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Jill Soloway Encourages Women Directors to “Storm the Gates”

Jill Soloway Encourages Women Directors to "Storm the Gates"

“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway delivered a powerful keynote address to outgoing and incoming students of the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women, calling for nothing short of a revolution by urging female filmmakers to “storm the gates” and “FUCK SOME SHIT UP.” 

The “Afternoon Delight” director’s advice for budding female filmmakers was both insightful and hilarious and included a number of memorable gems such as “shoot from your pussy.” 

Soloway used “The Rules,” an infamous, ultra-conservative self-help book that teaches women how to ensnare men, as a jumping-off point for her speech. After detailing a few of the rules outlined in the dating guide, such as not accepting a date for a Saturday after a Wednesday, Soloway explained that “if some of these things work for chicks trying get their way with dudes in life, they should also have to work for chicks trying to get their way in the male-dominated industry of Hollywood.” 

“The Rules” dictate that you should “Be a Creature Unlike Any Other,” and Soloway suggested that the advice actually holds true for directors, saying, “Find your voice, your script, your rhythms. Before you make a movie, you’re comparing two things in your mind: the empty space where there’s no movie, and then the opposite of no movie, which is your completed movie.” Ultimately, “you gotta go for it. Just do me a favor and FUCK SOME SHIT UP. Surprise yourself, wake up your actors, get wild with your performances, try shit, put in that funky dialogue you’re embarrassed of, in fact, rub your fucked-up-ness all over your scripts, add some shame and embarrassment and glee, and then dare yourself to shoot it.. SERIOUSLY, go big or go home. Be a creature unlike any other.” 

Soloway was very critical of Hollywood’s male-dominated status quo, where “guys are holding on so tightly to male protaganism because it perpetuates male privilege.” From this position, Soloway explained, these men “can point: ‘She’s old, she’s hot, she’s not, she’s old, she’s fat, she’s someone I want to bone, she’s past her prime, that person’s black, queer, fat.’ That pointer is a powerful thing. That white cis male gaze is like a lifeguard chair, it’s a watchtower — I’m way up here naming things. And they are NOT GIVING UP THOSE LOOKOUT SPOTS EASILY. In fact they won’t even cop to the fact that they have that privilege.” The solution? “Instead of waiting for these guys to change, instead STORM the gates, grab hands with each other, RUN like red rovers at the lifeguard chairs, snarl at the bases like wild, starving beast dogs, boost each other up those watch towers and pull those motherfuckers down.” 

Rather than seeing her womanhood as a shortcoming, Soloway sees feelings as “OUR thing” — and a “thing” that is indispensable on the set, equipping herself and other women with the powerful ability to “make a safe space for people to have feelings.” 

Soloway’s speech, which is well worth reading in full, concludes by suggesting that the only way real change will occur in Hollywood “will be when we’re all wilder louder, riskier, sillier, unexpectedly overflowing with surprise. Invite it by bringing all of that feminine into your art making. And soon they’re going to say, ‘We gotta find a woman to direct this, because women are just so much better at it.'”

[via HitFix]

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