By Livia de Paolis | Women and Hollywood May 30, 2014 at 4:13PM
"There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." - Madeleine Albright
And even more so when it comes to making movies.
My first feature film, Emoticon ;), tells the story of Elena, an anthropology graduate student struggling to complete her thesis on "modern means of communication," and the impact that her relationship with her boyfriend's teenage kids has on her professional and personal life. Ultimately, the movie is a reflection on the digital age and how it's affecting us as we look at the nature of families, motherhood, and finding love in unexpected places.
The story is clearly told from a female point of view since, with the exception of my DP, the entire core of the creative team of this independent, ultra-low-budget movie is made up of passionate gals who don't mind working really hard for very long stretches of time. The nearly-all-female crew came together quite organically. I had known my co-writer Sarah Nerboso for a few years, as we had worked together at the Ontological Hysteric Theater in Manhattan. I also had known Danelle Eliav (who courageously became the producer) for a while, as we both had done work for Labyrinth Theater Company in New York City.
Editor Vanessa Abbot and composer Lindsay Marcus came on board because they connected with the material and they wanted to participate in telling that story. Finally, I wasn't a bit surprised when a woman, Shaun Hill, picked it up for distribution. I think the script was already addressing themes that are prevalently shared by women, and it is only natural that with the creative contribution of the editor and the composer, we are definitely bringing to the screen a very female tale.
I've come to really appreciate working with women. I've noticed that while guys tend to tell you they have it under control and there is no problem at all, no matter what the issue might be, women tend to be more cautious and more honest about how the work is going to get done. This type of honesty very often results in work that is accurately and carefully executed.
A certain type of masculine assertiveness results in more jobs for guys because they seem to be more in control of the situation and therefore somehow more worthy of trust. This is an illusion rooted only in the different ways in which men and women communicate their abilities and skills.
I have been so happy to meet a lot of women that offered great support while making this movie, but it saddens me to admit that I also have experienced a lot of bullying from women in this field. This ultimately got me to reflect upon the fact that competition amongst women is in no way getting us closer to a world where more stories are told from a female point of view.
I understand there are currently very few opportunities for women in this field and we all want to get those few opportunities. However, the focus should shift from competing for those few available spots to making a real effort to create a new paradigm where more female voices are heard. While I do wish for more jobs for women in this industry, we should be striving toward a radical change in the way stories are currently told, as the paradigm of content creation is still prevalently dictated by a masculine way of thinking.
Women should challenge that model by adopting an attitude of radical cooperation and to really help each other in every way we can. By adopting such an attitude, we can easily create more jobs for women in film and get closer to a world where women's perspectives are heard, in a more effectively way, by everybody.
Emoticon ;) will be released on May 30 by Indican Pictures, at Cinema Village in NY and Laemmle's Music Hall in LA.