Hillary Crosley Says What We Are All Thinking (AKA WE ARE NOT IDIOTS)

Forgive me if this sounds a bit all over the place, but I’m still recovering from reading this:

Hollywood Promises Female Director forExpendaBelles, Hires Man

And, admittedly, that is not shocking. Not even a little. Happens all the time. I’m still working my way to the WTF??!!!!!??? part.

Oh. Here it is! A Synopsis:

When America’s Navy SEALs are wiped out trying to penetrate the island lair of a deadly despot who has captured one of the world’s top nuclear scientists, it becomes clear that there is no such thing as the right man for the job and that this is a mission so impossible that only women can handle it. The only way in: some of the world’s deadliest female operatives must pose as high-class call-girls shipped in by private plane to satisfy a dictator–and instead save the scientist and the day.

Oh. Wow.

The plot of the ExpendaBelles (which is a classy enough title alone, let’s face it) has the kick-ass heroes posing AS HIGH-CLASS CALL GIRLS. Folks, the shitty run-on sentence in the middle of that shit idea DOES NOT HELP IT. AT ALL.

WE CAN STILL SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING. WE ARE NOT IDIOTS.

Ask yourself- has a hero male in an action flick EVER posed as a prostitute? LITERALLY, EVER!? DID I MISS SOMETHING?!

You wanna know what’s wrong with women in movies. THIS. THIS IS IT. We can do better. We have to. We are half the population. We cannot seriously be spoon feeding this shit to our daughters, our sisters, our mothers. No more. Tired of it. Done.

Listen to @MysteryExec already. It’s time. Be The fucking Change.

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Happy List-Mass Everybody!

(Haha! GET IT? Because it`s holiday time and there are lots of lists… No? Why am I wasting my delectable puns on you then?)

Well, it is that time of year. Again. Both The Black List and The Hit List are out. And lots of other lists, I am sure… But lists make me tired and, after too many of them, I get rage-y. So, let`s just stick with these for the moment, shall we?

(For a detailed breakdown of The Black List stats, THR has a good-un.)

I haven`t really officially counted, and I certainly don`t have an infographic (I`m much more of a Venn Diagram girl, for anyone still looking to get me a gift!) but there are trends. There are always trends. For example: 

-Lots of overlap on both lists (but lots of change in rankings from list to list)

-Lots of women on the lists are already employed on TV and a couple have been Nicholl Fellows (high fives all around)

-Lots of the writers have some kind of representation (I would say all of them do but, again, no hard numbers)

-Lots of the scripts are by established (and well-represented) writers, and a few have appeared on said lists in previous years 

-Lots of horror, sci-fi, thrillers and dying children (not necessarily all together… or separate)

-Lots of bios (two on Mister Rogers alone?!) and based on true stories (so, so many)

-Lots of the loglines for these are terrible (so, so terrible)

But have you noticed that some of these points seem to go against advice that`s perpetuated quite often to young writers? Including:

-If you write a great script, Hollywood will find it (apparently, representation needs to find you first)

-Don`t chase trends (Based-on-true stories seem to always be ranked so high on these lists, so wouldn`t writing a biopic generally give you a better chance at getting industry attention?)

-You need a great logline to pitch your script (Apparently that`s not true. At all.)

And so on.

Also, and I do hate to have to say this, but not a ton of ladies on the list…

Which brings up the age-old question- It is because of fewer scripts written or a lesser-quality of scripts submitted? Either way, it sucks. And it needs to change.

So, let`s all work on it. Let`s all try and Be The Change in 2014. Always quality over quantity but, yeah, let`s work on quantity too.

 

Aline Brosh McKenna on Scriptnotes and Gender Issues in Screenwriting

I love Scriptnotes. I`ve said it before and I`ll keep saying it- Scriptnotes is one of the most positive screenwriting resources I`ve found, and I rely on it (and on John August`s website in general) a whole lot.

And, even with all that love, I just caught up with last week`s must-hear episode on Positive Moviegoing.

(Read the full transcript or listen to episode 119.)

Aline Brosh McKenna has proved to be a great guest on the podcast (this was her fourth appearance). The trio covered a myriad of topics surrounding Positive Moviegoing, and it`s Aline who brings up the disparity in numbers of women working as screenwriters (if you`re listening, it comes up around the 59 minute mark).

Three very different (and very interesting) theories emerge:

John August – I wonder if culturally we have a different expectation about men in their 20s, it’s expected that you are broke, and you are sleeping on couches, and that your life is a disaster, but you’re doing all that stuff and so eventually you’re going to break through. And we perceive a woman who is doing that as being a failure.” 

