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The Quest for an All Female Crew!

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Kim KalishI’m a Woman. And a Filmmaker. I didn’t set out to have an all female film crew. I just wanted a lady director. Badly.

The Oscar nominations had come out the week before and it had lit a fire under my butt. I wanted to make something. To speak up. To yell at the top of my lungs “HEY YOU DON’T NEED A PENIS TO MAKE FILMS PEOPLE WILL RESPOND TO!” And so I wrote a parody song because, well, comedy is the only addiction I’ve found that can help me cope with life’s frustrations without shortening my lifespan (I think).

I wasn’t the only one who took notice. I read multiple articles sharing my dismay in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, the list goes on…

I created a musical sketch about the lack of female filmmaking so I wanted a female director. Cut to me realizing that I didn’t know one single comedic female director in LA. I felt ashamed. How? HOW is that even possible? Now I’ll grant you that I’ve only been in LA for two years, the majority of my contacts are still in New York. I’ll even give you that I call myself an actor/writer/comedian. Producing is pretty new for me. But, come on, you must know someone. And then I thought about the numbers. Only 3% of cinematographers are women. A measly 27% percent of the WGA is female. 38% of the top 250 films of last year had ZERO or ONE woman in a leadership position. No film went without at least one man in a leadership position. The numbers are invariably against us.

Let me be clear, I know many men who are vastly talented and deserve every opportunity they’ve received but I also know many women who are equally as talented and haven’t been afforded the same opportunities to showcase those talents. And if Hollywood and the studio system can’t find room for women in leadership and technical positions, how was my tiny musical parody sketch going to find the women to lead us?

So I asked around; I put out emails. And then this happened:

EXT. STARBUCKS – DAY

KIM parks her car and finds GARY who’s waiting for her. They hug it out Entourage style and proceed to catch up with each other. We can’t hear their conversation until:

Kim

So that’s the plan. I just need to find a lady director.

Gary

I don’t think it needs to necessarily be a female director.

Kim

It’s a musical sketch about the lack of female filmmakers.

Don’t you think having it directed by a man negates our entire message?

Gary

Kim. You’re producing it. You’re in it. I think you’ve made your point.

It felt as if he patted me on the head, told me that there’s no monsters under my bed and shushed me back to sleep. And let me be clear, my dear wonderful readers, this guy is a good guy. A wonderfully supportive friend who was simply was trying to be helpful. But it dawned on me that he and I are part of this very system holding back women. I don’t need to tell you that women are talented and just as capable as men. I just needed to do something about it.

This project was going to be directed by a woman, damnit. It was going to be shot by women and we were going to tell our damn message.

That’s Leslie Korein there kicking ass and directing the hell out of her cast.

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Carissa Dorson, DP extraordinaire came next. I found her through an old friend who could not stop raving about her skills.

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Then Emily King Brown, my genius makeup artist

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And my incredibly talented editor, Lauren Gaudite.

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The fact that my producing and writing partner, Andrea Schwartz was also able to be on set everyday was just the icing on the cake.

And so there it was. I looked around and realized, I had a kickass all lady filmmaking crew.

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We set out an ambitious schedule: 6 locations, 2 days, all over LA. On the first morning, we asked everyone to start tweeting and instagraming using the hashtag #allladycrew. I expected jokes and tidbits from the set but I didn’t anticipate the excitement people would have. Look, I was excited. Over the freaking moon that it all worked itself out but what I didn’t realize is that people were getting fired the hell up. Everyone was elated that we could find an all female crew. Even the all male background talent were excited. Later on, a few would tell me that the energy was different on set. It’s possible it’s the first time they were around several powerful women working together. It was certainly my first time.

And let me just say (which smartypants that you are, you already know this) there is no difference in quality between having an all female crew and having an all male crew. Leslie, my director, runs a tight ship. She’s on schedule, she knows what she wants and she’ll quickly tell you if you’re not giving her what she wants. Carissa (DP) will put on whatever equipment she needs to get the shot she wants. She put herself in a freaking bush in Griffith Park to get the right shot.

There were bits and jokes from every corner of set. Normally, I’m the only woman on a sketch shoot and all the dudes around me make dick jokes. Well, replace all the men with women and the jokes don’t disappear, they just become vagina jokes.

Okay, okay, okay. There’s one difference. When one of the girls was looking for a tampon, we all had one. That never happens on set. You always have to scramble.

My point is this: Hire women. Hire more women. Hire talented women who can do their job. Hire them because they deserve a job. Hire them because they’re the best damn person for the job. Hire them because you need someone on set who might have that tampon.

Just hire women because nothing is going to change if we don’t support each other.

Editor’s note: A big part of the reason that Ms. In The Biz is putting together #HireaMs (a database to help find women to crew up our projects) is because Kim contacted me looking for a female editor.   I knew a few but was surprised I didn’t know more. So if you are a women who is in production, post-production, crew… contact us at hireams@msinthebiz.com with your name, email, weblinks, twitter handle, which city you are based in, and what your skills are, and we’ll add you to our growing database here: http://msinthebiz.com/hireams/  And please spread the word!

  • Helenna Santos (Ms. In The Biz founder/CEO)

Now sit back and enjoy:

Kim Kalish

About Kim Kalish

Kim Kalish is an actor, comedian and writer based in Los Angeles. She's originally from New York but now can't handle temperatures under 70 degrees. She trained with UCBNY and has been featured in sketches on Conan.