#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – Moving Up the Ladder

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How do you meet people with money or influence or power in the industry ? Everyone I know is broke and everyone I meet at networking events and parties is at my same level. I feel like I can’t move past the stair level I’m on right now no matter how many events I attend or how many classes I try to take. – Rayne

I think this is a really good question that we don’t ask enough because it feels a little skeezy to ask.  All the more reason to get some straight talk! And the answer here is:

You (probably) don’t meet people with more influence. You meet people where you are and you work with them. You offer your collaboration and expertise and do the work. Someone in that group will get staffed on a show. Someone will win an indie film fest award. Someone will book a huge editing job and need an assistant. Someone…

You get the idea. Build your tribe. Work hard, work smart, and be kind; those people will remember you and will reach out to you as they (and you) move up these stair levels. 

Don’t worry about meeting the “right” people because that’s an absolutely impossible battle. You will never position yourself correctly to meet everyone you think is “right”. Also… you never know who is right. You never know who will blow up. So I think it’s a much better return on your time to simply find who  you like, cultivate those relationships, and continue to do good work.

I personally find no value in “networking events”. There are way too many people all trying to make better contacts and that’s not the kind of relationship I find sustainable in this industry; I want to meet people I love working with. Think about it: you’re on set for 16, 18 hours a day. Who do you want with you in those trenches? Someone you enjoy or someone you think can propel your career? For me, 100%, it’s the former; if nothing else, because people are way more interested in THEIR careers than yours. 

So to sum up: don’t worry about your stair level. Keep doing good work, keep asking questions, and you will move forward. 

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#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – Top Day Jobs for Actors & Writers

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#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – A Jerk Speaks

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fwiw, I do not remember this at all but 2014 Kate sure had some good foresight.

I barely know what to even title this one. But I wanted to share with you guys an actual example of the way I, personally, have been spoken to in pursuit of this industry and this job and touch on a few reasons why I think it happens this way.

First, though, I want you to just CONSIDER: would I have been spoken to this way if I were a man? Just think about it. There’s no real answer. But any time you see an example of this kind of behavior, it’s a good question to consider. And then hold the knowledge that even if the answer is, yeah, probably, the REACTION from a man to that kind of letter is going to be wholly different; he doesn’t usually have to think, oh shit, will this guy hunt me down? will this guy doxx me? will this guy harm me in some way? And let that inform any and all interactions and responses from there.

I think this boils down to one concept. Entitlement. Men are entitled to a woman’s time, men are entitled to an “acceptable” response from a woman, and people are entitled to an artist’s time.

makes me want to tear my hair out

I would wager filmmaking isn’t the only time the first two come up. Every time a woman is asked to do a little extra work or any time a woman doesn’t respond with a sufficient number of exclamation points, she’s facing a really sexist roadblock. If you’re a woman, I challenge you to make a tiny tweak this upcoming week: don’t add qualifiers to any emails. No exclamation points, no smilies, no “Sorry to bother”s, no dumbing yourself down. I’m guilty of this kind of behavior too, so I’m going to give it a try this week as well & report back on Twitter. Let me know how yours goes!

Let’s talk about the third: the belief that “you” are entitled to an artist’s time and attention. I’m using you very broadly, to mean simply: a fan (or a patron or whatever). Very shortly, you aren’t. No one is. No one is entitled to anyone else’s time or attention, regardless of money spent. I think generally speaking we WANT to give fans our time and attention because we know that someone bought that ticket and they believe in us and it’s important to say thanks, but on no planet does that mean we HAVE to take time out of our lives and our work to make you feel special. As access to your favorite artists gets easier and easier, it’s really important to give them the respect you would hope they’d give you.

And if you’re an artist? Draw your line. Build a wall and protect your little artist self from demands on your time, your energy, your THOUGHTS, and your livelihood. Our job is hard enough and it’s already nigh impossible to keep the real world from intruding on our little corner of creativity so figure out where you need to press pause and make that very, very clear.

What about you? Have you ever dealt with this level of rudeness from people in your workplace? How did you handle it?

#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – Patron Exclusive, Dissect the Script

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#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – On Set Stress!

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What’s the best way you have found to handle the stress that pops up while filming? – Jairo

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Stressing out while filming is inevitable. The most important thing you can do is DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE but even then – a lot of money is on the line and you don’t want to mess up. So while you’re doing your best on set, it’s really important to keep a cool head. Doubly so for women, really, because you have the added pressure of “not being a bitch”. 

First, I think it’s really important to keep in mind that you and your crew all want the same thing. You want to make a good movie. And generally speaking, people don’t make a good anything if they’re worried about stressing out their boss. The second thing I keep in mind is forgiveness: forgive yourself if you do crack, forgive people if they mess up. Kindness, forgiveness. Third, especially if you’re making a movie, this time on set is a gift and it ends. Even if you hate everything about the work on that piece, your job here will end. It’s not worth the meltdowns because it just doesn’t last that long.

