Show Of Hands: Yet Another Depressing Infographic, Anyone?

Sorry if this graphic renders huge but, hey, it`s worth seeing. In glorious, depressing detail.

The shocker for me was that Lena Dunham was the first woman honored by the DGA. It`s the 21st century and, really, this is just happening now. Really?

Bright side:  It`s great to be inspired by women who are really at the top of their game. Especially Ava DuVernay. I had a chance to hear her speak at TIFF this past year. She is awesome. All the women listed here are doing amazing and inspiring work. There`s lots out there to get inspired by. That`s the good news. So let`s focus on that for the moment.

Thanks to the New York Film Academy.

New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film
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My Favourite Screenwriter (That You Might Not Have Heard Of) Emily Blake

While avoiding other work, I was looking for something to read. I came across this.

Full disclosure: I was one of the 30-odd people who got coverage from Emily this year. I`d never met her, but the coverage for a good cause idea was something I wanted to get behind. (She did it for puppies, people! Puppies!)

Her coverage was incredible. The absolute best that I got from anywhere, and I paid A TON of monies to A TON of people for coverage (I`m assuming most people did not help puppies with my monies. Just guessing). I agreed with pretty much everything she said. I wrung a great rewrite out of her notes that got the script in question into the hands of some interested producer-folk. I hope I thanked her profusely enough (…but I doubt that I did. I feel like I should at least add her to my xmas card list. Or send her cookies. Or something.)

Her post is a couple of months old now, but I found myself thinking back and wondering if I (because the world revolves around me, obviously) was one of the people who did the thing with the characters that she referenced that a LOT of writers did. I definitely didn`t do it consciously, but I really wanted to write a very male script with that story- very much a one-hander. Though the female characters are important to the plot (and not bimbos in any sense), the lead male was the most important thing in the universe to me as I wrote it. And maybe that comes through in the work. Maybe I was sloppy and am now making excuses for myself. I dunno.

I haven`t looked at that script in a while, with my head buried in other things, but I hope I didn`t do the thing that I`m always railing on people not to do. But maybe I did. Maybe this whole blog is just a really long apology…

But the one thing I really wanted to say that stood out about Emily`s notes was that she was one of the few people who didn`t question the veracity of the female supporting characters in the narrative. I got a lot of notes questioning why these women were so alpha or a-type or strong or, maybe, even one reader might have used the word bitch or bitchy… I don`t recall specifically (I got A LOT of coverage on that script, no joke). But there was a lot of whys in my head about that question reoccurring.

I just kept thinking well, why can`t women fight for their families without being called names or branded with labels? When a family member is threatened, do all women just need to just cry and go to bed? (Yes, movie that shall remain nameless, I`m looking with disappointment at you.)

But Emily had none of that. She totally got it. And I`ll forever be grateful. In short, Emily Blake rocks. You can read more of her blog-a-liciousness at bambookillers.com.

 

Why I Love Emma Thompson, Explained In One Paragraph

From The Hollywood Reporter`s Actress Roundtable

Are there roles you won’t play?

THOMPSON: Well, apart from the muff shot and things like that — but let’s not go there (laughter) — there was a patch of time when I was in my 30s and just started [being offered] a whole string of roles that basically involved saying to a man, “Please don’t go and do that brave thing. Don’t! No, no, no, no, no!” That’s a trope, the stock woman who says, “Don’t do the brave thing.” I said no to all of them. I’m so proud.

The first step to solving a problem is admitting the problem. There it is. Now let`s all start to fix it.

Smaller screens are, sometimes, just smaller screens

I am from a small town that’s fairly… remote. I moved away in my teens and lived away for a long time. Nowadays, I’m trying to focus more on family, so I’m here more often than I have been since I was a kid.

Some great advice I’d gotten from Michael Hauge right as I embarked on my screenwriting adventure was to see two new movies a week. (It’s great advice for anyone, but essential if you want to do this for work.) Anyone can watch two movies a week! Movies are pricey- especially in Canada- but if most of your entertainment budget is two movies a week, go nuts, right? I’ve traveled a lot and, unglamorous as it sounds, I’ll often spend at least a little downtime in a theatre wherever I go, so I’ve been able to make that schedule work in the many months since I dedicated myself to it.

Everywhere, of course, except when I’m in my hometown. And it’s about to get worse. For everyone.

I’m not nostalgic for this theatre. This isn’t a theatre I grew up with. It was opened in the year 2000, I believe. And it’s dreadful. Just trying to see movies there this year has been a non-stop parade of crazy problems, bad service and a location in total chaos and disrepair. Literally, at least two or three times a month, something at this theatre went horribly wrong. I started a personal boycott of the place after “technical issues” ruined a marathon viewing of The World’s End (and the one chance I had to see it with my dad too! Jerks! If you’re spending at least $50 a week someplace, they should be able to do their jobs a majority of the time, don’t you think?)

