My head is SPINNING — The month of June ended up killing it for me in industry land!
Here is a list of every event I was fortunate enough to attend (Psst..Permission granted to geek out on every guest speaker just like I did):
Women Of Action: Redefining The Superhero See Jane Salon (presented by Geena Davis Institute on Gender In Media)
Etheria Film Night’s Reel Grrl’s Charity Mixer
LA Film Festival Black Lives Black Protest Panel
LA Film Festival Women Make It Happen
With such a diverse group of panels– below is a mashup of what I learned from the events that featured Hollywood’s biggest female power players:
1) MORE WOMEN ARE PRODUCERS THAN MEN B/C THEY ARE LESS ATTACHED TO BEING RIGHT
Hey, that sounds like females don’t stand by what they believe in or they will easily back down from a fight?! Actually, the way some of the producers explained it was that in most cases women, compared to most men, have less of an ego. For instance:
- A) Females don’t have a need to assert alpha all the time in groups.
- B) We know when and how to work well with others.
- C) We don’t insist on having companies named after us.
- D) We are amazeballs at problem solving.
- E) We are open to hearing other people’s opinions.
There has been MANY a horror story within the industry of how men have told female producers/directors that “they aren’t doing something right” or “it’s not going to work”
(Sidebar: If you haven’t heard about Shit People Say To Women Directors, run over and check it out after you read my article).
Women in a lead position will usually hear a situation out before making a decision whereas most men in a lead position being told what to do by a woman would… Nevermind. It doesn’t happen. Yet. “By being receptive you can command respect” (Nina Jacobson The Hunger Games Series).
2) YOU MAY SPEND MANY YEARS WALKING ON TIME BOMBS BEFORE FINDING YOUR TRIBE
Nina Yang Bongiovi (Fruitvale Station/Dope) said she spent 9 years of walking on time bombs before she met and collaborated with Forrest Whittaker. Gale Anne Hurd (Terminator/The Walking Dead), who had to clean toilets in motor homes at the beginning of her career, said for every success she has had, there have been 99 fails. Dede Gardner (12 Years A Slave) pointed out that it’s about getting more rigorous with having more good people in your life. There is too much noise from naysayers who don’t want you to succeed and a bunch of island nationers that you need to tune out. Up until recently, my life was saturated with them–it nearly made me almost want to quit the business. Ultimately, I cleaned house on all the toxic people that were creating new time bombs in my life. Nowadays, I’m that really cool person with the shades who is walking away slow motion style from all the fire and explosions while never looking back.
Bottom Line: “FIND YOUR TRIBE” (Dede Gardner). Then you can get started on the real path to success.
3) THE POWER OF SAYING “NO”
We wake up in the morning with a massive list, checking off tasks we need to get done for ourselves BUT WAIT: The phone rings and texts start coming in: Shonda R. needs help breaking down a budget! Joss W. wants you to go over the outline of his script (DISCLAIMER: If THESE two people need your help you are excused from the following lesson).
If only women weren’t so easy to say “yes” all the time to every single person that comes along and needs a favor. Although we should definitely help people whenever we can, when it comes to the industry, chances are the favor being asked of you is going to be a time consuming one and possibly one you will be doing for free. You will find when trying to help others with their own agendas, your projects will keep getting put on back burners until there is nothing left to burn because you are burned out. Raise your hand if you are guilty of this. To protect yourself when doing favors, make sure you weigh the pros and cons. Maintain your projects as well. “Be aware of the clock you should” (My personal Yoda).
4) ONLY DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Across the board we were encouraged to go and tell the stories we love that AREN’T getting made and only get behind it if it will hurt us NOT to get the film made. Be prepared to be in it for the long run and never give up. Because it takes so long to get a film off the ground you definitely want to really love what you are doing. Can you imagine committing a significant amount of your life to something you didn’t find satisfaction in? “Make a conscious act to move the needle” (Nina Jacobson).
5) HOLLYWOOD’S BIGGEST FEMALE PRODUCERS/DIRECTORS ARE JUST LIKE ALL OF US
In less than two weeks I was given a unique opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals, listen and learn from some of the most successful innovative industry women working in the largely male dominated market today. The women all shared insightful tidbits about themselves. It turns out they’re all just normal people who sometimes deal with different insecurities, still think they haven’t “made it”, and are uncertain about their future in the industry. The main theme was that they all are passionate about improving the gender/race imbalance for not just adults but for our children. To get to a place where we can all simply focus on the human and soon forget about character’s genders in the storytelling.
As Ali Adler (Supergirl) said, “It won’t be about who’s the best male superhero or who’s the best female superhero. It will just be about who’s best for the job.”