When did you realise you would have to work ten, twenty, thirty times harder? When You Realise that being a woman in the film industry!
Rosalie Carn is the actress, director & producer of ‘The Flip Side,’ a short thriller exploring how celebrity and an identity crisis can lead to cold revenge. She thinks there’s still much work to do in the film industry in terms of gender equality. She, and many others, recognise that progress has been made but there are still steps that need to be taken, starting today. With an all-female cast and crew for her film, at her small level she contributes to creating opportunities for women in film and wants others to know that it is not only possible but it is crucial.
“First, what I noticed was the non-presence of women on sets. I was surprised by their absence. “ And even more surprising were the roles that the women did have. When I first entered film sets, I was amazed at how many women were in ‘assistant’ or ‘runners’ jobs and how many men were in decision-making positions.
What made me feel ill at ease sometimes was ‘the fierce competition’ between women; there was always a tense feeling. It felt as if this rivalry had only one goal, which was to look good in the eyes of the director or ‘decision maker.’ And what would happen is that there was a lot of sabotage.
For instance, one day I arrived on set and was told to wait in a certain area, while actually everyone was looking for me in a different area. One of the actresses heard about this, and told everyone that I was ‘late.’ And in reality, I wasn’t late! I was just doing what I was told. ‘Don’t make excuses if you’re late,’ she said. Wow! I felt like that was violent. And now I was ‘poor little Rosalie,’ who was unjustly judged.
But oddly enough, I also realised that most of the opportunities I got in my career were thanks to some very special women’s help and kindness. And that’s the irony — we could all benefit from mutual aid.
When did it strike me that being a woman was a disadvantage? There’s actually a joke by a French comic… Gad Elmaleh. ‘I will stop being scared on a plane when people stop applauding at landing.’ This is how I feel about that question.
As long as we treat it as ‘exceptional’ for a woman to be a filmmaker, there will be a problem.
When I saw that it’s seen as ‘big’ and ‘difficult’ to be a female filmmaker, that was when I knew I had to do it — in order to prove everyone wrong. I wanted to make being a female filmmaker natural.
There’s an aspect of the problem that we rarely speak about, which is that people think it’s only the woman’s job to fix this issue. It’s not. It’s everyone’s job. In the animal kingdom, we don’t discriminate. We treat dogs the same, they have the same needs.
So it’s also the men’s job to make things equal in the film industry. They shouldn’t think this is just something that is ‘en vogue’ right now. You hear that a woman was hired only because she is a woman. No! She had to work twice as hard as men just to have the same chance as them.
I’m reading ‘Becoming Michelle Obama,’ and she says there were so many times in her life where she would be the only woman in the room and the only black woman!
I think we need to educate as well. The idea is to bring about a positive, accurate portrayal of women in the media. Children should be educated that we don’t treat girls differently and that they deserve the same chances as boys. It should be as simple as anything else we teach kids – ‘be careful, that’s hot it hurts’. Also, it’s important that writers (men or women) can create complex, real and modern female characters away from the stereotypes. Otherwise we’re just representing one perception of the population. It is important to have all views. History is only written by the victors. So if we don’t take that into account the truth is a bit biased.
Right now, there is an emergence of good films, made by women or with strong female characters and stories. That’s not to say all films should be made by women but we need to have an accurate view of reality and a better balance.
Tilda Swinton explains that beautifully, ‘Whatever the film is (…) it’s an invitation to step into somebody else’s shoes.(…)You go into somebody else’s shoes and you look out of their lens, you look out of their eyes and their imagination.’
Well, I’d love to know what this is like to walk in different people’s shoes, to understand the world we live in, to relate to others.
I know it might sound a bit cliché, but wouldn’t it be a better world if we realised it’s not an extraordinary thing to be a female filmmaker?
Eventually, even though there are still disparities between men and women in the film industry, and even if the task seems hard, I always recall that quote from Mark Twain:
‘They did not know it was impossible, so they did it’.”