Monday, April 27, 2009

Twittering (cont'd) & Blogging; & A Parallel Universe for Women's Filmmaking

Twittering
I'm still uncertain about Twittering. I like sending little messages when I can't manage a full blog post. But other people's tweets frustrate me. What about cooktips' fondued leeks? What was he eating them with?  What's the best bread for his Sunday chicken and mayo sandwich? What about melsil's dog Duke? What does he look like? Do people in New York ever have big dogs? And what about all those voorgreen messages about Standing Woman? If I send emails every time I wonder at a tweet, I'll be emailing for ever.



But after many mentions of Standing Woman I couldn't stop myself. Who, I asked voorgreen (scriptwriting maven Linda Voorhees) is Standing Woman? Here's her response, with Standing Woman's photo above:
The Standing Woman is positioned in UCLA's Murphy Garden which has become the crown jewel of the campus.  She remains in vigil at the base of the footbridge, which means virtually every person who walks through campus must pass her.  She has become the Patron Saint of Screenwriters.  So when our writing students walk past her, they tap or touch her for luck.    It is a ritual of membership.  Only the writers do it. We think it gives us courage.  And we think she has deep and profound secrets to share with us.  
 
The Standing Woman was sculpted in the 30s by a French artist named Gaston Lechaise.  
Now how about that? Isn't Standing Woman gorgeous? I'll keep tweeting for more stories like this one!

Blogging; & A Parallel Universe for Women Filmmakers

As for the blogging, I'm still getting these lovely responses. And some nice serendipitous things. One of my favorite scriptwriters sent me a link to writer Stella Duffy's blog (I don't think he knows I'm blogging too.) Stella Duffy's The Room of Lost Things was long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize and won Stonewall Writer of the Year. I haven't read it but I love her Saz Martin crime series. Here she is on the maleness of the British BAFTA awards:

Yes, there were French & Saunders, and yes, there was a major award for Jane Tranter, but it isn’t really about the very few who stand out, is it? It’s so much more about the fact that at every level, but primarily at the level that MAKES DECISIONS, that BUYS WORK, that ACTUALLY EMPLOYS, the people making those decisions are men, blokes, male-identified-black-suit-(or kilt)-wearing chaps.

If every time a group of people get up to receive an award and 75-80% of those people standing up there are men, what does that say about the state of our film and tv industries? Does it say we are in a place of equality where women are as likely to be producing/creating work? I think not.

If the people who are producing and creating the work are men is it any wonder that they then employ men writers to write more work about men? What we know from publishing is that men readers prefer to read men writers and are primarily interested in male protagonists, while women readers will read both men and women, and will also engage with male protagonists (yes, there are always exceptions, this is though, what current statistics tell us) - I see no reason to assume that men producers/commissioning editors are any different to the rest of the male readership. And so it makes perfect sense that we see, time after time, men producers and then men writers associated with them.

And I love the comments that follow, including one from filmmaker Campbell, whose blog masthead reads: "When the lioness can tell her story, the hunter no longer controls the tale". WOW. 

Then there's Birds Eye View (aka BEV). They send out a great email full of useful stuff. And today's email encouraged me that the parallel universe of women's filmmaking is gathering in strength. Here's some of Rachel Millward's blog  about the statistics from the latest BEV festival, the fifth, which took place about a month before the BAFTAS, also in London. (That's Rachel in the middle of the pic at left, with Sally Hawkins and Gurinder Chadha,  with the opening night audience in the pic below.)
Audiences flocked to all events, nearly 11,000 of you altogether. Our box office stats show an average of around 90% capacity - the majority of events through festival week selling out. The average audience rating across all films and events was 4.5 out of 5. And, demonstrating fresh outreach, 83% of the audience were new to Birds Eye View this year, 98% said they would come again. This is a huge compliment to Birds Eye View, to the strength of our programming, the appeal of the brand and the success of our grass-roots marketing campaign. Three cheers to team BEV! It is also a huge vote of confidence in female talent. There is a clearly strong and ever-increasing market demand for a better balance of content on our screens.
From far away, on the other side of the world, I believe there's always been a demand for a better balance of content. In the past, the demand hasn't been heard. But activities like the ones BEV organises are making change. I hope that the influence of BEV's keen audience will affect what happens at the BAFTAS. Or, that in future what happens at the BAFTAS won’t matter, because the parallel universe of female talent has all the exposure it needs. 

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