Monday, September 21, 2009

Women in Film

A friend of mine told me that she had recently seen a clip of an interview with director Jane Campion (SWEETIE, PIANO).  Ms. Campion talked about how film schools usually contain an equal mix of male and female film students, but once these students are released into the industry, the percentage shifts alarmingly, and very few female directors actually get their films made.  

Statistics bear her out, and I agree that the female of the species has a tougher time in the feature filmmaking world.  Women with bold and original visions rarely find support, be it with opinion-makers or execs in the business.  Which is why the phrase "girl wonder" sees very little usage--it is not as if there are no wonderful and original girl feature filmmakers; it is just that the odds of them getting acclaim and recognition are steep.

I said steep--not impossible.  Not impossible, because (a) the younger generation--the future movie-goers--gives me huge reasons for hope.  They, incidentally, are the strongest fan-base for my own CLOSET LAND.  They don't care that I am female or Indian--they have no preconceived notions as to what sort of films a "Third World female filmmaker" is supposed to make, and they therefore have been receptive to my work with an openness that unfortunately eluded some older critics and savants. (b) Free media, like the one I am using now, allow female filmmakers equal access to their public, and the ability to speak directly to their audience; to build such an audience, to tend it and grow it.  (c) I am essentially an optimist.  I believe that what's good and decent will have its day.

That said, one still has to do the work.  And part of the work, for ANY filmmaker--male or female--is to be endlessly creative.  This was the hardest lesson for me to learn: to not focus exclusively on one project, but to create a whole slate of projects.  The more arrows in your quiver, the more your chances of one of them hitting the mark. 

So while you take your meetings and do your networking and research and everything else you need to do to take your scripts to screen, use the lull (waiting for the phone call/email; the empty hours that face you when the meeting is suddenly cancelled; the doldrums forced upon you when you discover that the financier you were banking on has no financing that can be banked) to create.  Create more projects.  Create stories and novels, graphic books and webisodes, TV series and documentaries.  But create.  Do the work.   Make your quiver full of strong arrows.

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