I’m often pulled into various discussions on the representation of women in film. In front of the camera. Behind the camera. Sitting in the audience. There is chatter on the marketing of toys. Who is choking whom on a billboard. The types of films women direct. The types of films women watch. How women can change their behavior to fit into the industry. How there is a lack of female representation in the film industry and what we can do to increase women in the filmmaking arena.
I am inundated with the voices on the internet screaming for SOMEONE to change the way things work. Telling me that if I don’t go and support the genre I love, regardless of the quality of the work, we won’t get more of these films in the theaters. That if I don’t support a film directed by a women, even if it’s a genre I don’t like, that I’m not helping make a change for women.
A recent analysis that was shared with me focused on how IMDb ratings are skewed for shows aimed at female audiences. Much can be said on how numbers are sliced, but I paused at the listing of women’s shows. These are not my shows. I flash back to the time I complained in a book store that the tattoo magazines were in the “Men’s Interest” section of the newsstand. Yes, there is a problem here, but there are lots of problems everywhere. I want to fine-tune my focus to help create the change that I want to see and not just highlight Every. Single. Issue.
Simple logic: I love action films. I am a woman. Therefore, there must be other women that love action films and there must be women that want to make action films. Repeat for horror. Repeat for science fiction. Repeat for fantasy. Repeat for westerns. Repeat, etc…
I’m just one person. I’m just one person that joined up with a couple other people that share the same passion as I do. Kayley Viteo and Heidi Honeycutt agree with me that women filmmakers are out there. They are talented. They are passionate. They want to direct tent pole features. They just don’t have the same opportunities and visibility. So we focus on that. It’s not that we don’t care or don’t have an opinion on other issues (actually, you will find we get pretty opinionated on lots of things), but this is the one we hold close and are pushing to change. The most exciting part is how many other folks have joined us to rally behind this cause. Our co-presenter, American Cinematheque, believes in this. Sponsors like Birns & Sawyer and Digital Bolex. Partners like ISA, Women in Media, Femme Fatales, Seeking Our Story. The list goes on.
And with this increased support we can expand our scope. We tour the films so that fans outside of Hollywood can see these works and appreciate filmmakers that the studios are not marketing. We build teams of women crews through our networking groups to get together and make more content. We have added Rack Focus screenings at the Egyptian and Aero Theatres so that more genres and more films, both feature length and short format, can be represented in our presentations.
Last night I went to watch the Cinematography Visual Essays for the class of 2016 at AFI. Gender representation in the schools isn’t the issue. How can we help carry their momentum forward into paying gigs once the students leave the classroom? How can women add to their portfolio so they have the experience needed? It’s no secret that women with film degrees often get passed over for entry level positions while men, even with zero experience or even desire for particular jobs in camera and lighting, get the job because of the “it’s technical” mindset.
Etheria Film Night is not just a showcase of women-directed films. We are a community of women behind the camera that are here to support each other and show that women do make quality, crowd-pleasing films that are not always romantic comedies. Our next event is our annual Etheria Film Night at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on June 11, 2016. We will be showing Anna Biller’s 35mm feature The Love Witch, a visual feast full of love for satanic sexploitation. Later that evening is a screening of nine shorts all of genres, including western, horror, action, and science fiction. We will be presenting an Inspiration Award to the trailblazing horror-comedy director Jackie Kong (Blood Diner and Night Patrol). We won’t just be watching these films; we will be celebrating these films and the filmmakers that created them. Every single person that helps make this event a reality, from the filmmakers to the judges to the fans, I salute you. Now let’s rock.
Stacy Pippi Hammon is the Festival Director of Etheria Film Night. View a trailer for the event here.