V48 Hours: Women filmmakers working together?


I’m a convert: V48 Hours is FUN. This year, I was marginally involved with two teams that had women directors and producers: Loaded Gunn (Francesca Jago) and Squidwig (Rebecca Barnes). And loved watching Francesca and Rebecca at work, each very different in style but each quite similar in their focus on doing the best work possible and their care for their casts and crews, all with boundless enthusiasm.

And the heats were fun too, in a crowded Readings cinema. And the discussion boards and Facebook page. And then the Wellington final. The Embassy Theatre almost full with excited people, there for screening of the twelve finalists plus The Best Incredibly Strange Film (formerly known as The Best Worst Film, won this year by Crane Style for Daemon, a Horror). Lots of applause and celebration, hugs from every prizewinner for Dan Slevin, the amazing Wellington co-ordinator and emcee for the night. Laurie Wright from the gin joints team that made Intervention, a Horror written by Gavin McGibbon—won the Wellington WIFT/Gaylene Preston Best Film by a Woman award, which she also won in 2008. Many congratulations to her!

But, as last year, I wondered “Where are the women”? This is so much a team-oriented event that it’s impossible to be certain about any demographic details. But far fewer women than men participate on the V48 discussion boards and in the V48 Facebook comments. And during the finals I took notes as we went, and a woman was a co-writer in just one of the finalist films, and Laurie Wright was the only woman director. When various teams went to collect their awards and their hugs, the proportion of women in the groups onstage was very low. Even the audience seemed over two-thirds men. I’m thrilled that there’s such a stunning creative sport available for them and loved witnessing and sharing their enjoyment. But.

The evening started late, because of a special Bridesmaids preview, one of the Embassy’s Chick at the Flicks showings. My mate and I watched the women leaving that screening, goodie carrier bags in hand, lots and lots of them. Do most of us really just prefer to watch movies, rather than to make them? Even though that means we miss a whole lot of fun?

I have a feeling that women who do participate in V48 do so mostly as producers, in wardrobe and makeup, and as actors, the same areas where they participate most strongly in the film community as a whole. If the V48 does reflect the film industry, at a micro-level, could an increase in women’s V48 participation as writers and directors—the storytellers—help increase our participation in the industry as a whole? What would help more of us become involved in this risk-free and fun event? Do we need something more than fun and possible awards—for the WIFT/Gaylene Preston Best Film by a Woman and the New Zealand Film Commission’s National Best All Female Team? What would make participation attractive to us? Do we need a goodie bag or two for every woman who participates?

I’ve thought a lot about women working together lately and the environments where we do and don't support one another. And a few weeks back, Francesca, who won the 2010 WIFT/Gaylene Preston Best Film by a Woman, agreed to talk with me about one aspect of V48, the All Female Team award. At the moment, to qualify for an All Female Team, only the writer, producer and director must be women, so a team can qualify even if the everyone in the crew is male, except the writer, producer and director.

Here’s the interview. A big big thank you to Francesca for agreeing to be interviewed and for doing the editing and uploading. I’d love this to start more conversations about V48 and women, especially women working together in key roles.

(This year, sadly, Team Loaded Gunn missed the V48 hand-in deadline by half an hour. But they’ll be back! Squidwig won the Audience Vote for its heat, and was a finalist for the Best Makeup award. They'll be back, too!)

Comments

  1. Hi, I too am a female director / writer / producer / camera operator / etc... and know how hard it is to get the "guys" jobs. I couldn't view the interview you did with Francesca due to technical difficulties ( ! ) But will try again later. I'm Franc Bol from team Knawtra in ChCh and I won ChCh's "Best Female Director" Perhaps WIFT would consider helping us female directors to get together sometime for a gathering of minds... francbol1@yahoo.co.uk

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  2. Hi Franc. Thanks very much for this response. Lovely to hear from you. And congratulations on Best Female Director for Christchurch!

    What a great idea to get together. Maybe 48Hours, the other guilds, and the NZFC might also recognise how valuable that would be, and could help too.

    And I'd love to know more about your experience with the 'guys' jobs. Maybe you could do a wee video interview too, about what V48 and filmmaking generally mean for you? And anything you'd like to respond to in Fran's interview? (& let me know if you continue to have difficulties viewing it, in case it's something we can fix? )

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  3. hi wellywood woman. nice interview!!

    I was surprised to hear that the "all female team" rules do not actually mean ALL. I must admit I didn't even read the rules for that because I knew how difficult it would be to get an all female team in Christchurch. Hmmm perhaps I met the criteria afterall (must have a read in a minute). I discussed the idea of an ALL women crew many years ago, funny enough when I was working on a film in ChCh. Nothing against my talented male colleagues, but I think an all-woman team could not-only create visionary films, but I believe an all woman team would function most efficiently as well. If you ever hear of a producer that wants an ALL woman crew I'd be VERY keen to be involved :)

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  4. Thank you for the mention and the link. We were stoked to be acknowledged by WIFT and to be a Wellington finalist in this year's 48 hour Competition.

    I also just thought (just in terms of other females in the finals) I'd mention that Ruth Korver and her Electric Pink Company team joined forces with Traces of Nut this year - their team made the finals as well and she was co-director on that.... I felt that film definitely had her style all over it - it was a great mix of strengths from both teams I thought.

