Lincoln freed the slaves, and 100 years later Martin Luther King called on Americans to rectify the unjust practices directed against people of color. Since the 1970s, though, who speaks forcefully in defense of women’s right to co-decide the diverse, multi-layered image of women to be presented in film and on television?
I’m happy that the Golden Globes was enlivened by the humor of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler; that a woman, Jodie Foster, was honored for her body of film work, and that the ode to a misfit, “Girls,” earned its awards. I’m less ecstatic that the number of woman-directed films leaped from 7 to 9 percent this year. It’s still an appallingly low figure.
As a member of the New York Women in Film and Television, I know there are creative, tenacious talented females with a rich variety of tales to tell that are not necessarily propelled by the pleasure of murder, maiming, and revenge. Though two of my best buds have written horror scripts, they also write complex, suspenseful psychological dramas and playful comedies.
They are equally skilled at directing and producing. But the connective tissues between these talents and obtaining financing for their projects are as they say in medicine, a target of pathology.
We network, socialize, join professional groups, tramp to film festivals and attend male-dominated finance panels. What my friends and I don’t have is access to resources that can green light our projects. We don’t have “name” directors who drive investors into finance heaven. At time it seems our tenacity is for spinning wheels.
Being a solution-oriented person, I nurture a vision over the years of equalizing the playing field through a utopian partnership with financially able investors. It would begin by preparing women to learn how to operate in a networking setting. Sort of like LBJ in the Senate. We’d learn the equivalent of “Howdy,” a powerful handshake, subtle bullying and comments on the cigar’s quality.
A Meet and Mingle event would be in an oxymoronic leisurely speed-dating format where after 15 minutes of learning about each other, people would switch groups to encounter a new herd of potential pardners. Business cards would be exchanged, luncheon dates would be set, it would lead to a lift-off for the projects written, directed or produced by the gender that predominates in this country but doesn’t have its equitable presence in the governing, business, or entertainment realms.
Upon leaving, rather than the frivolous goody bags filled with commercial make-up samples or snack bars we receive from even the most serious benefit luncheons, there would be a thick directory of film synopses written by women.
When I’ve brought up my vision to people, they say that the money people don’t want to be found out. The successful filmmakers want to preserve their Sugar Daddies and Mommas. Call me naïve, but I still believe while men may be our friends, it will take women with resources, financiers, philanthropists, producers, businesswomen to help other women.
No progress can be made without preparing for the future by offering girls and young women opportunities to learn through education, mentoring and interning, like goldsmiths in the 1500s. Successful directors and producers would generously share with us the secrets of their breakthroughs with Wall Street, philanthropists and show-biz hungry dentists.
In my ideal world, big brothers wouldn’t be permitted to bully little sisters. Boys, too, would be educated to respect the opposite sex’s right to be equal. They’d learn some of that notion through the films on the screen, 50 percent of which will be created by women.
I can dream, can’t I?