This Crowd-Funding Campaign Perfectly Illustrates The Gender Bias Female Filmmakers Face

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If you’re at all concerned about the way female filmmakers are treated or represented in the film industry, you probably already know about the current ACLU investigation that is happening right now into the alleged discriminatory hiring practices of Hollywood studios toward female directors. The EEOC is part of the investigation and currently in the process of interviewing directors, such as ‘Twilight’s’ Catherine Hardwicke (who directed the first movie in the franchise and made it a multi-million dollar success but was famously dumped for the following films) in order to best determine the course of action.

But ‘s not just female directors, it’s also writers, producers and actresses. The New York Times recently published an in-depth piece titled ‘The Women of Hollywood Speak Out’.

“Female executives and filmmakers are ready to run studios and direct blockbuster pictures. What will it take to dismantle
the pervasive sexism that keeps them from doing it?” asked writer Maureen Dowd, who interviewed women in the industry like Rose McGowan, Geena Davis, Lake Bell, Shonda Rhimes and ‘Suffragette’ director Sarah Gavron, just to name a few.

With this article being just the latest in mainstream media focus on the industry’s treatment of female filmmakers, it’s not surprise it was a source of influence for two female filmmakers launching a crowd-funding campaign for their own feature film.

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Actress Aya Cash (‘Wolf of Wall Street’, ‘You’re The Worst’, ‘Begin Again’) and writer director Annabel Oakes (‘Sirens’, ‘Awkward’) have teamed up to create their own film called ‘All Exchanges Final’, starring Aya as Dom, a new mother whose life is upended when her older sister has an out-of-the-blue aneurysm. With only hours left before her sister will be removed from life support, Dom cannot figure out how to say goodbye. While trying to come up with the words, Dom is interrupted by doctors, nurses, and finally a bored bureaucrat from the S.E.R.A. (Soul Exchange and Restoration Administration) who hands Dom an application and asks if she is interested in trading any souls for that of the deceased.

Curious, she travels down to the sub-basement level offices of the S.E.R.A. with her five-month-old baby Pearl. There she meets other people wanting to trade souls for dying loved ones. In the supernaturally boring DMV-like waiting room of the S.E.R.A., Dom makes a decision. To trade her baby for her sister.

Annabel is the writer and director of the project, and together they are aiming to raise $55,350 on Seed & Spark, a crowd-funding platform specifically geared toward filmmakers, and which has the highest crowdfunding success rate in the business at 75%! (Also, it was created by female filmmaker Emily Best, just thought you should know).

Instead of just showing images from the film and giving potential donors a sneak preview of what to expect from the forthcoming ‘All Exchanges Final’ project, they decided to make pretty much the best campaign video ever by playing off the shocking fact that Annabel, being a woman, is directing and writing a film. Like, who does she even think she is?

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“[The] New York Times’ “The Women of Hollywood Speak Out” couldn’t be more relevant to us. When it came time to craft our Seed&Spark pitch video to raise funding for our upcoming film, ‘All Exchanges Final’, we chose instead to take the opportunity to illustrate just how embarrassingly bad the statistics on women working in Hollywood really are. It is our hope to call attention to the lack of female directors in the film industry,” said both of the women in their campaign.

In the video below, they reiterate just how ridiculous some of the gender bias is by listing a bunch of stupid excuses, too stupid to even be real, as to why women can’t be directors.

“I’m menstruating”

“I’m breastfeeding”

“My boobs are too big to frame a shot”

“I was going to, but then some guy wanted to do it more, so I was like ‘OK'”

“I can’t hear you I’m just doing these dishes”

That is just a snippet of the excuses included in the video.

“Ummm those seem like fake reasons,” comments Aya.

“They are, but the real reasons are fake too so we’ll just scroll them all while we indulge in some non-fat yoghurt like women do in those commercials,” replies Annabel.

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It’s hard not to laugh, but it’s also a bittersweet reminder that what some female directors face in terms of gender bias in the industry is very real. If you ever want to read some real excuses give to women, spend a bit of time perusing the Sh*t People To Women Directors Tumblr account.

So how do we help women like Aya and Annabel change the status quo? You can start by donating to their Seed&Spark campaign to get ‘All Exchanges Final’ funded and into production. On a wider scale, be conscious about supporting female-directed, written and produced films at the cinema, especially in the opening weekend which is what counts the most for a film. Support films that have a complex, strong, interesting but flawed female in the lead.

If we ever hope to see better representations of women on screen so that people like Sandra Bullock doesn’t have to scour the Hollywood studios and convince a producer to flip the gender of a lead character in a script just to find a good enough role for her to play, we as the audience can use the financial power we have to show Hollywood studios they have no legitimate reason any more to exclude female filmmakers from the same opportunities as men.

Hey Hollywood studio execs, we hope you’re watching this:


 

 

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