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!)