One of my favorite leisure activities is curling up on the couch and getting engrossed in a great movie. A well-written cinematic masterpiece—heck, even a lighthearted chick flick—can leave me spellbound. Women have long been featured on the silver screen, but did you know the first female film director was breaking ground in cinema way back in the 1890s? Working as a secretary for a still-photography company near Paris, Alice Guy-Blaché stayed on when the company was remodeled as a motion-picture company—the first and oldest in the world—and soon began her pioneering career as a filmmaker. During the next 25 years, Alice directed, produced, wrote and managed more than 700 movies. Of course, it wasn’t until 2010 when a female director—Kathryn Bigelow—won the Academy Award for Best Director, and she’s still the only woman to have been honored with that award. What’s the secret to recognizing more women in film? It starts with each of us actively seeking out and watching movies made by women. Bonus points if the film features more than one actress!
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: $1 Billion
Now that you have a great excuse to settle in for a fun movie tonight, let’s take a look at how much our money speaks volumes in the film world. Walt Disney Pictures’ new live-action version of the classic Beauty and the Beast featuring feminist Emma Watson has quickly become a box-office smash, grossing more than $1 billion worldwide—and counting! It turns out filmgoers enjoy a little female empowerment in their movies. As Emma herself says, “Women and girls have always faced hurdles, but that’s never stopped us!”
WOMAN TO WATCH: Rainy Kerwin, Filmmaker and Founder of It’s Raining Films
So, you want to support women in film but don’t know where to start. I say kick off your women-in-film binge with my recommendation of a fantastic film virtuoso: Rainy Kerwin. With the goal of entertaining, inspiring and empowering, Rainy, an award-winning filmmaker, wears just about all the hats possible in the film biz. She’s a producer, director, writer and actor, and the founder of a female-focused production company that specializes in feature-length movies called It’s Raining Films.
As a longtime film professional, Rainy has dealt with some major Hollywood boys’ club nonsense, particularly when it comes to funding her film projects. But resilient and passionate about her work, Rainy has always persevered—and brazenly stuck to her feminist philosophy in the face of blatant Hollywood sexism.
For example, her new romantic-comedy, The Wedding Invitation, featured an all-female crew, a rarity in Hollywood. Rainy says it was her “effort to make a small dent in the gender-parity gap that plagues” the film industry. But investors weren’t exactly chomping at the bit to hand over cash for a movie made by and starring women. Whatevs! Rainy made the movie anyway, crowdfunding more than $70,000, which then made investors raise their eyebrows and take interest. She’s even donating 5 percent of the film’s net profits to 10 women’s charities and organizations.
As a director, Rainy has worked with more than 1,000 actors, and her scripts were shortlisted for the Meryl Streep Women in Film Lab. She also earned a half-million-dollar grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.
After you check out Rainy’s awesome film career, head over to her other website, BuyWomen.com, to learn about more films written and directed by women. From Little Miss Sunshine to Selma, you might be surprised how many of your favorite movies were led by some seriously talented boss ladies.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Today’s quote comes from Director Kathryn Bigelow:
“If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender and I refuse to stop making movies.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.