I do not intend for this post to be taken as a well-worded complaint, but rather as encouragement to men as well as women in the film industry. Also, I tried to keep this short… I really did.
I’ll start with what any 20-year-old film student knows best: being a PA. This is the only job that I have been specifically told to “be where I need you to be when I need you to be, or get the fuck out of the way.” On this job, I have had incredulous amounts of time to sit, wait and observe while my superiors work together to ensure that time on set is at maximum efficiency. This is not at all to say that PA’s are useless. Who else gets the pleasure of yelling, “Glass coming through!”* and having every person nail themselves against the wall to get out of your way?
*This is what you yell as you carry lenses to the DP through crowded sets. It’s kind of like a heads-up or a precious cargo label.
During those many collective hours of observation, I began to pick up on patterns, relationships, and dynamics of the crew. I studied how the director interacted with the key grip, sound mixer, and gaffers (even with lowly crew members such as I) and found that his behavior was probably the most, and rightfully so, respectful. I did notice that after the drops of sweat on my back had soaked through my shirt, that there is an incredible amount of heavy lifting and physical endurance required for crew members. I was (begrudgingly) glad that I had a few guys there to help me lift some of this stuff. And they were glad to do it.
Then as it became time for the actors to take their marks, costume and makeup followed with their hairspray and lint rollers–all women.
Just from seeing this (and being a woman myself), I think it’s fairly safe for me to say that most women are creatures of vanity. Let’s be honest, men wouldn’t even think to voluntarily talk to us if we didn’t appear even slightly attractive to them. Instinctively (and heterosexually), we know that if we don’t look good, we ain’t gonna have a mate, find love, and later reproduce. That’s just how it is. With that being said, I think it makes sense that women dominate that area of production. We just know how to make things look good.
But again, with every blanket generalization, there are the outliers. So I don’t mean in any way, shape, or form that men don’t belong in costume or makeup or that women don’t belong on the heavy-lifting side of crew. There are more “outliers” than ever and I think that’s so great.
I will say however, that having worked on a decent amount of shoots big and small, I have both witnessed and experienced my fair share of mistreatment and complete disregard to female presence and leadership on set. Only once have I seen a man called out for his actions–but it was just because there was another woman in the room who had the knads to say something.
And BEEFOOORE you start thinking, “damn right, if women were biologically more confident beings (aka had testicles), then we wouldn’t have this problem,” allow me to stop you right there. That argument would have worked back when men were hunting with spears and women gathered berries and we all lived in a cave and life was just so dandy. If that lifestyle better suites you, than do something more productive and build yourself a time machine. Everyone else, myself included, will thank you.
But like I said before, there are far more outliers today than ever before. You got your “macho” women and your “prissy” men and anyone can marry literally anyone. Oh, what a time to be alive! But I do agree that women generally tend to be a little more soft and compassionate and less robust than our counterparts. However, the hairy feminist in me comes out when I hear that people, men specifically, say we can’t and shouldn’t direct.
Of course, no man is going to come right out and say that. That’s why there’s this thing called the “celluloid ceiling.” Patented by Hollywood production companies, packaged and delivered by the words, “It’s not you, it’s us.”
Hell, some of the most iconic and influential directors in Hollywood (Marty Scorsese) are known for their empathetic and soft style of direction.
Look, I haven’t experienced this kind of limitation but I’m sure I will and I know for a fact that it’s out there affecting real people. And I want to reiterate that this isn’t just a convoluted way of telling everyone that my feelings are hurt by it.
The reason this post isn’t just me feeling offended is because I see the corrupt, male-driven system as an incredible opportunity. I honestly wish someone would look me in the face and say, “Nah, Johnny Hooha would be better for the position.” Seriously, try me. For some masochistic reason, I find red lights 100% more motivational and twice the reason to get what I want. Actually, I just remembered one of the more thought-provoking quotes I’ve stumbled across. It was in Edward Burn’s book when he was discussing how difficult it was to get one of his scripts funded. “If you don’t enjoy running into the same wall over and over, then film is not for you.”
Well hot-dog, ain’t I just a lucky girl?
I know that I am still learning but I also know that I am confident in my abilities. So why would I let this kind of discrimination avert me from going after any position I want? Well, I say fuck you. I’m good and I know I can be great (and even greater with ample funding).
I don’t know how, but I learned very early in my life that it takes a lot of hard work to accomplish great things. I mean really great things. The kind of things that make people feel, think, and discuss ideas. The kind of things that will take the short attention span of today’s consumers and extend it by an hour and a half. The kind of things that people will pay thirteen bucks to watch. The kind of things that can only be accomplished through no other medium but film.