“The industry” is an old boy’s club

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Contributor PhotoEmma closes her eyes and relaxes as all of the ambient sounds weave together in her mind to create a beautiful, soothing song. As she listens, the worry lines on her face disappear. Suddenly, the song comes crashing to a halt. She stiffens in her seat as HER BOSS (50’s, as gross as possible) massages her neck. Emma’s Boss: “Why so tense, doll?”

This is both a scene from the screenplay June, Adrift and from the real life of one of the writers. In real life, my boss asked me to continue to work on my tasks while he worked on me, unless I wanted to get up so he could “watch me walk away”.  That was the first week of my first (unpaid) job after college, and I assumed it would be an isolated incident. Two months later, when I got my first (paid) job on a set, I noticed I was one of only three women on the crew. As such, I received all manner of dubiously dazzling propositions from crew members. One man twenty-plus years my senior at the crafty table once offered to show me the stars if I “played my cards right” while he proudly displayed the tattoo of a naked dancing woman on his sagging bicep.  A year later, a powerful manager who had once asked me out while I was in a relationship asked if I would like his help on any original scripts I’d written, since he had always “seen something special” in me. After forwarding him materials, I waited for a few weeks before inquiring as to his notes. His answer? “I purposefully got your hopes up so I could dash them. Now you, too, know what it feels like to be rejected.”

In front of the camera similar rules reign. Often times there is a middle range for male actors in terms of physical appearance, but female actors in many shows fall into two categories: fit or fat. Either they are surpassingly beautiful, the pinnacle of what every woman should strive for, or they are so purposefully unsightly as to never, ever, EVER be taken as a sexual threat/possibility and are therefore relegated to being the quirky, funny best friend who is worthy only of the love of the most awkward or hideous males. Only a select few can successfully navigate that dreaded in-between.

Any woman who has worked in Hollywood could probably supply her own version of these stories. “The industry” is an old boy’s club where narcissism and nepotism reign supreme and where C-cups are often more hindrance than help. Since I have gotten here I have encountered a nauseating wave of stereotyping and sexism and an almost willful ignorance of the situation by most involved. In order to succeed in this world, I see a lot of women go one of two ways: capitalizing on sex as a tool or almost aggressively adopting the part of tough, guy’s girl. Yet many of us are struggling to live in the middle and to create an industry where we can first be identified by our professional skills, personality assets and experience and only way down the list of descriptive adjectives by our sex.

All female production company Crafty Shoddmanship seeks to demonstrate that a film can succeed with three strong central female characters whose plot arcs do not rely on the satisfaction of finding male companions, that a film can succeed when produced by, directed by, written by, edited by, production designed by, DPed by, colored by, script supervised by, wardrobe designed by, makeup and hair designed by women, and that there is a market for a character-driven story featuring three real-looking women.

Crafty Shoddmanship is an LA-based production company comprised of Christine Moore, Cassie Ramoska and Amanda McCann.  We collaborated on this article, but Amanda took the lead.

EDITORS NOTE:  Have you experienced the “old boy’s club?” What did you do to get past it?  What are some positive actions that you took?  Let’s create a dialogue!