I really identify with this idea. I think there is, still, a cultural expectation that women are expected to only be doing certain things with their time. Or wanting certain things, even. For myself, as I slogged through the ups and downs of being a professional writer in my 20s, I was practically surrounded by girls who seemed to care most about who they were dating or how lovely they could make their homes look. Honestly, I knew few women who identified themselves with anything even remotely resembling ambition for their own lives. And practically none who were willing to sacrifice relationships and home comforts to achieve any kind of dream they might have had that was their own. I have heard more than one woman say something like – Oh, I would love to take time out to write. After I`m married and I have a couple of kids, I`ll stay home and do that.

Wait, what?  Writing is not a hobby, or an abstract idea, or even a particularly strange way for a lady to make a living. Writing is a vocation. Some people work hard and sacrifice to make it a real job for themselves. I have never understood why women. generally, don`t always seem to take it seriously. I`ve honestly never heard of a man who says he`s going to wait until he`s married and has a couple of kids to start writing. I`m going to guess that he just writes.

Craig MazinI wonder if this is something in terms of the gender thing that women are trained by the world around them, if not by their parents, to not aggressively go after what they want because they themselves have an inherent desirability. That they are instructed to essentially play hard to get and to let things come to them.” 

Interesting. I kind of agree with this as well. Society really rewards women for very specific things, and desirability (as Craig so eloquently put it) it number one on the list with a bullet. So, if you focus your energy on making yourself desirable, or even likeable in some cases, that`s time and energy you`re taking out of your life. Poof, it`s gone, and you can`t spend it on other things. I think it`s fairly culturally obvious that women spend far more time worrying about being likeable than men do. And, as we all know deep down, the only way you can get ahead in anything is not listen to the haters. There will always be haters.

Aline Brosh McKenna – “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why there aren’t more female screenwriters and I think it’s this aspect of being an entrepreneur. You are really running a small business which is you. And you have to put yourself out there every day and wear your sandwich board of like, “I’m interesting. You’re going to listen to me.” And I think that women are attracted to things where they can demonstrate excellence in a somewhat prescribed fashion. That’s why women are killing men in colleges and graduate schools. But screenwriting is not like that.” 

… I think that it’s not a thing that we encourage women to do from childhood is to really say like, “I’m interesting…” 

“… it takes a leap of faith and a confidence in yourself to say, yeah, I’m a writer, I have something to say. Because essentially what you do as a writer is you say, “Listen to me.” 

“… what I didn’t know is you’ve got to have the goods, be good at what you do, serve that apprenticeship of becoming good at what you do, but you also have to say, “My point of view is valuable. Listen to me. I have something to say.”

But what I would say is if you’re trying to get into Hollywood screenwriting, which is a more Mandarin, closed system, you have to bet on yourself.”

I included a lot of what Aline had to say because, really, I think she`s landed on something that could (and should) be one of the great solutions. The equalizer.

It`s true for everyone, of course- you have to believe that what you have to say has value in order to say it. But that`s virtually impossible when you start out with little (or no) faith in yourself. If your society, culture, family and friends are all telling you that your value is limited (or even nonexistent) your voice is going to have to be loud enough, and faith in yourself strong enough, that you can drown out every bit of noise that comes at you.

And you know what? It can`t be done. Not every minute of every day. No matter how much support you have. At some point, someone is going to call one of your female characters a bitch and you are going to get bummed out, lie on the couch, eat Chicago Mix and not shower for a couple of days. And you know what else? That`s OK. Giving yourself permission to write is giving yourself permission to fail. So, when you`re ready to dust off the crumbs and start again, everything really will be OK. I promise.

Thanks to John, Craig and Aline for letting us listen in. (And thanks to Stuart for typing it all up!)

 

 

Capturing The Damsel

When I started delving into screenwriting about 18 months ago, Tuesday quickly became one of my favourite days of the week. And, every Tuesday still, we are gifted with a new episode of Scriptnotes.

Last Tuesday’s episode deals with the weirdness of the Austin Film Festival (I mean, I know Austin is supposed to be weird but the AFF was truly weird. For me, at least. Though I added to that weirdness, I am very sure.) and the goodness of T-Bone Burnett (who makes a very valid and relevant point that should be paid attention to…).

But the bulk of episode 116 is devoted to discussion of the death of Damseling. The call for change starts around the 14 minute mark. Much like the rest of us, though August and Mazin are incredibly great at their jobs, they don’t have a solution to retire this old chestnut for good. But at least they’re calling it out and talking about changes in their own work. Or, John August so eloquently puts it:

“It’s simple, it’s lovely, but it may not be the right choice.”