From FlyGirls Creator/Director/Producer Matia Karrell:
My interest in FlyGirls began when I discovered a photograph of my mother dressed in military uniform. It turns out she was part of the Massachusetts Women's Defense Corps, a group of women who volunteered as plane spotters during World War II. My search to learn about these women became a twenty-five year journey to uncover more about women in the military. That is when I discovered a group of women that I never knew existed--women who weren’t watching for planes, they were flying them. United by their passion for flying, these women emerged from the turbulence of a changing America to answer their country’s call to “Free a Man to Fight.” They were the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP), and they accomplished something that had never been done before – ever.
If you did not know that over 1,000 American female pilots flew every type of plane for the Army Air Corps during WWII, then you’re not alone. I knew about Rosie the Riveter and Amelia Earhart, but I had never heard of the WASP before – not in history books and not in any war movie or television show. Yet, the images alone stand as testament that these women were confident, strong, determined, and yes, sexy in a Tarantino woman-warrior kind of way. How is it possible that the stories of these women’s bravery, courage and sacrifice, are not part of our heritage and culture?
FlyGirls will be one of the first television series to solely focus on America’s first female military pilots. It is, in the strictest sense, a World War II story set in the 1940’s era with which we are all familiar. But FlyGirls is much more than a sepia-toned war drama; it’s the true story of an extraordinary group of women swept up in the complex social and political changes of the 20th century; it’s the story of an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and the women who wanted to be a part of it. At a time when most women could only imagine becoming a hairdresser, a teacher, or a waitress, these women pilots were driven by the need for a bigger purpose. They dared to become more, and the sky provided boundless space for their dreams to take flight.
The power of storytelling can be seen in some of the most memorable films and miniseries of the last 15 years: Band of Brothers (2001), Flags of our Fathers (2006), Red Tails (2012), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), and American Sniper (2014). What they have in common is memorable characters who are courageous and strong, flawed and scared. Narrative storytelling can humanize a time in history, making that era come alive for audiences. It is by experiencing the characters’ lives through their eyes that makes us cry, laugh, or even scream back at the screen. This is palpable storytelling. This is what I want for FlyGirls.
Matia Anne Karrell - Creator/Director/Producer
Matia Karrell directed and co-wrote the 1989 Academy Award Nominated live-action short film, Cadillac Dreams. In 2001, she directed and co-wrote her first feature length film, Behind the Red Door on location in Newfoundland. In 2003, Behind the Red Door premiered on Showtime Network, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Kyra Sedgwick, and Stockard Channing. The film took first prize for Feature Film Screenplay at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and was a finalist in the 2004 PEN Center USA Literary Awards. Karrell is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Paris to research Master Music teacher Nadia Boulanger. She was awarded the prestigious John Wells Directing Fellowship and The Disney/ABC Directing Fellowship. Her television credits are The West Wing and Army Wives. As a First Assistant Director, Karrell has worked with filmmakers such as John Sayles, Sam Shepard and Spike Lee and Cinematographers Haskell Wexler, Robert Richardson and Robert Elswit. Karrell studied Modern Dance and Choreography in Cambridge, MA. She performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for avant-garde artist Robert Wilson. Links: IMDB / Wikipedia / Demo Reel
Lillah McCarthy - Executive Producer
Lillah McCarthy joins FlyGirls after heading up television for Allison Shearmur Productions where she worked closely with Lionsgate Television to develop series for premium cable. Just prior, Lillah was Senior Vice President of Original Programming at TNT/TBS where she was responsible for overseeing the development of all original series on both networks from 2003 - 2015. Some of her successes include: TNT's Emmy®-Award winning The Closer starring Kyra Sedgwick; the Peabody Award-winning Men of a Certain Age; and acclaimed hits Rizzoli & Isles, The Last Ship, Falling Skies, and Saving Grace starring Holly Hunter. McCarthy's extensive career also includes Senior Vice President of Programming at FBC, where she was involved in the development of such hits as The Simpsons, Married... with Children, and Get a Life, executive producer of CBS's Early Edition starring Kyle Chandler, studio executive director, and actor. Link: IMDB
Hilary Prentice - Producer
Hilary Prentice produced writer/director Jim MacDonald’s first film, Heavy Lifting in 2010, which garnered multiple awards across the festival circuit, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Prentice also assisted the producer of Go, and has produced several web series, including Janeslist and Subliminal Minds. In addition to narratives, Prentice has produced documentary videos for non-profit organizations including The Los Angeles Beautification Team and The Institute for Neuro Innovation. Prentice began acting professionally in New York in 2001, where she co-produced New York City’s first three week film, theatre, and music festival, The Fall Collection. A graduate of Dartmouth College with honors, Prentice received the Dickey Fellowship to study theatre in London as well as the Department of History's prestigious Louis Morton History prize. Prentice also co-founded Dartmouth's first student-run television station and her short film, Sisters, was accepted into the All-Ivy film festival. Link: IMDB
Jessica Clackum - Director of Social Media & Veterans Liaison
Jess Clackum's writing, networking and communication savvy are a driving force behind FlyGirls. She is also a contributing writer for Splice Today and Heat Street. Her blog, Release the Clackum, runs the gamut of insightful and entertaining topics. She is the author of Letters from Arthur, which features historical perspectives alongside the transcribed war letters of her great uncle who served in the Pacific in WWII. Projects in development include a play based on Arthur's letters and two books. In addition to writing, she promotes independent film & television projects. A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, Clackum studied History and Mass Communication at the University of Florida. She is a member of Veterans in Film & Television (VFTLA) and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Robert Elswit - Cinematographer
Robert Elswit is an Academy Award-winning Cinematographer. His films include There Will Be Blood (2007), Nightcrawler (2014), and Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015). Elswit previously worked with Karrell on her first Academy Award Nominated short film, Cadillac Dreams and her first feature, Behind the Red Door. FlyGirls will be their third collaboration. Link: IMDB