Given its poor reputation, I’d rather see the whole thing close down, but that would leave a total lack of a movie theatre for about a hundred miles in this country (the actual closest theatre is a Carmike Cinema, which is located clear in another country, FYI).

And this oh-so-minor upheaval has caused me to wonder two things:

1-Is that insane, that the next closest theatre to where I grew up in my own country is a hundred miles away?

and

2-Would not having a theatre at all have any effect on these crazy kids here today?

If there hadn’t been one lonely screen (which maybe expanded to three screens) here when I was a kid, I would have lost my mind. Sure, there was VHS (Look it up! It was really a thing once!). But a movie theatre did, and still, represents to me a license to dream. Maybe those crazy kids today have video games and streaming entertainment and the internet so much that it doesn’t occur to them that there are barriers to imagination. I hope that’s true. I hope it will always be true.

Show Of Hands: Who Wants To See Another Depressing Infographic?

You do? Well take a look at this.

It’s really interesting and well-done. Now, take a gander in the lower left corner. I’m referring to this:

The 300 scripts sampled were written by 270 male writers, 22 female writers and 8 mixed-gender duos.

I’d like to say this is a surprise but, hey, this blog is called The Twelve Percent for a reason…

I really don’t know what the root of this can be. Is it the collaborative effort? Is it the formatting restriction? Is it the length and depth of the narrative? Is it a lack of participation in the feedback process?

Seriously, where the ladies at? Anyone?

What The What oh That Thing About Sarah Silverman

Does this headline tell you anything?

Sarah Silverman’s Bad Career Move: Being as Dirty as the Guys

Sigh. It’s not going away, is it? Subtle discrimination and lowered expectations are alive and well, as illustrated in Variety this very morning. Witness this quote regarding Sarah Silverman:

“Despite all manner of career-friendly gifts – from her looks to solid acting chops – she’s limited herself by appearing determined to prove she can be as dirty and distasteful as the boys …”

The article goes on to ask why she’s making fun of rape and make a wish kids and the Seaward – which are all valid questions. After all, comedians are doing their job when they best hold up a mirror to society and make us question thoughts, actions and behaviours. If that’s what a comedian is doing, whether I approve of their message or not, it’s all good to me. It’s fair to question these things.

So… Let’s take a moment and go back to the comment above. Remember a while back when the whole rape joke thing came out against Tosh.0 or whatever that guy is called? (Full disclosure- neither of these folks are my favourite comedians, so feel free to correct me on anything that doesn’t seem right…) I read a lot about the incident, and I don’t recall one reference to whether or not Tosh was handsome/smarmy/smarmsome. He was a guy doing a job, and people either agreed with him or they didn’t.

When male comedians get written up, there’s often a reference to whatever funny looking traits the men have, but it’s generally not the second sentence of the article. And the writeups generally aren’t as condescending as this one is. I think the “Aww sweetie, leave that to the boys” tone is maybe not entirely intentional, but that’s how it reads. So, um, not sure why that’s OK to publish in a legit publication…?

Regardless, I wish all the luck to Sarah Silverman with her new special. She’s gonna need it, as it’s obvious that talent isn’t quite enough for you to make it if you’re just a lady in the business of funny…

The More Things Change

Another day, another remake/reboot/sequel/prequel gets the green light.

For example, at 10:22 am on November 18th, Variety’s Jon Weisman takes the stance that originals are still outpacing remakes and that work gets remade for stage often, so why not in film and TV? A fairly short, but level insight into the process, cleverly titled In Defense of the Offense of Remakes

… Of course, that balance all comes crashing down just about an hour later, when Variety also exclusively reports that someone somewhere is producing a sequel to It’s A Wonderful Life.

Kaboom.

In fact, a lot of the remakes/reboots/sequels/prequels that people buzz about seem to be things no one has ever asked for. For example, I’ve never heard a single person say “I really think someone should remake Point Break!” Why? Because Point Break is a perfect movie. Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze? Perfect. Bank robbing presidents? Done. Running and jumping and surfing and skydiving? Totally. Nothing anyone could do to it could possibly make it better.*

(*Except maybe Edgar Wright. He made Point Break the slightest shade of different-as-better and called it Hot Fuzz. But, apparently, that’s still not good enough…)

The argument could be made that, when a great filmmaker has an interesting take on existing work, why shouldn’t they take a shot at putting their own stamp on it?

