Lena Dunham is unabashedly bold about her position in the world. She provides a straightforward example of how it's done in "Tiny Furniture": you have a friend with an art-dealing father who cannot say no and puts up your horrible, stupid video in his gallery.
In the sixth episode of "Girls" Ms. Dunham throws hapless Hannah Horvath's mask away (who cares about the inconsistent characterization?), fixes a bewildered look on a Michigan girl with a plan to go to Hollywood, and asks if this person has connections, people who can arrange auditions, ways to get in. Because in Ms. Dunham's mind, the only people who have rights to be in the entertainment world are people like her, the ones supported by a network of contacts.
And why would she think differently? Life comes with very specific benefits when your mother's photos are displayed at the Met, the MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney, among other places. Did Laurie Simmons ventured into making a musical short starring Meryl Streep in 2006 for the pure purpose of getting her foot into the filmmaking business? The same year she produces Lena's first short "Dealing," which somehow gets accepted at Slamdance, while thousands of much stronger films from all around the world are rejected.
Three years later Lena graduates from college and now it's time for things to start really happening. I can just picture Ms. Simmons telling the curators at Guggenheim, "Did you see my daughter's web series Delusional Downtown Divas'? It's all about the art phonies! It's hilarious!" And before you know it, Lena is commissioned by the museum to produce another 10 episodes of tedious sketches, set in a plethora of Tribeca wealth, to be projected at the first annual Art Awards. She is also invited to host the event. Isn't it awesome to have that on your bio and resume?
Still, I don't understand how "Creative Nonfiction" got accepted at 2009 SXSW. I've seen much better movies with real stories and characters, written, directed, and shot by young aspiring filmmakers, who sent their work in and got "sorry, you were rejected" emails. Then again, it's very possible that Lena Dunham's first feature got sent directly to Janet Pierson (head of the festival). After all, when written in four days "Tiny Furniture" was finished, the writer/director/star managed to get a post-deadline waiver, enter in January 2010 and win 2010 SXSW Best Narrative Feature Award in early March.
Here is a challenge for my readers: how many independent film festival's winners get to have multiple gala-premiers in places such as Brooklyn Academy of Music and MoMa? I found only one - the one that stars a famous artist, "Tiny Furniture."
And then, of course, there are publicists (check out ID Public Relations). For all we know, Lena has been their client since nursery school (both Dunham and Jemima Kirke were featured in Vogue as preteens). Let me explain for the uninitiated. If you can afford to pay steep PR fees, publicists will be the ones responsible for putting together smart websites for all your opuses, writing press releases and bios, contacting publications, etc.
They will get you on 25 Independent Filmmakers list (Ms. Dunham was featured in 2009, right after "Creative Nonfiction"). They will make sure you are featured on one or another talk show. Through their personal connections (again!) with writers and editors, they will get you a NY Times profile (03/19/2010) and a movie review (11/11/2010) after your big win at SXSW. No publicist? You are shit outta luck. Robbie Pickering won the Best Narrative Feature this year. The Gray Lady completely ignored his existence.
It just a fact of my life that I came to know someone who worked in the entertainment PR and explained this to me, but for those who want a second opinion I recommend to watch "Nurse Jackie," episode 2.3.
We may never know how exactly the mechanics of personal connections worked for Lena Dunham, but we do know for a fact that thirty-something Jenni Konner, who's been working on various TV projects since 2001 and now happily serves as an executive producer on "Girls," was outfitted with a box of "Tiny Furniture" DVDs she pushed into hands of every single person she knew in Hollywood, including her "Undeclared" boss Judd Apatow.
The uber-successful Hollywood tsar of awkward comedy seems to be on a mission to show the world that life sucks for everyone, but everything going to be Ok at the end. A privileged girl having an unhappy moment in a huge Tribeca loft - how could he possibly resist? Keep in mind, the man does have two pre-teen daughters, whose acting "talents" he promotes in his own movies. He simply had to offer Lena Dunham millions of dollars to plow her shallow-themed field on television.