I’m excited to be a filmmaker at this time in history, when women are working to lift each other up and gender disparity is being discussed in a big way. The first step in fixing a problem is by shouting it from the rooftops, and I’m extremely proud to be part of the solution.
I’ve spent most of my life wanting, desiring, actually craving to be someone other than myself. It’s a difficult statement to make, yet completely true. Other women were changing the world, and while I was bringing up three amazing children, the rest of me felt hollow and unsatisfied. In the end I’m not sure if it was my belief that I had nothing important to offer the world or if it was simply fear, the enemy of all things good.
Honestly, it annoys the shit out of me that I spent 52 years living that way, but the reason I mention it is that anyone can get past this kind of self-sabotaging crap and become the badass woman they always wanted to be no matter their age or lingering childhood issues.
I have had a lifelong love affair with movies, and at 53 I took a huge leap of faith and started Soul Kiss Films, a production company dedicated to making evocative, compelling, and entertaining movies by, for, and about women. I had no experience making films, but it’s the only career I could even imagine doing for the rest of my life. The decision came after many months of painful self-reflection and the realization that I would still be hollow 30 years from then if I didn’t make a radical move.
At that point I wanted to do something that would make me happy, but of course it turned into so much more than that. Five feature-length films later, I find myself now much more concerned with my audience, with the next generation of female filmmakers, and with the rampant inequality that goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood and beyond.
The opportunities for women are dismal, to say the least, and statistics show they’re not getting any better. Gay, bisexual, or trans women and/or women of color are barely on the radar. This is seriously fucked up, and the only way things are going to change is if each woman takes matters into her own hands and wields her mighty sword of power (once she finds it). We can’t all be Shonda Rhimes, but we can sure as heck do our best to serve the communities we’re part of to make a difference that begins a ripple that will become a full-blown wave of change.
I do realize we have many allies out there — amazing men like Joss Whedon who create vibrant, well-rounded female characters — and companies like Vimeo, which launched its “Share the Screen” initiative at Sundance this year to support emerging female voices in film. I’m honored to say that my new movie, Ava’s Impossible Things, is the first project to receive an investment from their female filmmaking fund. Another staunch ally is Outfest Los Angeles, an LGBT festival that this year programmed 62 female-directed projects — I’m so proud to be one of them — and I believe that number will keep on growing through the sheer determination of voices that will do just about anything to be heard.
This is really the key — no matter what, women need to tell their stories. In the age of digital media and easy-access online platforms there is absolutely no reason not to. You can create an incredible film on your smartphone, edit it on your laptop, enter festivals, and self-release. It’s up to you where your story goes, and small films can become your stepping stone to the next level. You have to really want it, though. I tell young women all the time that you have to need it because it’s a difficult world to live in every day. It’s incredibly satisfying and gives me so much joy, but it’s also so much more difficult than I ever imagined. There are days I feel I’m scaling a mountain using my fingernails. I’m happy to say that even the challenging times provide an education. I just tuck those lessons away and use them on the next project. Because there will be one.
By the way, shouting from the rooftops works for solutions as well, so I say now in a very loud voice, EVERY WOMAN WHO USES HER POWER TO CREATE CHANGE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Small-scale, large-scale, it all matters. As a woman who didn’t find her power until recently, I implore you to do everything you can to find your inner strength and help the women around you find theirs. This is a community effort powered by the individual voices of every woman who wants to make a difference.