For my enterprise story I chose to write about women in the film industry because, as a woman looking to be a filmmaker, I feel passionate about the changes taking place in the industry in the wake of movements like #MeToo and #Time’sUp which are finally drawing public attention to the issue of inequality and sexism in film.
This past semester I took a film course called Woman Directors that had a huge impact on the way I think about film, particularly when it comes to defying common tropes in film writing. In this class I was introduced to the concept of “The patriarchal language of film,” which includes not only the literal language we use to talk about films but also the assumptions about how a film is written, directed, shot, and performed and the gender inequality behind the camera as well as in front of it. I interviewed the professor who teaches this class, Dr. Sarah Sinwell, for this piece because she introduced me to new ways of thinking about film and the roles women play in building the collective narrative of film and media. Her ideas on the importance of finding ways to include and value diverse voices in filmmaking, especially when they don’t adhere to the traditional cinematic structural ideals, helped me to frame my understanding of where I wanted to go with this story.
In particular she emphasized that different institutions have different values when it comes to filmmakers and there is a difference in promoting equality in, for example, the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Institute. When films are awarded at the festival it is based on their merits as a film within its category, they aren’t necessarily focused on who made the films, though some festivals have mission statements like Sundance’s that value diversity and try to promote equality. The Sundance Institute, however, recognizes that much of the actual inequality of opportunity occurs before a film is even submitted to a festival during the process of finding funding and support for the actual creation of the film and so has created programs specifically to aid female filmmakers. With this distinction in mind I was able to better focus on the actual source of the problems I wanted to address and better frame my questions for future interviews.
Read the story here.