Happy International Women’s Day!
This morning the inboxes from my various email addresses were flooded with headlines and articles regarding International Women’s Day. I’ve been thinking leading up to it how cool it is to be in Los Angeles for this special day, commemorating women’s rights. Although, when I woke up, I wasn’t sure why that would be. I didn’t have specific plans to do anything to celebrate ‘women’. I mean, it isn’t as though we had a big organized march or protest. I didn’t have a brunch planned with a group of ‘besties’. I didn’t put together a sit-in outside a politician’s office who votes against equality for women. I’m not doing anything in particular.
Then I realized why I am so glad to be in L.A. for International Women’s Day…because last year I wasn’t here.
I’m not sure what I was doing 365 days ago. However, I am certain I wasn’t sitting in a coffee shop across from the Directors Guild of America recalling what an inspiring night I’d had the evening before listening to a panel of prominent directors and writers including Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya; Lars and the Real Girl), Angela Robinson (Professor Marston and the Wonder Women), Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Battle of the Sexes; Little Miss Sunshine), Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. O.J. Simpson; Ed Wood) as I am right now.
A year ago, I wasn’t in California looking for a tribe of filmmakers whose films, through hard work and collaboration, we can bring to fruition and to the silver screen.
I hadn’t met the fabulous women who in the short time I’ve been here have shared their experiences with me, and who have offered suggestions for avenues I might wish to pursue, and who I might even end up collaborating on a project with. No particular plans at the moment, but things evolve!
As a matter of fact, it was wonderful last night when at the reception after the panel discussion I bumped into a woman who I met at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Viewing Party I attended last Saturday. We hadn’t a chance to speak much then, but yesterday we found out we don’t live far from each other. And the woman she was with is fairly close as well, so the three of us are going to get together and learn more about each other and our projects.
Inch by inch!
Also after the panel last night, I introduced myself to Valerie Faris and told her how much I absolutely love Little Miss Sunshine. The topic of the panel was Real Life vs. Reel Life. I shared with Valerie a story of a phone call I received from my mother in 2006. We were talking about other things when my mother asked if I’d seen a certain movie. She went on to say how much she thought it was ridiculous and so unreal. ‘Those things don’t happen’ and ‘people don’t behave that way’.
She was talking about Little Miss Sunshine. I laughed out loud. Indeed I had seen it, and the hilarious thing was, I’d seen it several times and enjoyed it because I related to it in so many ways. I shared this with Valerie because it very much supported the ongoing conversation about when making a movie based on a real life person or events, that everyone has a different perspective of ‘real’.
Valerie laughed and I handed her my card and let her know I am looking for work. Yes, I stood and spoke with the co-director of one of my favorite movies and gave her my contact information.
I wasn’t doing that last year on International Women’s Day.
Another director I was fortunate to see in person since I’ve been in La-La Land is the amazing Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time; Queen Sugar; Selma). So inspired as I listened to her speak and share her experiences, I only looked away once to write down something she said:
“Make a film like a girl.”
Wow. That spoke right to me like a message in a bottle arriving, floating at my feet.
My personal inspiration comes from telling women’s stories. That is my ‘wheelhouse’. Yet, for some reason, sometimes I find myself reluctant to express that publicly. There is the concern that I might be passed over for an opportunity if someone considers me to be in a different niche.
Additionally, most projects I’ve worked on, other than my own, have been headed up by men, and I’ve garnered some fantastic experience from them. Yet, when it comes time to shooting my own films, I see a difference in my approach. For instance, even before Frances McDormand’s encouraging speech, I knew I wanted to have inclusion riders.
However, what I am saying, I think, is that sometimes I hold back from being a ‘woman’. I shy away from who I am.
The ‘feminine’ in me has so often in the past been criticized as a weakness, there is fear no one will want to hire me, or I will be considered inept if I behave like myself.
In the audience of some people I meet, I am even hesitant to mention I’m a director and writer because I am afraid they will start using some advanced lingo and I’ll be outed as an amateur. A poseur. I’ll have set back women’s rights by 50 years.
A few times I’ve noticed as I left my apartment, though I’d like to wear a dress or skirt, I put on pants. If I happen to meet anyone that day who would be looking to hire, I want to make sure they see I’m capable of working on a crew, the thought being that wearing jeans or activewear makes me look ‘stronger’. On the flipside that would mean a dress makes me look weaker.
How am I ever going to find my tribe if I am not flying my ‘colors’?
Though it might not be a huge contribution to the U.N. or other women around the world, as a woman, I think a way to honor International Women’s Day is to honor myself. And I decided it doesn’t have to be in a special, huge gesture.
One little thing that can make a difference for me.
I’ve been thinking about changing my blog banner photo for awhile to something depicting the direction of my life now. The other was complacent. And though it’s fun–wearing a dress and sitting by the river with a glass of champagne–my life now isn’t about lounging demurely, I’m up and running–like a girl. The old picture is gone. That is one thing I am choosing, today, to embrace being me. The woman, the girl, and the balance of sometimes masculine.
Tonight I’ll wear a dress and have a glass of champagne or wine in Hollywood with a new woman friend and watch Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time. Like the LA woman I am.