If 2016 is your year for a big, life-changing career move and you're looking for some inspiration, consider Meg LeFauve. LeFauve was a screenwriter on not one but two films nominated for the coming Golden Globe Awards – and they're up against each other in the same category. Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, both Pixar films, are nominated for best animated film. LeFauve co-wrote both screenplays. And now she is making the move to the big-budget, high-profile, live-action superhero world, co-writing the screenplay for Captain Marvel.
But it took a huge leap of faith – turning her life, well, inside out – to get there.
"I often think 'What if I had given up?'" says LeFauve during a recent interview. "It would have been very easy to give up."
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LeFauve, who is from Ohio, was making a mark in Hollywood as a producer and as president of Jodie Foster's production company, Egg Pictures, where she worked for a decade. (Credits include The Baby Dance and The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.) But LeFauve had some other ideas about what to do with her career – and life – and when she was about 36 or 37 (she's bad with dates), she went for it.
"I was coming to the point in my life when I realized I always wanted to be a writer, and if I don't do it now, I don't know if I ever will do it. And I don't want to be 80 and wonder what if? What could I have accomplished? What could I have given to the world if I was a writer?" says LeFauve, who lives in Los Angeles but was at the Whistler Film Festival in December as one of Variety's 10 Screenwriters to Watch. "So I did this crazy thing – everybody thought I was insane – and I jumped off the cliff and told Jodie I was going to be a writer."
Foster was "incredibly supportive," LeFauve says – and while LeFauve had learned a lot about storytelling and filmmaking from the Hollywood veteran, she was essentially learning a new craft when she set out to be a screenwriter. LeFauve says a trip to Hedgebrook, a women's writing retreat on Whidbey Island off Seattle, was life-changing and was essential in the transition, as was attending a Sundance Institute's Screenwriters Lab.
"I could develop or give notes at a very high level, having been trained by Jodie and worked with Jodie, but that doesn't mean that I can write at that level. It's a different part of your brain and you have to go back and be a beginner just like everybody else."
LeFauve wrote three scripts she says nobody will ever see, learning as she went to find her voice.
"During that entire period that you don't see any [IMDb credits], I'm writing, I'm doing the work that every artist has to go through to learn their craft and who they are."
Early on during that process – she made this transition more than a decade ago – LeFauve was invited to Pixar and considered for a different project. She didn't get the job, but she did get a tour of the place – and something to shoot for.
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"They took me to the 'Brain Trust' room," she recalls. "And they told me what happens there and I said, 'So you mean if I was a writer here, I would have my script and my work, I would get notes from [Pixar chief creative officer] John Lasseter [and other Pixar creative heads]?' She said yeah. And I could not think of anything more frightening and more exciting at the same time. And I really just said it: I've got to get in this room. I have to get in this room. And it was years before I got in the room. So I just set it as this beacon out on the water far, far away. And now I'm setting a new beacon."
Lefauve now has a female superhero in her sights. LeFauve has been tapped to co-write Captain Marvel (in addition to a number of other projects at various stages of development). She is teamed up with Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote Guardians of the Galaxy.
"We are just starting. We are doing research and [having] conversations and really finding the characters, so we're just beginning," LeFauve says.
When asked if the project will be approached or perceived differently because it's being written by two women, LeFauve says, "There might be a little bit more pressure on us. But I hope not. I hope that still the bar will remain: What's the best story? That's our goal. It's still: What's the best story?"
The Golden Globe Awards will be held Jan. 10.