by Connie Clarkson
In January of this year, I got the opportunity to go to the Palm Springs Film Festival with my aunt in Palm Springs, CA. I immediately grabbed the chance to go to a big fancy party and see stars that I love seeing on shows and movies. I remember getting all dressed up and walking into this giant dark room with twinkling lights and tables and of course walking down the red carpet. The entire experience was memorable for sure. There were paparazzi and cameras flashing, and as we walked to our table and sat down, I remember feeling an overwhelming urge and feeling of happiness and confidence. The festival isn’t as big as the Oscars, Emmys, or the Golden Globes, but many of the winners such as Charlize Theron and Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and many others attended. I was just sitting there, listening to the stars give their speeches while swirling with a sense of wonder.
Ever since I was a young girl, I knew that I wanted to be in the film industry. Somehow, this dream came from watching movies and going to movie theatres a ton as a teenager. I became more interested in seeing how films were made. Later, my film teachers in high school and college helped me begin to see that breaking into the industry was not going to be easy.
I could sense that isn’t like other lines of work. But in all honesty, hard work and dedication are what drives the film industry. When Charlize Theron and Greta Gerwig went up and accepted their awards, I honestly wanted to cry. No joke.
Now, if you’re not a woman, sorry, you may not get this.
In general, being a woman is not the easiest thing, and we encounter a lot. We’re hormonal. We think too much. We’re obsessive. We cry at the most, seemingly random moments. And we love a good bottle of wine, (did someone say rosé?) Sadly though, sometimes, people use these as excuses to justify their behavior and actions. Obviously, these women have worked their butts off to get where they are now in Hollywood. I was thinking about all the criticism and setbacks that they must have gone through to get recognized and respected in their craft.
Recently, I talked to Kate Kaminski, an independent filmmaker based in Maine. Kaminski and Betsy Carson created Gitgo Productions, which has now produced and made hundreds of women-orientated films. “I could possibly be more respected and more acknowledged. That’s true,” said Kaminski, speaking about her experiences as a female director, as well as her take on gender equality and being a woman in the industry. The best way to break out of that stigma? By working with women, she suggested.
It’s no surprise that the film industry is mostly male-dominated. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego University, “Women made up 20% of behind-the-scenes roles on the top 100 domestic grossing films of 2019, a sharp uptick from 16% in 2018.” Now, of course, this has to do with multiple factors including pay percentages, opportunity offers, and of course diversity.
The notion of sexism in any line of work should never ever be tolerated, but when you’re working in literally a “man’s world”, it’s ten times harder to get appreciated and accepted for what you are doing. Martha Lauzen, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film says “Inequality reaches into every facet and corner of the business.” I believe it. Also, it’s not just the fact that women are less likely to get the green light on their films for producing, writing, and directing, but that they are less likely to get recognition from the films they actually make. You may not know this but, in 2019 the Hollywood Foreign Press Association faced backlash when they released the nominations for the best director category… it didn’t include a single women director. These institutions are made up of mostly, men who judge films based on certain criteria, though, in the recent past, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have exposed the injustices women in the film industry face.
This is appalling because in that year there were very strong contenders such as Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), and Olivia Wilde (Booksmart). The issue of not including a single woman director was disappointing, to say the least. It’s hard enough for women to be taken seriously in the film industry on top of discrimination, sexism, then add the fact that women of all races on average earn, just 82 cents for every $1 earned by men of all races. Kate mentioned that when she does her projects, she “feels completely 100% committed to 50% equity for a role.” I find that though there are injustices and discrimination in almost every industry, hope is not lost. Women and Hollywood appraised that:
- “The top 500 films of 2019, movies with at least one female director employed greater percentages of women writers, editors, cinematographers, and composers than films with exclusively male directors.”.
- In 2018, films with casts that were 21-30% minority enjoyed the highest median global box office receipts. In 2019, this honor went to films with casts that were 41-50% minority.
Hope is never lost when you love what you do. As an aspiring filmmaker and editor, I know that if I work hard and stay true to myself and my goals, I can make it and every other woman breaking into the film industry today. I asked Kate if she had any aspiring words of wisdom, she mentioned one of the best ways to promote your values and work, is to reach out and network. The more you talk and represent, the better chance, your voice will be heard, and you never know by who. Though the industry is tough, it’s rewarding, and when you make something worth telling and showing to the world, your work is never in vain. As women in the industry continue to grow and make films and tell stories that are beautiful and important, nothing can stop them. Go forwards, my fellow filmmakers, inspire, dream, network, push, perceiver, and take action.
If you’re interested in learning more about Kate Kaminski’s work check out her website, https://gitgoproductions.weebly.com, and if you’re also interested in exploring female-produced films check out CherryPicks, read and watch reviews on recent films, and articles.