You’ve heard it many times before, this is a man’s world. It’s easy for women to get discouraged in a business where many people still put us in the, ‘look pretty on camera, but leave the decisions to the men’, category. The topic of women in film, both on and off camera, has always been a hot one. Recently, the question, “why aren’t there more female filmmakers?” has been asked more than ever before. There actually ARE many women in Hollywood writing, directing, and producing quality film. The challenge: getting the rest of the industry to notice so more women follow in their footsteps.
Examples of strong women making their mark are all around us. Filmmaker and actor Leah McKendrick is one of them. McKendrick found a niche in feminist content exploring issues she feels are underrepresented. She makes movies through her company, Villainess Productions, that tell stories about women that all of us can relate to.
I spoke with McKendrick after watching her most recent short film, The Girl In The Green Dress, which she wrote and produced with fellow filmmaker, Sara Fletcher. The film is a beautifully shot period piece set in the world of 1950’s housewives. The movie, directed by Johanna Goldstein, gives us a peek into what it is like to live in a world, as McKendrick puts it, “of black and white despite having a colorful inner life.” The film was written, produced, and directed by an all-female crew. It sheds light on women who don’t feel they can fully express themselves, an issue that is still relevant in many ways today.
What struck me most about what McKendrick does as a filmmaker goes far beyond the topics in her female driven films. Her motivated, “work begets work- just get it done” attitude will have a wide and positive effect on the film industry. She leads by example, showing other filmmakers (male and female alike) that no matter who you are, hard work and consistency pays off.
McKendrick’s advice for women trying to find their place in the film world is simple: “Keep creating. I really believe that’s the secret. As my spirit animal, Mark Duplass says, ‘The cavalry isn’t coming.’ It’s a tough pill to swallow. Then one day you will wake up, and you’ll be the cavalry.”
For some, the word “feminism” used to be associated with women hating men. It still struggles to shed its stigma as a, McKendrick notes, “dirty word”. I’ll admit, I never used to consider myself a feminist for that very reason. How could I support feminism if I loved men? I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that being a feminist doesn’t mean you don’t support the other half of the population. Feminism by definition, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is, ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.’ This seems pretty reasonable to me. There are many talented men who enjoy working with strong females. The questions isn’t, How do we, as women, do it all on our own? It’s How do we work together to get on equal ground with the amazing men that have already found their place in film? According to McKendrick, “…there is going to be a point where many of our prominent, finest filmmakers will be women, and it will be undeniable. It’s going to take a lot of filmmakers and a lot of great films. It’s going to take all of us. That’s why when it comes to women in Hollywood, fight the urge to get competitive. We’re on the same team. There’s strength in numbers.”
The change we need won’t come easy, but we’re getting there. With more hard work, creativity and some good old fashioned girl power, women filmmakers will continue to knock ‘em dead. So, look out Hollywood because these babes are here to stay.
Check out the trailer for ‘The Girl In The Green Dress’ here.