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More Lynne Ramsay News

News
by Melissa Silverstein
March 22, 2013 12:36 PM
3 Comments
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As expected, the initial reports of the Lynne Ramsay departure from Jane Got a Gun were very sketchy.  More details are coming out, among them the important detail that Ramsay did not just NOT show up for work, she had actually quit over the weekend when terms and budgets and schedules were not agreed to.  

It also says that Natalie Portman was not informed of Ramsay's departure over the weekend.  Isn't she one of the producers?  Why wouldn't they inform her in that capacity?  When Ramsay opted out, because there are opt outs when terms are not met, the other producers hiding from Portman, went about getting another director.  When Monday arrived with no Ramsay, the shit hit the fan and a story need to be created.

So Ramsay became fickle and difficult.  And people like to heap on this film the fact that she left The Lovely Bones.  My understanding from speaking with her is that she was pushed off The Lovely Bones once Peter Jackson wanted to direct it.  She worked for years developing it and then was told sorry, Peter wants to do it, goodbye.  So let's not put these two films in the same category.

I wish we lived in a world with rational people who won't extrapolate and use this unfortunate situation to hold it over other women directors heads.  No matter where the truth lies, it is something that the folks who don't want to hire women will use as a stick maybe saying something like "I hope you don't pull a Lynne Ramsay" or some other shit similar to that.

But language matters a lot.  And putting pejorative terms onto women is something done really easily and those terms stick.  How about bossy?  How about difficult?  Both are code words for shutting women down.

We might talk about these issues on Women and Hollywood all the time, but there are very few others, especially men, who try to unpack the gender baggage on these issues.

My new hero is Calum Marsh a Toronto-based film critic and columnist for Film.com, MUBI and Slant Magazine.  He wrote a post on film.com yesterday Lynne Ramsay, and Why We Need to Talk About How We Talk About Female Directors -- which I want you all to read -- and he deserves a lot of credit for taking on this topic.  Here's a section from his post:

The point is not to what degree Lynne Ramsay is culpable in this case—not that it’s really the purview of bloggers to decide what is or is not ethical on a movie set anyway—but the degree to which our discussion of Lynne Ramsay's actions, and in particular actions perceived to be damaging to her career, is steeped in the language of sexism and oppression, even if quite unintentionally. This story's lede is not "female director causes drama"; it shouldn’t even be "female director leaves job". We don’t tend to say "male director leaves job" in cases where this happens with men, so why bother with the gendered dimension here?

I asked him why he wanted to take this on and this was his response:

I wanted to write about this piece of news not because it interests me, but because the attitudes and biases its coverage reflects very much does. Talking about film can be quite esoteric, which makes people, and especially men, hesitant or even unwilling to think about the language we use in a broader way, to think about the realities which inform the language of criticism and reporting and to maybe question what it is we're saying even when we don't intend to. 

I've seen dozens of responses, exclusively from men, insisting that I'm reading too much into the situation, or that "drama" is not a gendered word in this context. Someone on twitter told me that I'm "full of shit" for assuming that this story even has a gender dimension. It's baffling to me that men can be so passionate about defending the status quo even in the most seemingly simple matters. 

Part of the issue again is that we still live in the world where Lynne Ramsay even getting the gig is a big deal.  She and all women at her level are highly scrutinized.  That doesn't mean she should stay in a sucky situation so that the people who still don't want to hire women won't have any more ammunition.  These people get their ammunition from anywhere and everywhere.

For me, I'm sad for Lynne Ramsay.  I want to see more of her movies.  Her people will have to figure out how to get a story out there that will make sure that this won't hinder her next project.  Because that would be the great tragedy of this ridiculously unfortunate clusterfuck.

'Jane Got a Gun': Inside the Turmoil on Natalie Portman's Troubled Western (Hollywood Reporter)


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3 Comments

  • Sean Christiansen | March 27, 2013 2:28 PMReply

    Personally I don't care who works on a film. I do have my favorites but I am all for and have zero bias against women in any position. I believe these issues actually come from a content creator/writer who gives away many ideas, lyrics, teleplays , and scripts in the open over the Internet. He poses as a she sometimes to give a particular person a boost. Sometimes he uses a name that he thinks could be a good pseudonym only to find their is indeed someone already using that name. He is not a traditional writer in any sense but he has ideas about everything. There is no limit to his imagination. In any case I believe he might have given out a few script or tele play leads that were not complete yet. This could certainly cause some issues on a set when the "sitting" or "present" writer is not the guy who created those ideas. He doesn't mean any harm by it, on the contrary he is just trying to keep his favorites working even if he doesn't know their names at the time. He has done this for Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Anne Hathaway, and John Cusack just to name a few. Anyway he wants to see his preferred stars on screen and behind if it suits them. He says he does it because their are times when they just need it. You can call BS all you want but the truth is he has done this for free. Just something to think about. Someone should recognize this summarized statement. Get four stars together and they can front the money or represent money interests. To further cut costs of making an independent movie you can use local talent and rent everything from a "RED" camera to everyone behind the scenes. Think Zombie producer. Think Sunland-Tujunga. Oh and Natalie thanks for signing my Star Wars DVD cover. I said it was for my daughter but it's really for me. I suspect you knew that. She will eventually get it anyway. To the sound guy it's still not for sale. "The real world is very much a "Matrix" where the real truth is obscured no mater how much you think you know the truth."-Sean Christiansen

  • Jan Lisa Huttner | March 26, 2013 12:23 PMReply

    Good for you, Kurskij. And three cheers for Calum Marsh. To win this fight we really need "men of conscience" to speak up!

  • Kurskij | March 22, 2013 4:35 PMReply

    Calum and Melissa raise a great point (coming from a male here): it really is not about defending or condemning Lynne Ramsey's actions.

    It's about the angle in which the media (deadline.com included) chose to portray it. Right away, without bothering to wait for details.

    I'm not defending mrs. Ramsey, nor am I taking sides with mr. Steindorff. But the "gender angle" embraced by the media and commenters (or most of the media and commenters) does seem quite dirty.

    It's a tricky situation, but does it matter that there's a woman director at the centre of it? No. No one brings up that Steindorff is a male. Keep it to the point.

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