As for the Wonderful Life sequel, there was what appears to be a trailer released for this project (found on The Film Stage) where the voiceover (after the part about it being in 3D) includes this nugget:

“…George Bailey’s grandson is forever changed (when) his Aunt Zuzu comes back as an angel and shows him how much better the world would have been had he never been born…”

Now… now wait just a minute… Is this some dark take on the angel tale? Is someone planning to take the Bailey clan down the dark path the great Frank Capra himself traveled in post-war america? Will probing questions about HUAC shape the narrative? Or will this be an exploration of Capra’s own disillusionment about films and the commercial interests that he rallied against?

Or was that just an error in the voiceover?

Either way, surely there will be more depressing remake/reboot/sequel/prequel again tomorrow. Le sigh.

Shakespeare Sunday… Once more

How many comedians have a Shakespeare-related joke in their set? Hopefully lots, but I have only ever heard of one.

His name is Eddie Izzard. (The joke involves what would happen if Henry V had an untrustworthy voice. Lets just say it doesn’t end well…)

I couldn’t find the bit online just yet (but the show with it in – Force Majeure – will be out on DVD shortly) so I’m linking instead to a very groovy interview between Eddie and Canada’s boyfriend George Stroumboulopoulos. More on Shakespeare and on Eddie (separately) later… But for now, just enjoy.

Announcing The Death of the Album.. Blah Blah Groan

…  I have no other words for this.

First, some points of fact: I’m not defending Katy Perry. I don’t care about Katy Perry’s music. I haven’t heard the album in question.

But, a better point is that I don’t know who Bob Lefsetz is. Judging by his picture, he didn’t grow out of the ground just yesterday, but rather he gives hard-hitting analysis of the music industry.

Um, sir? May I point out that you are part of the problem you outline above?

Because, even though music has been around forever, the “music industry” is relatively new – maybe a century old? And whole chunks of the industry exist only because people want to make money off the backs of talent instead of getting a real job. Let’s be upfront about that.

For example, there’s no art in the business of iTunes- just nerds who figured out how to skim off the backs of the people who are doing the work at the lowest possible price where they make the most possible profit. Yeah, I said it. Am I wrong?

I know from experience there are people in and around the industry who are passionate and who care about music and spreading the word of newly-discovered musical genius. But, I also know I’m not a fucking idiot. Those people brimming with passion are few and far between. There’s also a whole class of… let’s call them “people”, for the sake of this point, who want only to keep sucking at their music-funded money teet. Not surprisingly, those teets, they are-a-changin.

What has not changed is that the “music business” has always been a singles business. Even though our collective attention spans seemed to be tiny compared to days we remember only from magazine adverts and Mad Men, we have been more culturally in-tune with the 3 1/2 minute pop single than just about anything musical for the whole of the last 100 years.

But, keep in mind, that for many music is something that kids listen to, or that others enjoy, or that you put on while doing the dishes. A PASSIVE consumption of music is taken by the vast majority of people who are living, and have lived, on earth over the past century. The album was only ever treasured and collected and coveted and prized and ACTIVELY SOUGHT by the smallest segment of people on earth. That has been true since the album existed. A million apologies if album sales are not making “people” rich like they did in the 70s (if then).

So, just because someone is dumb enough to pay you to write a “grumpy old man says get off my lawn” column about music, please don’t start sounding the alarm as if the album has been THE gold standard for the age and is now endangered. The era you think you remember never happened in popular culture. It happened in your record store. It happened in Almost Famous. It happened in your mind. Mostly.

And, hey, I’m not picking on your ancient-ness. I’m old. So old, in fact, that if this were Roman times, I’d certainly have been dead a while. The last new songs I enjoyed were by Eminem (Rick Rubin!) and Arcade Fire (David Bowie!) (Ahem).

Of course, all artists now sell fewer albums because people steal more music than ever before in history. We’re now on the second generation of people who thinks artists don’t deserve a living from their work. (Napster kids now have kids. Yup, keep chewing your knuckles.) I’m going to guess their thievery digs much further into the bottom line more than single sales do. Or anything else.

Are there future rock stars? No, probably not. The era is probably as close to over as it has ever been. But it also means some of the leeches will wither up and die. In short, albums don’t work anymore because they never really did. Circle of life, man… So at least we know Elton John is still getting paid.

Women In Comedy – Let’s Be Awful

From the pages of Variety:

Women in Comedy: ‘Let’s Be Awful,’ Says Screenwriter Dana Fox

The awfulness in question here, of course, is basically code for “Women can be three-dimentional too!” Which should, of course, be shouted from rooftops. Often.

I don’t know about you, but it felt like a panel of unicorns sitting around discussing rainbows. It’s awesome to witness.

Fox had a pretty simple message that applies to a lot of writers:

“Nobody’s getting jobs anymore, you have to support each other”

I think Dana Fox is my new hero. Watch. And enjoy.