Posted by: michellemuldoon | August 11, 2016

Things Female Filmmakers Share

Talking

At the start of my film journey I found it hard to get on set. I remember volunteering for a short film made by a first time filmmaker, and I was asked for a resume. I thought it was overkill for a P.A. job until I realized that a first time filmmaker doesn’t have the hidden network that provides names of people to use, people to avoid, and advice on how to navigate the dicey issues of onset conduct.

I’m now a part of other filmmakers’ networks and I have one of my own. Most of the filmmakers in my local network are women, which I’m sure is not a surprise considering my commitment to gender equity and my involvement with Women in Film and Television Vancouver.  However, it might surprise people to hear I generally have a gender balanced set. This blog post is going to follow suit.

What I’ve noticed in the last few years is that whether it’s from a man or a woman, female filmmakers are putting up with less and less bad behaviour. And what should be frightening for many is, we’re telling each other about our experiences.

I can’t speak for every filmmaker’s network, but I can tell you what the conversations have been in mine:

  • If you’re one of those women who supports other women, we definitely sing your praises.
  • If you’re one of those men who treats everyone professionally, regardless of gender identity, then we definitely share your name. You’re a keeper.
  • If you show up on time, we don’t talk about you because we expect that’s part of being professional, but if you’re late or a no show, we talk. Oh yeah, we talk.
  • If you’re one of those women who hates to see another woman get ahead, we know who you are. You can’t hide forever.
  • If you’re one of those men who defers to the next highest ranking male instead of the woman director or producer then be warned, we talk a lot about you.
  • If you’re one of those men who would choose a man of inferior skills and resume over a woman (yes, this happens) then we most definitely warn each other about you.
  • If you get drunk and hit on people at the wrap party, be warned, we notice.
  • If you’re the cast or crew member who treats people on set poorly or with little regard for manners, you’re on the naughty list and we warn each other about you. The filmmakers in my network don’t want an above the line position filled by someone who treats below the line poorly.
  • If you make sexist jokes or untoward advances on set, we are warning everyone about you. And no, you can’t laugh it off as your sense of humour or accuse people of being uptight. It’s wrong. You’re wrong. Learn from it.
  • If you love your cell phone or shmoozing with people on set more than you love getting the project done on time, then guess what, we don’t want you and we don’t want our friends to hire you. The project should always be the priority regardless of the size of, or lack of, cheque that comes with it.
  • If you believe in respectful collaboration, we love you, and we share your name all the time.

These are all topics of conversation I’ve had in the last year in my network. Please note, none of my female network blanket hires women. What we all want are people we can work with. However, if men continue to hire men by default, then guess what so will we, and I don’t think drawing gender battle lines is in the best interests of the industry. Hire us, and we’ll hire you and everyone works. It really is that simple.

Ultimately, what filmmakers want is a collaborative environment where the project is the most important thing; not ego, not insecurity, not status and not gender. Gender disparity is a looming shadow. Breaking the glass ceiling is going to take a united effort.

Ultimately, I like to remember the immortal twitter words of Will Wheaton… Don’t be a dick. Everyone will know who you are sooner than later… because we talk… Oh, yeah, we talk.

Collaboration

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Erotic Vampire and commented:
    Well said Michelle, well said.

    • Thank you so much Ellen!


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