Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where are all the female film directors?

We had a kick ass panel of filmmakers last night for our final Script to Screen Class. Mari Marchbanks, Laura Sobel, Kristina Mann, Spencer Parsons and Jason Wehling. A good mix of documentary, narrative, big and small.

I know it comes around to this a lot and I don't really acknowledge it as some other folks might, but yes there is an extreme lack of female narrative filmmakers in the world. Some of my students have brought it up in the past and Christy asked the panel about it last night.

I find in my adult class there's a fairly good mix of females to males. But inevitably, the males are the ones who dominate when it comes to directing the scripts they've written. In the teen classes, there are very few girls. Over the summer I actually recruited some teen girls who I knew were making stuff. Is it daunting? Yeah. Oh yeah. Does it take a certain personality, yeah. The thing I find most interesting is that the all girl classes that I teach (Girls Summer Film Camp, Ann Richards After School), the girls clamor for the camera, to direct, to set up shots. In the classes comprised of both boys and girls, the girls (typically) back away, slyly and quietly. I did the same thing in Steve Mims class long ago. Growing up, I never raised my hand in class. I never volunteered for stuff. I just listened and watched most of the time. I'm pretty untechnical when it comes to film. But I think I also kid myself quite a bit. I fault myself for not learning the more technical aspects of film. I feel like an idiot sometimes when I can't figure out why the sounds not coming through the microphone or something stupid like that. I'll usually step back and let someone else fix it instead of tackling it myself.

So what can we/I do? Encourage and inspire the younger generation. Give them the confidence and know how to use their voices and tell their stories through a medium that isn't rocket science. Tell them, "good work", "awesome shot", "nice editing". You have no idea how far that goes in a young girl's confidence. Go see the films by female directors. Rent their films at the video store.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only other Austin filmmaker who's made a feature and is a woman is Mari Marchbanks. Is this right? Susan Turley? Who else?


Bryan P said...

After a cursory look at our wall of TFPF videos, two titles jump out at me - Snake Tales by Francesca Talenti & Portrait of a Girl as a Young Cat by Katie Cokinos. Both are from the 90's and neither of the directors live in Austin anymore. More recently, though, I can think of Emily Hagins' Pathogen!

But, besides that, yes there is definitely a dearth of female narrative directors here in town, unfortunately. However, some of the most successful docs to come out of Austin were directed by women - Margaret Brown's Townes Van Zandt doc and her new film The Order of Myths, Laura Dunn's The Unforeseen, both of Heather Courtney's films, etc.

Clare Jane said...

"No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." - E. Roosevelt

I read this after I read your post and it seemed appropriate for all of us who doubt ourselves.