Jill Soloway, the director of this year’s Sundance breakout “Afternoon Delight,” took home the Sundance award for Best Director. She’s also a member of the board of the San Francisco Film Society. Earlier this week, Soloway took to the blog of SFFS Executive Director Ted Hope to explain why women make better directors than men. Check out her reasons below, and visit Hope’s blog for this post and more great content for the film industry!
1) We grew up playing dolls.
No one believes me, but honestly? Making a movie is closer to playing
dolls than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD. As children we sat on the floor,
gave the dolls names, dressed them up in hot pants and pleather belts
and gave voice to scenarios. And yes, we also smashed them together and
made kissy sounds so they could make sweet, sweet, plastic love. I did
that with Kathryn Hahn and Josh Radnor in my movie too!
2) We put on Thanksgiving
Women can make a space in their brain big enough to plan a
seven-course dinner for thirty friends or a twenty-three day shoot for a
crew of forty. Shopping list, shot list – they’re more or less the same
thing. What do I need? Go get it – by taking your Subaru to the market or your camera to the actor’s face.
3) We can delegate.
I know what you were thinking with that shopping metaphor – that you
know how to drive a Subaru but maybe not so much with operating the
Alexa. Fear not that cameras are boy things — you never even have to
touch it (unless you want to), your cinematographer does that. And of
course, your DP can be a girl too!
4) We’re so into feelings.
Sure, some movies are about exploding fighter jets or planetary
warfare – but the movies that really matter make us feel things. Men
have to get past their fear of feelings; women are always trying to get
people to go into the ladies room to talk it out, and then it ends in
tears – just like an awesome movie!
5) We know how to attract.
Okay, I’m a feminist, so don’t get mad — but chicks spend their whole
lives exploring the art of attraction. We were taught from an early age
that men get spooked if you run at them at full speed – so we perfected
the art of covering our faces in makeup and batting our lashes. Raising
money for your indie is the same – if you act desperate or like you
want it too much, investors run in the other direction.
6) We know how to apologize.
I hereby would like to apologize to any gender queer, third gender or
trans people who find the gender binary herein repressive. I find it
repressive too! I just wanted to think of a title that would be sticky
and clicky, as they say. I’m sorry I’m so sorry I’m really really sorry.
7) We’re flexible.
It’s scientifically proven that women naturally have stronger and
more flexible lower backs than men. There were intimate moments on the
set of my film Afternoon Delight when Hahn and Radnor and my DP (Jim
Frohna) and I were physically entangled on the bed supporting each other
to get the right shot. It was sweaty and painful and everyone was
afraid they were going to fart – just like yoga! So get downward facing,
you boy dogs, you have some muy serioso catching up to do.
8) We’re willing to ask for directions.
As a director, a million people asked me a million times a day what I
thought. I just turned the ol’ switcheroo on them and asked ‘what do
you think’? They almost always had something better to add than whatever
I was going to say. And if they didn’t, I used the time while they were
talking to come up with my own thoughts.
9) We’re tough.
You guys think making a film is hard? Try making a human being.
Filmmaking is nada compared to childbirth. And I had two c-sections, so I
hung around on a table fully conscious while someone else reached into
my guts and pulled aside my spleen so they could get a small person out.
Twice. Also, men, try bleeding for five full days out of your vagina
but going about your business with a straight face ONCE A MONTH for
thirty years. That is bad-ass.
10) The vagina’s got a lot to say.
While we’re on the topic of said vaginas, please note that yes, the
vagina has been oh-so-silenced for nigh on eons. Women experience the
world differently than men. Did ya notice? So few women have gotten a
chance to share their vision of this world onscreen, it’s inevitably
going to be a new take. Isn’t that what everyone wants? New new new? We
11) We have wombs.
Well, many of us, anyway. I was taught this really cool technique by
Joan Scheckel (http://www.joanscheckel.com) that she might call
‘directing from the feminine’. It’s about imagineering the rehearsal
space or the set as one big ol’ womb where the warm, moist safety allows
everyone else to do their best work. This means letting go of a tightly
held vision that you may (but probably will not) be able to will into
existence. Women understand from their relationship to womb theory how
to receive what is going on, how to listen to what their instincts tell
them in the moment and allow what is happening to happen.
12) We have pretty good hygiene.
Eighteen hour days on set breathing down your neck? No problem.
Ladies are often way more diligent about the whole deodorant wearing and
teeth brushing than some boys we know. When I was directing Afternoon
Delight, if we were shooting near our house, I went home to take a bath
at lunch! (Okay, I also needed to get my bra off!)
13) We like community.
We make book clubs, writing groups, mommy groups, co-ops and even
curated web video groups. Women love to create communities. Women are
masters at creating make-shift families who are loyal to each other,
support each other and all work towards a common goal. Whether the cast
and crew become a community during a production or remain a group of
individuals who happen to work long hours in the same place will show in
your final product. And speaking of communities, your audience is yet
another huge, unwieldy community that needs tender loving care.
14) We are:
Andrea Arnold, Catherine Breillat, Lena Dunham, Jane Campion, Kathryn
Bigelow, Agnes Varda, Nicole Holofcener, Sofia Coppola, Miranda July,
Lisa Cholodenko, Ava DuVernay, Lynn Shelton, Diablo Cody, Valerie
Farris, Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron, Nancy Myers, Catherine Hardwicke
and who else?
15) We’ve got maternal instincts.
A film crew is essentially a large family. A director must constantly
cuddle and coddle and keep everyone on task… especially the actors. Who
can be sort of like children. That doesn’t mean I don’t love actors. I
would be one if I could lose around fifteen pounds. Oh, but for the
gluten, which calls constantly…
16) We’re detailed-oriented.
That’s why your mom was able to scope out the one dirty corner of
your room where you hid your cigarettes and the secret pleather belt and
hot pants you changed into after she dropped you off at school.
17) We’re awesome.
So, yeah. There’s that too.