December 3, 2014

Prom Queen of Second Place

"I'm gonna leave how I came, screaming, covered in blood. Died once, born twice, both times we knuckled up, along side our people we gonna struggle with love. So struggle with love." - Blue Scholars.
YES. Let's talk about THE STRUGGLE. 

We are surrounded by these wonderful sentiments that the film industry is looking for more female Writers and Directors telling stories about women. These statements have been declared in several national contests that I have participated in. Even our boyfriend George Stroumboulopoulos declared his desire for this. Oh it's been the kind of sweet talk a girl can get high on, until the sentiment proves to be an empty promise. 

For the past five years I've been developing my genre features. I am very grateful to have a feature film under my belt, but it has not been without a constant struggle to aggressively defend my creations that live outside the precious male demographic. I have been applying for every funding stream imaginable and lately I'm feeling like the Prom Queen of Second Place; short-listed on grants, second place for mentorship opportunities, close to development deals, almost, not quite... and before me, a lot of amazing male-driven projects are being rewarded, but so are the mediocre ones. It's hard not to take that personally and I fear that female-driven projects are being pushed to the margins.

I can understand that it's a Man's World in the land of Hollywood, were films are privately funded with a strong tradition of bromance, but filmmakers in Canada often rely on government dollars. For a country deeply steeped in the rhetoric of diversity, all we're seeing is a vast wall of multicoloured dicks. As journalist Jessica Kiang points out, "we're not talking about a minority here... we're talking about women - 50% of the population and, crucially, 50% of cinema audiences." The statistics of female-driven projects are disheartening. There's a lot of talk in Canada, but when it comes down to investing in a female creator, it's just not being done. Reality is, after you overcome the universal struggle of knowing what you want to say as a writer, you're entering the arena with a low survival rate because of sexism. Guess what I say to that?

The male-dominated industry is very competitive and focused on profit margins. This is why even women in positions of power (Producers, Distributors, Broadcasters) don't take financial risks on an unknown female writer. So we can't look to our traditional models for change.

Collectively, we need to make this our struggle. Women must come together, hire and empower other women, fund other women, mentor other women. The more we encourage others to join us, the better. Which brings me to this exciting announcement:

Women Genre Writers Contest 

Women in Film & TV Vancouver (WIFTV) have launched a Canada-wide contest for female genre writers. I attended an information session at FAVA this week to hear Sharon McGowan and Karen Lam talk about the program and the mentorship opportunities with Rachel Talalay (Dr. Who), Rupert Harvey (Critters, Pump Up the Volume), Amanda Tapping (Continuum) and marketing expert Annelise Larson. 

This is what I'm talking about! I fully endorse this contest and couldn't be more excited! I will be submitting and encourage you to do the same. The application process is very simple. There are no catches and no removal of your intellectual property.  This is the beginning of a real movement toward Sisterhood in the industry, by finding ways to develop women's stories and ensure they own them. Read about the contest here and good luck! Until then ladies, struggle with love. xo


Sheri Graydon: Telefilm Canada Neglects Female Filmmakers
Jessica Kiang: 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention from Hollywood
Matthew Hammett Knot: 10 Most Exciting Young Female Directors in the World Today

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