Bernie Su, Joanna Sotomura, Brent Bailey, Dayeanne Hutton and James Brent Issacs

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

Juliet McMaster

Ashley Clements and Susie Wampler

Bernie Su and Lynda Hall

Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield

Bernie Su and Lynda Hall

Ellyn Cardon, 2018 Young Filmmakers Contest winner

Bernie Su and Lynda Hall

Ellyn’s mom, Dana, the inspiration for and star of Mrs. Bennet’s Plan

Joanna Sotomura (Emma) and Brent Bailey (Knightley)

The event included a white elephant sale.

Diane Stafford, one of the winners of the basket raffle

The day began with clips from the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, which was filmed on the Sony (then MGM) lot.

Clara Browda and Beverly Johnson, focusing intently on the day's quiz

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell signed copies of her book during the lunch break.

Clara Browda and Beverly Johnson, focusing intently on the day's quiz

Lively audience Q&As followed each presentation.

Clara Browda and Beverly Johnson, focusing intently on the day's quiz

Outgoing JASNA national president Claire Bellanti received an ovation for her years of service.

Clara Browda and Beverly Johnson, focusing intently on the day's quiz

One of the baskets for the raffle drawing

Winter 2018

The Queen Mary

 Jane Austen in Hollywood

December 8, 2018

Sony Pictures Studio, Culver City

Speakers:

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell — Pride and Prejudice and Pelisses
Ashley Clements and Susie Wampler — The Modern Elizabeth Bennet:
A Moderated Q&A with Ashley Clements, star of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield — The Unfilmable Austen: The Case of Northanger Abbey

 

2018 Young Filmmakers Contest — Screening of Mrs. Bennet’s Plan by Ellyn Cardon

 

Highlights

JASNA Southwest’s December 2018 meeting, with the theme “Jane Austen in Hollywood,” was held at Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City. Sony is home to the former MGM studios, where the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice, starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, was filmed. Our venue on the studio lot was the Rita Hayworth Dining Room, a beautiful and historic art deco space. The event sold out in less than 48 hours.

The day began with a few clips from the 1940 film, followed by a talk from fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell (on Pride and Prejudice and Pelisses: Costuming Jane Austen), a moderated Q&A with Ashley Clements (star of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) on The Modern Elizabeth Bennet, and Austen scholars Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield on The Unfilmable Austen: The Case of Northanger Abbey.  

 
Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell’s informative talk covered how fashion is used in Austen adaptations to convey the passage of time, express a character’s transformation, and signal differences in class, age and experience. She also dispelled myths about Austen and fashion, explored the importance of hairstyles for both men and women in the Regency era, and explained some of the challenges of creating historically appropriate costumes for film. In keeping with the meeting’s location, she also provided some fascinating background on the creation of costumes for the 1940 Pride and Prejudice. Download the full story of Pride and Prejudice and Pelisses: Costuming Jane Austen.
 
JASNA Southwest Regional Coordinator Susie Wampler moderated a conversation with Ashley Clements, star of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, on how she first became an Austen fan, the process of translating the book to a vlog/web series and what it was like to represent the iconic character to a new generation. The illuminating discussion, including numerous questions from the audience, covered everything from humorous encounters with fans to modernizing the Lydia/Wickham scandal and much more. Read the full transcript of The Modern Elizabeth Bennet conversation. If you’ve never seen the web series, you can catch up with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries anytime.
 
Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield explored “The Unfilmable Austen: The Case of Northanger Abbey,” focusing on Austen’s interest in capturing modernity and cultural shifts, and the challenges this caused not only for her in revisiting this early work, but also for filmmakers later attempting to adapt the novel.
 
“Austen uses the word modern more often in this book than in any other … and considering this is her shortest novel, the density of usage is even more remarkable,” Greenfield said. “To her, we think this was a book about modernity.” They compared Austen with Janus, the ancient Roman god of transitions, and Northanger Abbey “lives in Austen’s past and future, being both the first novel accepted for publication in 1803, yet also the last to be published.” Read more about the Northanger Abbey talk on the JASNA Southwest website.
 
The day concluded with a screening of JASNA Southwest’s 2018 Young Filmmaker Contest winner, Mrs. Bennet’s Plan, by Brigham Young University senior Ellyn Cardon, and a special thank you to our own Claire Bellanti, who stepped down as JASNA president at the end of 2018.  

Presenters

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell earned her master’s in the history of dress from the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London and her PhD in the history of art from the University of Aberdeen. She has worked as a curator, consultant and educator for museums and universities around the world. She also is the author of Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette and writes about fashion, art and culture for The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic.

 

Ashley Clements is best-known for starring in the Emmy Award-winning Pride and Prejudice adaptation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, for which she also won a Streamy Award for Best Actress. Other series credits include Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party, Inside the Extras Studio, VGHS, BlackBox TV, Muzzled the Musical and, most recently, SONA, a sci-fi series she created and stars in. Her feature film credits include Non-Transferable, August Falls, Call of the Void and the Christmas horror film All the Creatures Were Stirring. Ashley has more theatre credits than fit in a bio, and more teacups than fit in her cupboard. But a few of her regional theater credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well That Ends Well, Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Cyrano de Bergerac. She earned her MFA in Acting from the Old Globe/University of San Diego.

Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield both hold their PhDs from the University of Pennsylvania, and together they edited Jane Austen in Hollywood, the first book about the Austen film phenomenon. Together and separately, they have published many articles on Jane Austen and lectured in the United States, Canada, England and Australia. In spring 2015, they spent several weeks at the Chawton Library as visiting fellows. Troost is chair of the English Department at Washington and Jefferson College and, until this academic year, Greenfield chaired the Humanities Division at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, where he teaches. They are both life members of JASNA and have been married to each other for 36 years.

Ellyn Cardon is a senior undergraduate at Brigham Young University. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in ethnographic filmmaking, which she says is appropriate since this film is practically an ethnography of her life. This film is inspired by her mother, who has four unmarried children of her own and at one point or another has said something to inspire the content of each scene in the film. More importantly, her mother has motivated her to be the kind of person that makes things happen, and to bring concepts from the world of ideas into concrete reality. Cardon adds that the film is designed to remind us that Jane Austen wrote characters who are real and understandable, no matter what century we live in. She says “we all know a Mrs. Bennet, and we love her for who she is.”

Additional Resources

You might also want to take advantage of some special resources relevant to the event.
 
The 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice was filmed on the MGM (now Sony) lot. For some wonderful background and analysis of the film, check out these riveting and informative articles by noted Austen scholar Devoney Looser (The Making of Jane Austen) and Los Angeles Times film critic Ken Turan.
 
Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield’s talk focused on Northanger Abbey and why it’s so difficult to adapt. But you might want to read some of their previous writing about Austen adaptations in their 2008 article in JASNA’s journal Persuasions on “Appropriating Austen: Localism on the Global Scene.” The article has embedded video highlights only visible in the original publication, so you will need to log in to the JASNA member portal to read the article.
 
Devoney Looser wrote another fascinating article, in Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine, on what is probably the first Darcy to appear on film. No, it’s not Laurence Olivier. Nor is it the 1938 London televised version with Andrew Osborn as Mr. Darcy. Helen Jerome’s play (on which the 1940 film was based) was first performed by Colin Keith-Johnston on stage in 1935. The play was filmed in 1936 by an MGM crew to guide future film adaptations.