Last week I attended the BANFF Convention, where I was very disappointed to sit and listen to panel after panel of men sharing their work and opinions about what is next in the entertainment industry.
There was even a representative there for Up.tv which is a woman driven channel, and guess what, a man was representing it. I grew frustrated and fidgety in my seat, looking around a room filled with more woman than men and had to ask myself, “What the heck! Why can’t they can’t bring in some ladies to speak?”
Now, I’m not saying I want to replace all the men with women, but I do want us to have a seat at the table. I want to hear a woman’s perspective as well as a man’s. And hey, I’m sure the men in the audience would have liked to see a woman up there talking as well!
I recently had the pleasure of working on a film with Helenna Santos and Barry Morgan, they were producing partners on their project, The Infected, and I enjoyed watching their fantastic dynamic together. The film has an equal cast of men and women. Helenna and Barry collaborated on the story, and guess what? The lead female isn’t just a stupid girl who runs around naked and oblivious to what’s going on around her, which can sometimes be the trend in horror flicks. Thank you Barry and Helenna. It was refreshing as a female actor to work with both a man and a woman calling the shots!
I had the same experience acting in a feature film called, “Rabid Love” where Hayley Derryberry and her husband Paul Porter, collaborated with such ease. I felt so comfortable with them, and I loved having a female producer who understood my needs as a woman on set. Many years ago I was working on a horror film as an actress when the director and producer started disagreeing over the scene (both men) they took their discussion out of the room and left me strapped to a chair freezing cold, covered in blood and completely uncomfortable for over thirty minutes. Fast forward to me working with Hayley and Paul, where I, as an actress, again had to get covered in blood and lay on the freezing cold ground. The difference this time was that Paul and Hayley were extremely concerned for me and the other actress. Hayley and Paul worked fast to get the shots we needed and get us out of the cold ASAP.
What Barry, and Paul have in common is that they are excited and ready to make smart female driven films. They know that women have equally good ideas as men. They aren’t threatened working along side a woman to get the job done right!
I am the only female producer on our next feature film, along with four men. Our story centers on a female character and if my voice wasn’t heard, I could only imagine how distorted our story would become. I have seen so many female driven films, and I can always tell when it was only men in the writing room. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but for the most part it is glaringly obvious when there is no female voice in the collaboration. Men can definitely write a woman’s story, just like a woman can write a man’s story, but that, in my opinion, is the exception to the rule.
In order to tell stories for all different types of people, we need all different types of people in the creative room. Men and Women alike! And entertainment needs to stop fearing female lead movies. They make money, a lot of money! And it’s time for the female voice to step in and take a place at the table; writing, producing, editing and directing!
And to finish up, I must quote Cate Blanchet, who said at this years academy awards, “And thank you to… those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with woman at the center, are niche audiences. They are not—audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.”
I think we are on to something here with the idea of a man and a woman teaming up to bring a project to life. As a female filmmaker, my smartest choices are surrounding myself with incredibly open-minded men and women. People who listen to me, and respect what I have to say, and vice versa.
We have the power to choose who we work with. Its up to us to find amazing people to partner with, because it is not Girls VS Boys, it is all of US working together to create the best story that touches everyone in the audience.