in NYC. Like many an indie, the project faced monetary problems; Savoca has said: "I can tell you this: that we could not have made 'Household Saints' for a dollar less than we did. We shaved the budget and shaved the budget and finally we went back to the investors and we said: 'If we make this budget any smaller you're gonna get a movie that's unreleasable.'"

Although she had contributed a short film for the syndicated children's series "The Great Spacecoaster" in the early 80s, Savoca spent her time during her third and fourth features really getting her feet wet in TV, directing a 1995 episode of "Murder One" (ABC) for Steven Bochco and the unsold ABC series pilot "Dark Eyes" (1995), starring Kelly McGillis as a female cop assigned to a special task force. She also directed the "1952" and "1974" segments (and wrote all three) of "If These Walls Could Talk" (1997), HBO's tripartite movie focusing on the issue of reproductive choices. Borrowing from her own experiences as a mother of three, Savoca then tackled the legend of the modern-day superwoman in "The 24 Hour Woman" (1999), revealing with great humanity how everything comes with a price. Starring Rosie Perez as a TV producer whose pregnancy, birth and child-raising become the focus of her quirky talk show, the film rang true to the merciless gauntlet endured by working mothers, and though some found the tone wearying, others appreciated its Darwinian message about motherhood and delighted in its send-up of daytime TV.

Life Events

1984

Worked with husband as volunteer on production of John Sayles' "The Brother From Another Planet"; Sayles would later invest money in her feature directing debut

1985

Shot a nine-minute trailer for "True Love"

1986

Worked as assistant auditor on Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild"

1988

Hired by Demme for "Married to the Mob," this time credited as production auditor assistant

1989

Directed and co-wrote first feature "True Love"

1991

Helmed second film "Dogfight," a period romance starring Lili Taylor and River Phoenix

1993

Reteamed with Lili Taylor for "Household Saints"; co-wrote screenplay and directed

1995

TV directing debut, the ABC special "Dark Eyes"

1995

Helmed an episode of the ABC legal drama "Murder One"

1997

Directed the "1952" and "1974" segments of "If These Walls Could Talk," the HBO movie dealing with women's reproductive rights, which became the then-highest rated original movie in network's history; scripted all three segments

1998

Feted as a "New York trailblazer" at the New York Women's Film Festival

1999

Returned to features as co-writer and director of "The 24 Hour Woman"; film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival

2002

Helmed the comedic documentary "Reno: Rebel Without a Pause"; also executive produced

2003

Directed and co-wrote comedy-drama "Dirt"

2011

Returned to films as director and co-writer of the drama "Union Square"

Family

Carlo Savoca
Father
Born in Sicily, Italy.
Maria Elvira Savoca
Mother
Born in Argentina.
Kenneth Guay
Son
Born in January 1989 while "True Love" was enjoying its Sundance success; named after producer Kenneth Utt (a producing associate of family friend Jonathan Demme).
Bobby Guay
Son
Born c. 1987.

Companions

Richard Guay
Husband
Producer, screenwriter, assistant director. Married c. 1981; father of Savoca's children; met when he was an accounting student working at the neighborhood Italian deli near her home; co-wrote "True Love" (1982), "Household Saints" (1993) and "The 24 Hour Woman" (1999).

Bibliography