Words & Actions from New Zealand: Strategies for helping women filmmakers, the Compostela Declaration and the Writing of a Biopic

As you may know, Her Film is a sister blog to the New Zealand-based blog Wellywoodwoman by Kiwi writer/filmmaker/cultural activist Marian Evans who this year earned the first Ph.D. in Creative Writing ever awarded in New Zealand.  Marian is making a film called Development about women filmmakers and the people who love them.  She’s using an alternative financing model that does not depend on the national film commission or other state-based film funds as many other Kiwi films do.  Inspired by Sally Potter‘s production model for The Gold Diggers, Marian and her production team are also tackling the larger issue:  gender parity within New Zealand filmmaking, working toward the goal of Kiwi women directing 50% of all Kiwi-made films.  Her doctoral thesis focused on women in the filmmaking industry and issues of gender parity, and the script for Development arose from that research.  It’s a global movement rapidly gaining traction but up against many obstacles.

Marian recently blogged about how women are helping other women to gain opportunities to participate in making films:

“There are so many strategies available to support women’s participation in feature filmmaking. I love them all.

Some people record, analyse and write about the numbers, provide the evidence…

Some women experiment with funding structures and new ways of distribution…

Some women illuminate the diverse—and often poorly understood—structures some women use when they write scripts…

…their effects are enhanced every time a distinguished member of the international film-making community speaks out about the issues—Jane Campion and Meryl Streep are the outstanding examples.”

The Compostela Declaration is part of this larger movement to bring about gender parity within filmmaking.  Generated by CIMA — Asociacion de Mujeres Cineastas y de los Medios Audiovisuales (Association of Women Filmmakers and Women in Audiovisual Communications), or Women in Audiovisual Europe.  (Use google to search the association’s Spanish  name for an option to translate the page.)  A major CIMA meeting was held in May of this year in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.  In reference to CIMA and its Compostela Declaration about women’s participation in film and media, gender parity and the “voicelessness” resulting from the current imbalance, Marian stated that it was:

“…the first time I’ve read about women using terminology that embraces the contemporary screen media convergence.”

(The declaration is included in Marian’s post for those who’d like to read it.)

And here’s a bit of her newest post which really made me jump for joy as it was “ballsy” in what seems to be a very Marian way, at least from the eight months or so that I’ve known her — one of my favorite things about her.  What I like to call a “modest proposal,” Marian takes on the topic of Sony Pictures looking for a woman screenwriter for the new project by producers Amy Pascal and Elizabeth Cantillon.  Based on Sheila Weller’s book GIRLS LIKE US, the film is a biopic of the lives of singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon.  And Marian says:

” ‘OH, I thought: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon– Then, ‘I can do this. And I want to.’ “

GO FOR IT, Marian!

READ MORE of Marian Evans’ incredible blog at Wellywoodwoman: For Women Who Want to Make Movies, and for the People Who Love Them, and check out her site for her new film Development (currently in production).  Join the Development page on Facebook and read Marian’s tweets @devt.  Start a dialogue!

1 thought on “Words & Actions from New Zealand: Strategies for helping women filmmakers, the Compostela Declaration and the Writing of a Biopic

  1. Ah Kyna, you’re so so lovely. Thank you! The Girls Like Us thing is fun, knowing I could do a great job, but also wondering how to address all those degrees of separation that exist between here and the US. Every day, I’m so glad that you’re there, a wee outpost of delight, but today am specially glad when I read that you think I’m ballsy rather than a complete nut! Go sisterhood!!!!

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