Why it's Important to Talk About Women in Film
Discussing the ways in which women can be better represented in the film industry usually involves breaking down the conversation into numbers. What percentage of directors are women? How were women represented in the top 100 movies of last year? What is the gender pay gap in Hollywood? These numbers are revealing and important, but they also lack a human element that’s compounded by the fact that the media tends to focus on how these numbers affect big stars and the people that actually make up most of the industry. So, here are some female filmmakers on why it’s important to talk about women in film.
Jessica Lopez is a camera/steadicam operator whose resume, among many other things, includes features, commercials, TV like Project Greenlight and Transparent, music videos from acts like Fall out Boy and Will.I.Am, and a number of the MasterClass web series. Her website has a dedicated page titled, “Yes, she can carry it.”
“I find that talking about it raises awareness. Let's people know that it's happening. Most don't know they are being sexist and most aren't concious of the crew that is being hired below the line.
Sadly, I am gendered every set I am on. Whether it's positive or negative people have to always let me know how cool and different it is to see a female steadicam op. They have to tell me their opinion of me. Luckily, I train and enjoy my job so most are impressed that I actually can hold a frame and wear the rig long enough without feeling fatigued.
… Women that are above the line should start being conscious of getting more "qualified" women crew members in the labor departments below the line. We hear all this support for women directors and writers, but they all hire men crews in grip, electric, camera, and sound departments. It's a dream come true to work on Amazon's Transparent, I feel we are spoiled by Director/Creator Jill Soloway. She makes it a point to advocate for all of her cast and crew. Making sure each person fits in with the show and what it represents. Our crew is filled with so many women in all departments, including LGBTQ, and people of color.”
House of June
House of June is an indie art-film house based in Atlanta that focuses heavily on narratives centered around women of color in leading and supporting roles. Amber L.N. Bournett and Ebony Blanding are the founders and directing partners. Their works of have been featured in Shadow and Act, Blavity, The Fader, Creative Loafing, Feminist Wednesday, and Essence among other places.
Amber L.N. Bournett: “I think the answer is an easy one, because we exist. We are both audience and content creators. We have been a part of film since the beginning, although historically and inaccurately presented as just muses on one end of the camera. I'm like, why would you not talk about us? We are very much a part of this industry…”
“When asking established males in the industry to name established female cinematographers in our region there's always a long pause before following with no answer. All the female DP's I know are my age and still establishing their careers, which is badass, but where are our female mentors? How do we seek advice from them? Where are they hiding? Why don't we know about them? Representation is important.”
Ebony Blanding: “I think of Nina’s quote, “It is an artist's duty to reflect the times.”, when asked this. Women filmmakers deserve space to create and have their works considered and weighed in overall discourse about filmmaking. It’s important to art and film mediums at large for women to be more than spoken about but provided fruitful opportunities to create films and reflect their radical imaginings.”
“My experience as woman filmmaker has shaped my answer holistically. I understand at a cellular level how it feels to write about women from a space that is not constructed in male gaze and how important this is.”
“I believe we’ve all done enough talking regarding the disproportionate prospects women have in the film industry. I want action driven dialogue that concerns employing women in film because cinematic perspectives must be reflected that women above-the-line helm.”
Gabi Conti is a comedic host, writer and storyteller, who currently writes and hosts The Elite Daily Show, a daily millennial comedic talk show on Verizon’s go90. She is also the creator, writer and star of the web series There’s No Place Like Home, available on Elite Daily. She was a finalist for NYTVF for her pilot Ex-Communication, and part of JFL stand-up at pitch for her other pilot This One Time @ Camp.
“I think we've obviously made a lot of progress with women in film, but we still have a way to go, so the conversation is important. Hollywood is still a boys club, and we as women need to work together and support each other as much as we can.”
“I've had some amazing collaborations with women in film, the show I host The Elite Daily Show, has a ton of women writers, producers and co-hosts, which is incredible. I got into Just For Laughs from my pilot This One Time @ Camp, and sold a web series There's No Place Like Home, with my writing comedy partner Anna Roisman. I wrote another pilot and shot a sizzle with another writing Partner Jessica Pilot. My roommate Jaclyn Marfuggi and I ran a successful Italian-themed comedy show called Holy Cannoli. A lot of my achievements in content was through the collaboration and support of other women, and I hope we keep supporting each other. I think the way we should talk about women in film is [to] maybe stop making women in film a separate thing... As women we can do our part to collaborate more with each other, and the film industry can do their part in paying and treating women the same as the their co-workers.”
Kimberley Crossman is an actress, author, producer, writer and presenter from New Zealand. She’s worked with the likes of Kevin Connolly, Steven Fry, William Shatner and Joel McHale, among others and is currently studying at the Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles. She is currently developing her own production company, Happy Wife, INC with Katie Wilbert.
“I think it is very important to talk about Women in Film. I think it is inspiring and encouraging to share stories about women achieving great things in any field. I remember reading articles about Elizabeth Banks and Lena Dunham and how they were breaking the mold and it inspired me to give myself permission to dream bigger. More specifically not to wait for someone to give you the opportunity you are waiting for but rather create the opportunity yourself.”
“I do not think that championing women means we should belittle men either, I do not agree with that. Hearing stories about how anyone has overcome something or believed in themselves enough to be told ‘no’ several times and do it anyway are the stories that should be told. Stories of triumph and struggle.”
On a final note Jessica Chastain, who recently helped launch a nonprofit to produce content that empowers women called We Do It Together, penned an essay about working on her latest film, The Zookeeper's Wife, with more women behind the scenes than she had ever worked with before.
"I do think things are changing. The reason I think they are changing is because whenever I talk about these issues with men I know in the industry — they are very talented, really intelligent and very successful men — there's this embarrassment. They say, 'I don't understand how it got to be like this.' And I think that is what will help things change because it takes the group that is the majority in the industry to say, 'Wait a minute: Maybe it's more interesting to have more female voices in the executive suite and not just a token woman.'"
The entire essay is great, you can read it here.