Sticking Together

Sticking Together

Having recently completed my first feature film,
Arcadia, I’m occasionally asked in q&a’s
what my experience has been directing a feature as a woman. In truth, I don’t
often consciously think of myself in terms of my gender – growing up with two
sisters and a brother, I was never taught that my potential was any different
than that of my brother. But it’s hard to ignore the stark statistics about the
dearth of women directors actively working in the industry, and it does
increasingly make me wonder what can be done about it, and at least how to
maintain optimism and a fighting spirit as we try and get our work out there.

As a graduate film student at UCLA, I was
one of six women in the directing program out of a class of 21. This wasn’t
necessarily the norm – many of the classes in other years had a more equal
parity between men and women. But our small band of female filmmakers felt a
bit like it would feel later, in the “real world”, where few women
are hired to direct feature films.

For the most part, there was a special
camaraderie between the women. We enjoyed each other’s company and
supported each other’s films – in writing groups, on set, and in post. Now,
years later, many of the six of us keep in touch despite being flung all over
the world. Film school is a bonding experience for many, especially a program
as intensive and long as that at UCLA (4-5 years at the time!) But in
retrospect there was something unique to being a woman in what sometimes felt
like a man’s world, even if just by dint of the fact that we were a minority.
Our films weren’t treated any differently than those of the men – in fact men
and women alike worked on, tore apart, and applauded each other’s efforts. But
we knew that things might change once we graduated – the black and white
statistics on women directors were hard to ignore even within the protected
halls of film school.

Especially after the blood, sweat and tears it
took to make Arcadia, I now realize
how important it is to bond together in the rough world of indie filmmaking,
whose mercurial forces batter male and female directors alike. The invaluable
support you get from peers can make all the difference while you’re toiling
away on a script or knocking on industry doors that often stay closed. The film
school model of reading each other’s scripts, working on each other’s sets,
venting over drinks, and enthusiastically  supporting the fruits of each
other’s creative labors is well suited to all indie filmmakers out there, but
especially women directors. We didn’t choose an easy career path for a reason – but we can certainly use the support of peers to make it through relatively


Silver directed Arcadia,
starring Academy Award nominee John Hawkes and winner of the Crystal Bear at
the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, among other festival awards. Arcadia was based
on Olivia’s short film Little Canyon,
which premiered at Sundance in 2009.  The film is available on DVD on
 July 23. Join Silver for an advanced online screening tonight at 8p ET, including a live Twitter chat at #ArcadiaFilm, here.

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