Women and Hollywood: What made you come up with the idea for this massive undertaking?
Dyllan McGee: As a filmmaker who had covered many historical events and figures (The Kennedys, Lincoln, African-American history), I was shocked that an equivalent film on the women’s movement didn’t exist. Once it got rolling, I realized how many women’s stories it involved and how to do this right we had to capture as many of those voices as we could.
WaH: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting it done?
DM: Not being able to include everyone we interviewed in the documentary, but thankfully we have makers.com, where hundreds of stories live — far more than could be included in the film. In order to do justice to the women’s movement we had to make sure we were hitting many different sectors — and not just over highlighting those who have been highlighted.
WaH: How did you come up with the women included?
DM: We are experts in filmmaking, not on the women’s movement, so we first created an advisory board made up of Gail Collins, Nancy Cott, Paula Giddings, Amy Richards, Gloria Steinem and others. We relied on their expertise to devise the criteria for the initial list.
WaH: Which person surprised you the most?
DM: Maria Pepe’s story of ultimately integrating the Little League. That happened nearly forty years ago and it still hurts. So many of these women created change not because they were “crusaders” — as Kathrine Switzer notes in the film — but because they wanted to do something deeply that they were being denied. It still happens today, less so certainly. Even when the barriers are broken, the hurt of being left out is hard to get over.
WaH: What was the one thing you learned that you will never forget?
DM: When I was interviewing Sheryl Sandberg I was so enamored by her utter conviction that women could do it. They could Lean In and we would begin to see the type of the change the women’s movement started advocating decades ago. Her belief that a seismic shift was ahead of us and her willingness to take risks to help make it happen, convinced me.
WaH: We know that this is not just a one-time event so tell us a little bit about how Makers will live on past the documentary.
DM: The answer is…more. More broadcast, more education, more on and offline events, and maybe even more countries. We want to change the world for women and we have just begun!
MAKERS: Women Who Make America airs on PBS tonight at 8:00pm.