Seal Press editorial director Morris sheds her stuffy old life to become a television producer, criss-crossing the continents in search of intrepid women.
Working at a feminist publisher had been a fine job, but Morris (A Different Angle, 1995, etc.) was ready for a change when she decided to go into business with her mother and create a TV series about inspiring women around the world. Mother and daughter dug deep into their own pockets to fund their pilot, a video shot in Cuba. With footage of female teenage rappers, a filmmaker and a poet all working in the shadow of Castro, they created something that caught the eye of PBS producers, and the diva series was off and running. Morris gives a first-person account of starting the business, directing the shoots and moonlighting as a TV host for another adventure series that was focused on the remote and the strange rather than the female and empowered. In her accounts of India, New Zealand, the Matterhorn, Iran, Borneo and the Sahara, she relates the director’s anxiety about interviews, the producers’ concerns over funding and the writer’s fascination with her material. Morris shows an admirable fearlessness when it comes to chasing down the money shot, whether it’s a pig hunt in Borneo or a “ram cam” to capture a sheep’s-eye view in a charging herd. She also isn’t afraid to discuss menstruation or pen a phrase such as, “Poets are the ones who torch up an eight ball of life’s giant je ne sais quoi and distill it down to a pot of sweet nectar.” This combination of eagerness and earnestness, unfortunately, sometimes distracts from the genuinely interesting subject matter.
Occasional self-conscious pontifications on the big questions are forgivable in light of the author's genuine enthusiasm for her broad but appealing topic.