    Anyway thanks for the support! and here is the link to our film Intervention: Enjoy

    Cheers
    Laurie

    http://www.v48hours.co.nz/screening-room/2011/wellington/intervention/

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  5. Thanks Franc, I'll pass on your info wherever I can! And thanks Laurie. I really enjoyed the Traces of Nut/ Electric Pink Company's "Ruby Red", thought it was beautiful, and it's good to learn about the reason behind the team's name as well as about Ruth as co-director.

    Here are the national finalists for WIFT Best Director & Best All Female Team
    $500 cash prize courtesy of the lovely Gaylene Preston & $500 cash prize courtesy of NZFC
    SCC Unicorns "Do you swing that way" — Rom Com
    Hollywood Playground "Dirt" — Crime
    The Antipodeans "Lost in Gardening" — Rom Com
    Toyboat Toyboat "Ezra" — Superhero
    gin joints "Intervention" — Horror
    Hard and Fast "Back Pay" — Revenge Movie

    Would love to know more about these teams and their writers, directors, and producers.

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  6. I was surprised that the national finals decided to combine the two separate categories of WIFT Best Director and Best All Female Team. This has meant that as a woman I am now eliminated from being National WIFT Best Director. Kinda rude! In fact what should have been TWO separate awards specifically for women is now just ONE "Female" award. Does anyone know WHY?

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  7. From FB, here's one response: It seems to be more than they just put the All-Girl Team regional winners up for the combined award, rather than anyone being "ineligible". I think Christchurch was the only city to award them separately in any case (based what I can glean from the forums).

    And there was only one award in Welly, have just checked. I agree with you Franc. It's unfair to reduce the number of awards after advertising two of them. And it's interesting to me that it seems to be the New Zealand Film Commission award that's been dropped AND that was the one for the all-women team, not the one for best director.

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  8. Still totally confused about the prize issue, twenty-four hours later. But send every good wish to everyone involved! Especially to you Franc.

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  9. I'm a female, but I enter 48 hours with a team that I like to work with... I prefer to do that than be limited to making an all-girl team or making my team from scratch so I could direct. I don't think there's any magical answer to getting more females to enter - if they want to, they will.

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  10. Marijke van SchaardenburgJuly 2, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    Hey, I'm actually the director of SCCUNICORNS who won Best All Female Team this year. You would have heard us screaming at the Grand Final. And yes, the V48 Hours is fun, the weekend was absolutely defining for me. In regards to the whole mediocre undertones of the 'female award' sort of category out there today. You see it in most competitions lets be honest. Unfortunately in this day and age people feel a need for it, because some assholes still don't get that women are just as good as men and that puts us at a disposition.
    In relation to V48, well the SCC in SCCUNICORNS stands for St Cuthbert’s College. I'm a member of the communications committee there and I take media studies + media scholarship get involved wherever I can in the school that is film related etc. etc. And I put the idea of entering the competition forward to the rest of my committee at the beginning of the year and they digged it. Being an all girls school naturally we ended up with an all female team. None of us, not even our teacher who mentored us all along the way had made a short film before, let alone one in 48 hours. We had only studied them in class as we were leading up to making ones ourselves (a task which has come and gone already now). Even now I've never won an award at school for media studies despite how passionate I am about film, how much effort I put into my work etc. because I go to a school where every student is a highly talented young women and I have come to terms with it and continued to push myself. So despite its mediocre undertones, I am hugely grateful to the V48 hours teams for having an award like Best All Female Team. It’s the first real recognition I've ever got in the field I am passionate about and I hope to go on to spend my life in. None of us were over the age of 18 when we made our short, so even more so for us it feels a major achievement that may influence our life to follow. I certainly can’t wait to put it on my testimonial this year. I hope it’s the start of a successful career, I don’t recall who it was but someone said to me; if your still passionate about film, after something like the V48 hours, then chances are you’ll be passionate about it for the rest of your life. And its true, cos that was a fucking intense weekend, didn’t sleep a wink and the whole time I was in heaven (except for the tense moments of exporting the file and putting it on the USB). Next year I don’t see myself being in an all girl team because I will probably be working with fellow Auckland Uni students. But I do hope that the Best All Female Team and Best Female Director awards stay to be honest, so that other young women can get the recognition they deserve and just be inspired by the whole experience. Yeah, haha hope I haven’t talked you to sleep or nothing.

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  11. So Laurie Wright won Best Female Director, and SCCUNICORNS won Best All Female Team. Congratulations all round! (And because I'm a scriptwriter, congratulations too to my PhD mate Gavin McGibbon, who wrote the script for Laurie's film "Intervention" and gave her a strong basis to work from.)

    Thank you very much for your comments, Anonymous and Marijke. It's truly wonderful to read the various viewpoints, here and on the V48Hours FB page (https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/home.php?sk=group_6181139345).

    Let's hope that there'll be some ongoing and rigorous discussion about women at V48Hours, and that the discussion leads to action that will encourage more women to WANT to participate, including the provision of more transparency than there is now. Why? Because the competition appears to have become a more significant element on the route to NZFC funding, where historically women's participation has also been problematic. There are all kinds of things that can be done to attract us. If you're wondering what they might be, see http://wellywoodwoman.blogspot.com/2011/03/media-convergence-mofilm-strategies.html for some suggestions (I'd love to hear about more ideas). If MOFILM can do it, so can V48Hours!

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  12. Good blog: You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned:) makeup artist Sydney

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  13. Thank you, Kylie. Are you suggesting more video interviews? I'd love to do more, but don't have the resources. Anyway, a warm welcome to you, love it that you will stay tuned.

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