2 Easy Steps to Add More Female Characters
I find it interesting that in 2014 there is still an underrepresentation of women in film and television. Behind the scenes it can really be seen by the general public, but as a female at film school and then on professional sets I was definitely in the minority. But crewing is not what I want to discuss today, what I want to discuss may have a much simpler answer…
Recently I read an old article by Geena Davis, entitled “Geena Davis’ Two Easy Steps to Make Hollywood Less Sexist”. Davis had a lot to say in such a short article, and you would expect her to seeing though she has her own Institute on Gender in the Media (seejane.org). She discusses the position of women on the screen, what is visible to the world and in particular influences the upbringing of children.
Women are so eager to participate in the film industry and it was evident from the first casting session I ever held where up to 10 times the amount of women would turn up for one role compared to their male counterparts. Yet there are always more male characters available, even in films geared towards a female audience (consider the male contingent in romantic comedies). Furthermore, we are constantly told that films about women don’t sell and then successful films like Frozen and Blue Jasmine explode all over that argument.
Davis believes that it is easy to create a more female friendly production in just two simple steps:
Step 1: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names. With one stroke you’ve created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch. What if the plumber or pilot or construction foreman is a woman? What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it’s not a big deal?
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don’t gather, I don’t know.
And there you have it. You have just quickly and easily boosted the female presence in your project without changing a line of dialogue.
It seems so simple and so doable. Something that I will definitely consider for my future productions.
What do you think? Do you agree with Davis?