Ladies, Lower Your Voice!


There is a shocking lack of females in the above the line positions in Hollywood.  Directing, Director of Photography and so on.  Now, perhaps I am naïve, but I don’t believe that it is a conspiracy.  Yes, I am sure the old white boys club exists.  Sadly, it always will.  And that club has given us some amazing films.  However, it has been my direct experience that men have always welcomed me as a producer or director or stunt person.  It has been my experience that men have supported and helped me, never undermined or derided me.

We woman are still lacking an equal voice in this industry.  I think that is simply because people aren’t used to hearing our voice.

I was on set directing a web series about larping (“Live Action Role Playing”) called Damsels & Dragons a couple of years ago.

Damsels & Dragons logo web

I had a male DP, AD, and 1AC.  We had a limited location so we were trying to figure out the best way to get coverage.  The four of us stood around discussing options.

I said “Hey Guys, How about we flip her and the camera around and cheat her coverage with the same woods in the background.  I think it’ll match.”

They stopped talking.  Looked over at me with a questioning face and then promptly went back to talking about the issue.  As if I hadn’t said a thing.

My producer, who was a female, was standing near by.

I nudged her and said, “Watch this.”  And said the exactly same thing the exact same way.  This time the guys didn’t even look up.  My producer started to get pissed!  I held her back.  I cleared my throat, dropped the pitch of my voice down a couple of octaves and repeated myself.

I said (in my booming-est voice) “Hey Guys, Let’s flip the actress and the camera around and cheat her coverage with the same woods in the background.  It’ll match.”

Their heads popped up.

They looked at me, thought for a moment and said, “Yeah, yeah that’ll totally work.  Good idea.”

And immediately started setting up the shot.  COMPLETELY OBLIVOUS to what I had done to my voice.

My normal speaking voice is pretty girlie.   It’s higher.  I frequently speak with bringing my voice even higher at the end of my sentences, which makes it sound like I am not as confident as I feel.   I have found by using this new speaking technique it is easier for me to be heard but those who truly want to hear me.  And when I don’t, they either don’t hear or are quicker to discount/dismiss what I am saying.”

Simple but important.

So here’s my theory.

Most men want us around.  Most men value our ideas and contributions.  Most men appreciate what we have to offer.  BUT MOST MEN AREN’T USED TO HEARING OUR VOICE IN THOSE POSITIONS.  They are conditioned to a lower timber.  They communicate on a certain frequency.

I’m not saying we should change to fit in, I am just saying, before we go screaming SEXIST, getting our feelings hurt and fighting a battle of the sexes that might not exist, perhaps, just perhaps, we should remember that as women become more and more involved in the industry, we are still moving in uncharted waters.

Both genders need to be retrained.  As we learn to project our confidence in our voice, men will learn to hear it.

And then the movie magic we will make together

The Reason Video - me and JA To Recap:

If you are feeling unheard:

  1. Stay calm
  2. Ground your voice from your diaphragm or even better your ovaries rather than your throat.
  3. Clear out unnecessary qualify words such as “I think it could possibly work if we try it this way maybe?” instead speak with confidence “It could work if we try it this way.”
  4. Do not go up at the end of your sentences.  It’s a period not a question mark.  It’s a confident statement not a request for approval.

If they are still ignoring your brilliance or disrespecting you, they are dicks.   Don’t work with them anymore.


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