You cannot make a movie by yourself

Although the film industry is highly competitive by nature, students in film should constantly be building each other up.

Actress+Emma+Watson+explains+equality+and+community+in+the+film+industry.+Courtesy
Actress Emma Watson explains equality and community in the film industry. Courtesy

Actress Emma Watson explains equality and community in the film industry. Courtesy

Actress Emma Watson explains equality and community in the film industry. Courtesy

Rachel Gaugler, Freelance Writer

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After speaking to various people in Biola’s Cinema and Media Arts department, it has come to my attention the great gender gap that plagues each classroom. Considering Biola has a large percentage of females as opposed to males, it is an oddity that the film program is dominated by the Y chromosome.

THE DANGER OF INDIVIDUALISM

After doing more research, I found that this paucity of females is not uncommon at all. In fact, the gender gap is a reflection of the film industry at large. The highly competitive nature of this industry has produced not only a sexist attitude—a visible problem adding to this gender gap—but also an individualistic culture of self-centered individuals pushing each other down.

The former, the sexist attitude, is explained thoroughly in The Guardian which gives an extensive list of females in the industry who relate their personal encounters with sexism. Sarah Gavron, director of the movie “Brick Lane,” makes the statement that “[Females are] 51% of the world… There are so few Oscar-nominated films with female protagonists – it’s astounding what a boys’ club it is.” Cinematographer Agnes Godard says, “When you’re a woman you have to prove, more than if you’re a man, that you’re a fast, solid, smart worker.” Tess Morris, screenwriter for “Man Up,” explains that “In creative roles, there are lots of female script editors and producers, but less so in the craft side of things and on set.”

These are just a few examples from female figures within the industry who experience firsthand how film is dominated by men. In the Los Angeles Times, a USC study was conducted to analyze the language and character interaction in 53,000 dialogues between 7,000 characters within nearly 1,000 scripts. Staff writer Sonaiya Kelley states, “What they found was a whole lot of men—4,900 male characters to 2,000 female characters—doing a whole lot of talking.” So, indeed, the film industry really is a “boy’s club.” But, why?

How, in a society where female empowerment is on the rise, is there still such inequality in an industry as big as Hollywood? In order to combat the sexism against women in the film industry, the first step would be to build a strong community. However, this is where we reach the greatest stumbling block. The underlying problem of inequality in film may not be sexism at all. While it is obviously a destructive attitude, the root problem is the lack of community and the emphasis on individualism. I am not discounting sexism as a core problem of society but rather proving that it is merely one of the myriad negative responses to individualistic culture.

Individualism is a core value in America and as a result, we have raised a society of self-centered, goal-oriented individuals whose main goal is to rise above everyone else. While the trait of being individualistic may not be bad in definition, the mindset that follows this culture has produced a community of people motivated by self-interest alone.

THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY

But, how is this mindset helpful in the film industry? It is not. After all, you cannot make a movie by yourself.

Emma Watson highlights the idea that “Women are just as guilty of discriminating against women. Some of the best feminists I have encountered are men, like Steve Chbosky who directed me in The Perks of Being a Wallflower… Some women can be incredibly prejudiced against other women!”

Thus, let us not just focus on the fact that men are putting women down in the industry. While that is still true and obviously a hindrance to rising female actors, producers, writers, etc., we should be acknowledging that the individualistic culture of America and the highly competitive nature of the film industry has resulted in both men and women putting each other down instead of building each other up. However, we should be striving to change that. If, in the film industry, a man gets the role of producer, the response should be “Good for you,” not “It is only because you are a man.” And if a woman assumes the role of producer, the response should again be “Good for you,” not “You are being too ambitious for a woman.”

In Biola’s CMA program, let us therefore build a community where the male dominance does not stunt the growth of the female students, but rather encourages them. Let us build a community where we build each other up and realize that you cannot make a movie by yourself.  

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