I don’t normally use my blog to be serious but I’m going to say something about women filmmakers here because I’m fed up (it also applies to working class people / the not independently wealthy / older generations).
People touting me as an example of a female filmmaker that has ‘broken through’ are missing the point. I have worked in the film industry for over a decade – I knew how it worked, I had access to contacts and information, I was surrounded by supportive and encouraging peers. Still, I was totally broke for years and had to be bailed out many times by parents and partners and philanthropic arts charities. We all know that female directors and writers are not breaking through, that non-film background women don’t know how to even start to enter that world, that there is a dearth of female stories written by women.
Now we need to evolve the ideas of *why* this is the case and *do something* proactive and positive to change it – some proper blue sky thinking. From a screenwriting point of view – maybe it is worth considering the idea that women work differently to men and would welcome a different kind of development. Even if you get past the first hurdle of thinking – ‘I want to have a go and having a go is possible for me’ – the model for development adopted by most institutions is very masculine and cut throat (and frankly, off-putting). Yet creativity often requires atmospheres of trust and ‘play’. Instead of running more of the same ‘schemes’ and initiatives where entry requires you to pitch an idea on paper and fill in a confusing application form to be sent blind to a judging panel who can only make an assessment on what is written down or a ‘previous short you have made’ – perhaps it is time to think outside of the box in terms of how to get women (and other fringe groups) to come forward and then to get past the gate posts. Most ‘non film’ people I know will tell you after a glass of wine that they have an idea for a film – most women are at their funniest when chatting with close friends… If things are really to change we need to broaden our ideas of how we find the people who really could break through and then how to give them the right support and circumstances.
The statistics about industry diversification make me feel depressed and negative – and that’s perhaps part of the problem. Women are fucking cool and our stories are cool – this debate is boring unless it evolves to investigate HOW to change things.
I can think of seven ways off the top of my head, on a train with the added pressure of needing a pee:
1. Asking normal women (and fringe groups) what prevents them from ‘having a go’
2. A different way of finding and encouraging talent.
3. Making sure it’s not prohibitive due to finances, time, location.
4. Support and development that encourages rather than knocks back – an emphasis on creativity and positivity not cold pitching to panels (which by the way, I have done on every single course and never in the real work environment).
5. The creation of new awards by festivals and institutions – if you create an award studios and film-financiers will create content with an aim to WIN that award.
6. Incentivising cinemas and audiences to screen and support the films that are made.
7. Make it cool.