It’s a very hard job to “put away” when you go home at night no matter what stage of production you’re in and sometimes you just CANNOT put up clear boundaries, but when and where you are able to, do so. Tell your partners: I don’t work after X time, make it clear. The more clear you can be, the easier it is to stick to your personal needs. 

So – to sum up: be forgiving, be kind, and defend yourself and your needs. 

What is Patronage + Site Tour

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#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – Taking Advantage of Loved Ones

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What can you do to network and hone skills without COMPLETELY taking advantage of friends and family?— Meg

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Let’s do this as a LISTICLE. Also known as a fucking list. 

  1. Take classes, take classes, take classes. You are a work in progress, always. You have things to learn, forever. So get your ass in a class. I’m currently taking voice lessons, horseback riding lessons, and scene study once a week. I also do workshops periodically for direct feedback from casting directors (I aim for 2-4 a month). I’ve previously maxed out improv at UCB, done comedy study and scene study with a whole LOT of teachers in LA, worked on different methods / styles of acting, and probably a lot more I’m forgetting. Don’t shirk. Do the work.
  2. Make your own stuff. You learn so much by grabbing a camera and pointing it, so do that. Photography helps hone your eye, so practice that too. You aren’t taking advantage of anyone if they want to help! 
  3. Grab books from the library about every disciple of filmmaking you might touch. If you want to be a director, you need to learn about acting, writing, editing, cinematography, etc. If you want to edit, you need to learn about acting, writing, IMPROV AND COMEDY for pacing. If you want… You get the idea. Study it all. Know who everyone else is and what they do, that way you can talk to them in their terms. 
  4. Shadow people. Find a mentor, even if it’s online, and try to connect once a month or so. Get their feedback; if you can show them work, do it. 
  5. Find an online community. Stareable has wonderful forums that are available for people to connect, ask questions, and learn. 
  6. Balance yourself. Allow yourself to be more than just filmmaking too. Have other interests that overlap with your friends’ and family’s interests. This is one piece of you, not the whole thing! Make your balance and protect that.

#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – How to Handle Stress (on set or off)

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#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – Special Oscar Edition… What Are You Wearing?

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What’s your take on the controversy over whether to ask women what/who they’re wearing in red carpet interviews?

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I think there need to be other questions asked in addition to “who are you wearing”. 

The question comes from a relationship that actors / talent / Hollywood has with designers; designers provide these expensive garments for free for the exposure and the name dropping. It’s an old relationship that Hollywood has used for years and years; it’s not for me to say whether or not I agree with it, it is what it is. 

However.

who cares who we’re wearing!

It is exclusively women who are reduced to questions about their appearance. Men rarely, if ever, have to field “who are you wearing” questions because their persona does not revolve around their appearance. And that’s fucked up. 

Red carpets interviewers receive limited time — sometimes very limited. Stars are ushered from stop to stop and bigger outlets receive more face to face time with bigger stars. So “who are you wearing” tends to be the first question because it’s part of the wardrobe deal — the talent needs to name drop. They need time to do that. If you don’t get it out fast, you’ve missed an opportunity to do your job and if the interviewer doesn’t ask, odds are that the next awards show that celeb is going to be ushered right by that news outlet by her publicist. See the problem?

I personally don’t mind asking about an ensemble; for centuries, women have been limited in their self expression to their dress (if that, in some cultures & places) and fashion absolutely has artistic merit. It is not MY personal art form, but I can appreciate it. But “Who designed this” should be followed by “what do you like about it” or “what drew you to this”… and then (call me radical) THE WORK THE WOMAN ACTUALLY DOES. Or a book she’s reading. Or, or, or. Don’t just pan up & down her body and call it an interview. 

#FemaleFilmmakerFriday – Battle of the Writers

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I suppose it does happen that the director and screenwriter are two different people? In such case, is the writer required on set, or is his job limited to just the writing? — Spidernana93

The director and writer are VERY OFTEN not the same person. And this question has two completely different answers based on whether we are talking about film or television. The golden rule is:

On a film set, the director is king. The writers are either not invited / allowed on set at all or they aren’t really giving much feedback. Their job, at that point, is done. 

On a television set, the writer is king. Writers, on TV shows, are also producers (after a certain level), which means their word is …not law, because they have bosses too, but you get the idea. A TV director is a hired hand and he absolutely has a lot of say in a lot of things, but at the end of the day, Writer = Producer = Big Cheese.

As film & tv get blurrier and blurrier, I imagine there will be a shift, if there hasn’t already been. I think TV writers will start to expect more of a say in film and film directors doing episodes of TV will want more authority over their sets. Years ago, film & tv didn’t really mingle; it was really hard for a TV actor to “make the jump” to film. Big directors didn’t take the step down to work television. But now… everything’s different. I think right now it’s still a “big get” for a television show to invite a film director on, but I don’t think that will be the case forever. TV is big money and it’s prestigious now, so there is ever more competition. I’m curious to see how this winds up shaking out!

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