Cathy Schulman, Academy Award-Winning Producer

In this episode, Cathy Schulman opens up about her personal journey, sharing how her own experiences of sexism, harassment, and bullying ignited a deep passion for change. What began as a quest for self-rescue soon transformed into a mission to create a better future for women in the entertainment space. Schulman’s commitment to inclusivity and diverse narratives stems from a profound belief that storytelling holds the key to fostering understanding and bridging divides. Through her involvement in Women in Film and the establishment of her organization, ReFrame, she has emerged as a true champion for gender equality, inspiring others to challenge the status quo and rewrite the narrative, creating a future where every woman’s voice is heard and valued.

Through her work on projects like the Academy Award-winning Crash and her experiences working on projects such as The Illusionist, Five Feet Apart, Bad Moms, The Woman King, Showtime’s The First Lady, and her new film The Idea of You starring Anne Hathaway, Cathy touches on audience research in the filmmaking process and the importance of audience satisfaction.

A commitment to diversity and representation

Cathy Schulman discusses her advocacy for women in the entertainment industry, which stems from her personal experiences with sexism and harassment. Cathy shares what motivated her to become involved in organizations like Women in Film and ultimately establish her own organization, ReFrame.

I didn’t set out to make a career or an impact as it regarded women, but my early experiences in the business were so completely sexist, and I was so deeply affected by sexism and harassment and bullying that it happened sort of by accident because my own experiences, like the way to get through my experiences was to believe that there was a better way and in order to make there be a better way, I had to be active in my own rescue, which in turn made me excited about being active in a better future for women in the entertainment space.

–Cathy Schulman

Crash and the Academy Awards

Cathy shares what it was like to hear the name of her movie read at the Academy Awards. She talks about her prepared speech for the Oscars, which accidentally ended up being genocide statistics instead. Despite the unexpected turn, she spoke from the heart and thanked her husband and inspirations.


Kevin asks Cathy about her primary inspiration in the film industry and Cathy talks about Barbara Boyle, the first woman to run a Hollywood studio and one of the founders of Women in Film.

Audience research and The Woman King

Cathy and Kevin discuss the audience testing process, and how it improved The Woman King. Cathy shares her view that pace, length, and clarity are the keys to the audience research process and that her primary goal is not to leave the audience bored.

Schulman on audience research:

It seems like the most sort of common reality that we experience through testing is that audiences refuse to be bored, and they should refuse to be bored. I am a huge proponent of that. That is why we’re making this art form. If you want to make a painting or a sculpture or something else, be my guest and let people decide how long they want to stand around it.

Testing her upcoming project, The Idea of You

Cathy talks about her upcoming project, The Idea of You, starring Anne Hathaway. She shares some of the testing insights and changes that made the movie exponentially better.

Schulman on testing The Idea of You:

When we looked at the major trends that happened in the testing process, then we addressed them, and when we took those notes to heart, the movie made exponential increases in terms of its effectiveness for audiences. And we just got to a place where it just got better and better.

Representation and Women in Film

Cathy discusses the organization Women in Film, and the research that she has done to advance representation in the film industry. She focuses on the economics of representation and catering to a diverse audience.

Schulman on the economics of diversity:

Across film, television, and streaming, audiences are over 70% female. And so, it was easy to say to funders and marketers and studios and networks, why would you just make movies and television for the minority? That’s insane. That’s like putting bras in a men’s shop. Like, what’s the point?

Tune in to hear Cathy and Kevin discuss the importance of listening to the audience, the challenges of filmmaking, and Cathy’s involvement with Women in Film and ReFrame, her project aimed at creating systemic change in the industry.

Don’t Kill the Messenger, hosted by movie and entertainment research expert Kevin Goetz, brings his book Audienceology to life. This bi-monthly podcast takes a peek behind the filmmaking curtain as Kevin talks with famous filmmakers, studio executives, stars, and other creatives about movies, filmmaking, audience test screenings, and much more.

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