Zoe Cassevetes follows famed father into filmmaking

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As filmmakers go, Zoe Cassavetes bears a famous name: her father, John, helped create the American independent film movement.

Actress Parker Posey (L) poses with director Zoe R. Cassavetes as they arrive as guests for the premiere of the film "Dedication" at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 22, 2007 file photo. As filmmakers go, Cassavetes bears a famous name: her father, John, helped create the American independent film movement. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

And now, like Sophia Coppola, daughter of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, she is about to emerge from the shadows.

Zoe Cassavetes is releasing her debut feature, “Broken English,” in cities across the United States in coming weeks.

But Cassavetes, who turns 37 on Friday, is unfazed about the pitfalls of following her father into directing or the pressure placed on the success of her film, which stars Parker Posey as a New Yorker anxious about life and love.

“I had people warn me about that stuff all the time but it doesn’t stop you,” she said recently after being asked how she and Coppola, now acclaimed for directing her own films, had coped with expectations.

“It just seemed like what fits naturally for me,” she said. “And I am lucky to have a friend like Sophia who I can talk to, but I am OK with it.”

Cassavetes said her father gave her more life lessons than directing tips by the time he died when she was 18 years old.

“I am not a big copycat,” she chuckled in an interview with Reuters. “I did not try to emulate or copy him. I just think naturally the life lessons he gave me I try to install in my work.”

After previously directing commercials and short films, she wrote the script and tailored the character of Posey’s mother especially for her mother, Gina Rowlands, who made 10 films with her husband in the 1970s and early 1980s.

But the family name did not help secure financing for the film, which took three years to fund but was filmed in a few weeks.

Early reviews were modestly positive, with some critics comparing it to the television series “Sex and the City” for similar comedic takes on dating experiences in the Big Apple -- a resemblance Cassavetes said she hated.

“Sex and the City was written by gay men and there are some truthful things. It’s fun, but this is something deeper. It’s about real loneliness and trust issues.”

As for any future reputation as a director independent of her father’s shadow, Cassavetes isn’t hopeful.

“I’m sure it will follow me wherever I go,” she said.