Shana Feste, left, with 'Endless Love' star Gabriella Wilde
When Shana Feste found out she was pregnant while directing Universal's remake of Endless Love, she was understandably nervous to call the powers that be at the studio.
"I thought, 'OK, this is where I'm fired,'" she revealed in a recent phone interview.
Luckily, that didn't happen—and Feste even took her son, Waylon, into the editing room with her six days after he was born. "He was the youngest crew member," she says of her now-6-month-old.
Feste talks to us about remaking the teen love story (which stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde, and hits theaters February 14), what it was like to direct while pregnant and her advice for working moms.
What inspired the remake of Endless Love?
It was brought to me as a script from [Gossip Girl producer-writer] Joshua Safran. I was just really inspired by making a straightforward, traditional love story that didn’t have any gimmicks and crazy special effects or anything blowing up or vampires or any of those crazy things.
This one’s a little different from the more ominous Brooke Shields version from 1981. What inspired the changes?
I knew it was going to be released on Valentine’s Day, and it was really important to me to make a movie about love prevailing. The theme of the movie for me is "be brave and put love first." And it’s scary in today’s day to put love first, because there are so many other things to put first: your career, your computer, your iPhone, just a hundred other things.
How do you think teens have changed since 1981?
The thing that scares me is that I see a lot of young girls thinking, “In order to be a feminist, you have to be so focused on your career, and you have to be so focused on grades and school and all of that. And if you’re focused on relationships, that’s not something a feminist would do." And so you see young girls putting love second or [thinking] that they’re not a strong female if they fight for love or make love important in their life.
And I think that would be really sad, because I’ve had a career and not had love, and it’s not 100 percent fulfilling.
It was pretty amazing, because as soon as I got pregnant, I was just dreading telling the studio and my agent. And I thought, “OK, this is where I’m fired.” And even my lawyer said, “OK, prepare yourself because they’re not going to fire you for being pregnant, but maybe they’ll find a creative reason to let you go.” I think it does happen more than we’d like it to happen, but I made the phone call and told the studio that I was pregnant, and I was met with congratulations. Even [Universal Studios chairman] Donna [Langley] called me and said, "We’re so thrilled for you. Of course this is going to work. Just make sure you take care of yourself."
Do you have any tips or advice for working moms or pregnant working moms?
I went back into the editing room at six days and brought my baby with me. I just feel like there should be no judgment. You just do what’s right for you. If you feel like you can’t work and you just want to be a mom, that’s awesome. If you feel like you have to get back into the office to be your happiest self, then that’s awesome, too. I just feel like we’re so incredibly hard on ourselves.
I continued to breast-feed even though I was having so many problems breast-feeding. I thought, "I just have to stick it out because that’s what a good mother would do." And I think we just need to be easier on ourselves and not judge ourselves so harshly when it comes to being a mom. And it’s really hard to do because I’m constantly judging myself.
Will you take Waylon with you on other film projects?
Sure. He’ll be by my side the whole time. He was awesome. The whole cast just came into my hotel room to meet him for the first time because they felt like they knew him. I was pregnant the whole time, and they were talking to him. He heard all their voices my entire pregnancy. I was so scared that he would think Alex Pettyfer was his dad because he heard Alex’s voice more than he heard my husband’s.
Which mom do you look up to in the film industry?
I used to be a nanny, and my first job, I was working for [The Great Gatsby producer] Lucy Fisher. She has three little girls. They’re not little anymore. They’re beautiful women now. And when I was working for her, it was my first example of being able to be a really wonderful mom and be incredibly successful at the same time. She worked four days a week—she took Fridays off—and I thought, “Does that really happen? Can she be as powerful and successful as she is and just say, ‘I’m taking every Friday off’?" And she did it. She spent every Friday with her girls, and I think that example so early on—I think I was 21 when I was working for her—really inspired me to say, “OK, maybe there is a way for me to have everything that I want in this world.”