A lot is being said right now about women in film. Wage inequality is being exposed. The mistreatment of women in Hollywood is finally under public scrutiny. Women are steadily climbing the filmmaking ranks. There’s a lot going on with regard to equalizing the entertainment industry and hopefully, by virtue of this change, we’ll get more and better films ABOUT women.
As a thirty-something white guy in the film business, I’m about as much a minority as a grain of sand at the beach. I wouldn’t pretend to intimately understand the trials of being a woman in a flooded old-boys club like Hollywood and its “indie” cousins. No, I’m not going to write about that.
What I do feel confident to talk about is the importance of great stories ABOUT women. I want to share some thoughts on the importance of women in MY films.
Raised by one strong woman and now married to another one (seventeen years and counting) I have a lot of up-close perspective on all that a woman is and can be. I cannot imagine writing a script with stereotypical, trope-towing ladies, because I haven’t yet known any such woman in real life.
They get tired, but somehow find a next level, almost supernatural will to carry on. Don’t believe me, be in a room with a woman giving birth. Women get broken, but find a way to stitch the chaos together and continue to lead. Look at women who are abandoned in the very midst of life and left to raise children/run businesses/manage financial ruin on their own. I saw this characteristic up close in my own mother and have seen it a hundred times since through my wife’s work with teenagers.
When I launch into a new script, my inclination is almost always to see a woman as the hero. There is a decisiveness in the women I know (except regarding restaurant choices… that one confounds me) that inspires an easy belief in their heroism.
Women don’t have to be re-defined or made masculine to be unforgettable characters. The notion is a bit silly, in fact. They don’t need to be anti-man to be awesome, either. Women need to be portrayed HONESTLY. Let them fall in love and let them be rescued, if the story calls for it, but don’t let it end there. Let them be heroes, let them be villains, let them fight and let them choose their own fate. You don’t have to be a woman to write these characters, you just have to be observant, honest and do some homework. Equality isn’t about gender-flipping, it’s about an even playground. It’s about fairness.
Have I got it perfect? No and I don’t pretend I could. But it’s important to me that women are represented truthfully and powerfully in my own films. That’s the part I, the walking filmmaker stereotype, can play in fixing the skewed view of the world the movies have foisted on us. I’d encourage any of my scribe/directorial brethren to take up the fight, too.
In the films that connect to the two trailers we released this week (Inspiration and Home Away) there are amazing women pushing through complex and unique situations.
Inspiration is about author Samantha Kingsley (played expertly by Emily Alatalo) who’s success was built on a popular horror novel. She has since moved on to other genres, but without much success. In a collision of events, she is faced with an offer she can’t refuse to return to the world of Grinning Charlie (her villain) even as her marriage comes to a screeching halt. Already a self-made woman, she must now figure out how to rebuild.
Throughout the story, she is forced to lean on herself to navigate the craziness that breaks out around her (it’s a thriller, after all) and in the end, if she is to be saved, she must save herself. Are there men? Yes. Do they matter? Yes. Does that minimize her heroism or determination? Not at all.
Here are some thoughts from Emily about her character in Inspiration:
“…it’s refreshing getting to play a character that doesn’t follow the typical ‘damsel in distress’ template. Most movies involving a woman dealing with a breakup also include a lot of crying and feeling sorry for herself, then trying to change who she is to prove her worth to a man. Sam focuses on herself by diving into her career and when the shit hits the fan, she takes action. She doesn’t wait for a knight in shining armour. She makes a few questionable/ballsy choices – but it’s nice seeing them being made by a female for once!” ~ Emily Alatalo
Home Away is a film (we call it a capri, because it’s too long for a short, but too short… you get it) starring Antonio Cayonne, Kathryn Aboya, and Jenna Jade Rain. It’s the story of a man seeing his life played out before him and his inability to escape it. To make matters worse, the only person that really knows him, his wife, is unreachable.
Ultimately she must decide if and how to lead him from the mess he may have made of his life, if she can stomach the hurt of it all. Antonio is absolutely awesome in this piece, but in keeping with this blog, let me focus specifically on Kathryn’s character. Here is a woman who could justifiably walk away from the calamity this man may have wrought on both of them. Instead she opens a door to which ONLY she has a key and navigates some of the deepest pain a person could feel. It’s a selfless act, and is both beautiful and unnerving to watch.
Here’s a bit of what Kathryn had to say about her character in Home Away:
“I felt a metamorphosis take place throughout the filming and it was beautiful yet devastating to experience. To look at yourself in the mirror and realize there is nothing technically ‘wrong’ with you but you can’t actually entice your loved one any longer is simply the most depressing thing in the world. You lose hope, dignity, and your desire for life is squashed. It is the most consuming feeling and takes away all joy from your life.” ~ Kathryn Aboya
The way these two brilliant actors interpreted and shaped their characters is mesmerizing and the end result? Interesting and HONEST female characters.
SKG Films is working hard to tell great stories and powerful, complex, multi-faceted female characters are a very important part of that.
Do you have a project with honest and interesting female characters going on? Do you have a killer story about women levelling the playing film-making playing field? Tell us about it in the comments.