Put It On The Record

By far, the best thing that happened today was reading Ryan Coogler’s (writer/director of Creed) comments to Variety reporter, Kris Tapley, about women filmmakers.

Coog:  I really feel like, you know — this is off the record — I feel like women are better filmmakers than men.

Tapley:  You really don’t want that on the record?

Coog:  Yes, you can put that on the record.

Tabley:  I think you should put that on the record. It’s a powerful thing to say.

Coog:  Put it on the record. I mean, it’s true, bro. In film school, life, whatever, they’re equipped to do this job, in many ways, better than us. They’re infinitely more complex than we are. Stronger and sharper. So, you know, we’re going to get better movies [if we have more female filmmakers]. The industry would improve. That’s the best thing I could say about that. They’ve got to be given the opportunity.

I got to know Ryan while at USC.  He was a year ahead of me, in Michael’s group. Coog (as he is called) and I were mentored by the same professors in the most competitive production class of our program.  (So competitive I wanted to vomit nearly every day. Ha) Coog made Fruitvale, I made Haven’s Point and Michael made In Captivity.  To be able to direct in this class is next to impossible.  Only the top 1% get a shot.

Coog’s heart is as big as his ambition.  He’s a truth seeker, which, in my opinion, is why he’s a great filmmaker.

Men who’ve been raised by good mothers see the soul of a human being, not their race or gender. Coog must have been raised by a great mother.

I usually don’t like talking about the “female director” thing, and I’ll probably bow out of most discussions, but today I will say this:

The lack of female directors has become such a hyper-sensitive issue that the focus has, in many ways, made the progress more difficult.  Yes, we’ve made some great strides recently but not in the direction I think we want to be in long term. I know that’s a strong opinion to have, especially coming from someone who is in the battle everyday, but believe me when I say, in many instances, the scab that keeps getting picked at is becoming so raw that many of those in position of power are forgetting to look at talent, and are now hiring blindly to check a box. I fear that in our eagerness to fix the problem, we are not creating a long term solution. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the attention to our craft and think all of it’s a major gain on the female scorecard. I just think –

The focus needs to be about the work.

Producers, I say to you, find the truth. Dig for it. Don’t be lazy when hiring. Be thorough and exhaustive. Find the BEST steward over your story. Just like a perfect match exists for two lonely people, a perfect match exists for your project. Read and watch everything your potential director has made, find their “why,” and most of all, interview AT LEAST thirty contenders. Always be on the look out for the diamond in the rough, but don’t be sucked into a good look or mysterious gaze and think that means they’re a true auteur. The proof is in the pudding!  And if they don’t have a ton of it, then they’re probably not ready.  So keep digging and keep them on your list for the next round.

That’s it.

Do that and the playing field will level out. You will have done your part for the cause.

And my dear filmmaking ladies, may I be blunt?

Do STELLAR work. Drop the mediocrity. Be your own judge, your biggest critic. Observe audiences reactions and adjust. Don’t be lazy. Go the extra distance. Practice what you preach, hire the best artist for the job and not your best friend. Be obsessive over the story. Protect it. Just because you have a vagina doesn’t mean you get an automatic pat on the back! Be competitive. Filmmaking is a sport so pull up your big girl panties and be ready to compete everyday, all day. Granted, your growth is about getting out there and practicing, and making mistakes, but make sure you’re making the best mistakes possible!  Get rid of any crutches you’ve been leaning on. Take your time to live, breath, and love. Be real with yourself and whatever you do, and most of all, don’t be a martyr.

Do this and nothing less my fellow femme fatals, and the opportunities in our future will be that much greater, especially for the next generation!

Thanks Coog.  You did a great thing by putting this on the record.

xx,

AEJ

PS, I love words

Martyr – a person who displays or exaggerates their discomfort or distress in order to obtain sympathy or admiration: a constant sufferer

Creed – a set of beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions

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