Podtalk: Lydia Dean Pilcher, Director of ‘A Call To Spy’

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CHICAGO – When a prominent and influential producer made the transition into solo directing, she sought stories that matched her intuitive and natural passions. Lydia Dean Pilcher chose “A Call to Spy,” a World War II-era drama that focuses on three women who defied their obstacles and became early war heroes.

Ms. Pilcher is an activist for the environment (founder, Producers Guild of America Green), as well as diversity issues and women’s equality through her work as a producer and filmmaker. The script for “A Call to Spy” was written by the eventual lead actress in the film, Sarah Megan Thomas. Ms. Pilcher was drawn to it because of the themes of the women’s contributions to Britain’s World War II efforts, and their courage despite the skepticism of a system run by men.

’A Call to Spy,’ directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher (inset)
Photo credit: IFC Films

The film is based on real events and people in the early days of WWII, focusing on how the British built their spy program. When France falls to the Nazis, Winston Churchill calls upon state intelligence to plant spies to aid the resistance. It is determined that women would be more effective in infiltration, so Virginia Hall (screenwriter Thomas) and expert wireless operator Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Apte) are recruited by the no-nonsense facilitator Vera Atkins (Stana Katic).

Lydia Dean Pilcher has been in the film industry since the 1980s, doing crew and producer work on such films as “After Hours” (1985) and “Longtime Companion” (1989). Throughout her career as a producer, she has worked on notable films such as “Mississippi Marsala” (1991), ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999), “The Namesake” (2006) and “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007). A documentary she produced, “Cutie and the Boxer” (2013), was nominated for an Oscar, and she made her debut as a co-director in 2018 with “Radium Girls.”

In PART ONE of a Podtalk wtih Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, director Lydia Dean Pilcher talks about the background of the film, and the themes that drew her to the project.

In PART TWO, director Pilcher reflects on her activism in creating equality in the film industry and work life during the pandemic.

“A Call to Spy” is opening in select theaters and through Video-On-Demand on October 2nd. Featuring Sarah Megan Thomas, Radhika Apte, Stana Katic and Linus Roache. Written by Sarah Megan Thomas. Directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2020 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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