Saturday, December 24, 2011

Riley Wants to Know...

Check out this YouTube video of a little girl named Riley getting upset in a toy store cuz all the girls have to be pink and princesses while the boys get to be superheroes. Out of the mouth of babes...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ask Me No Stereotyping Questions, I'll Tell You No Lies (Oooh, you're so smart!)

I am going on a bit of a tirade today about the New York Times interview of Whitney Cummings. Others have discussed her style of comedy and how the networks are handling her. There's a nice piece on about that. I'm more interested in the interviewer, Andrew Goldman, and the meta-message of his questions to her. So I've reprinted his questions, and put in my own analysis of their subtext. If you want to read Whitney Cummings' actual answers, read the NYT article here.
This fall, you’re coming out of relative obscurity to have two shows on network TV: “Whitney,” which you star in, and “Two Broke Girls,” which you co-created. What do you remember about being broke?
At first glance, a reasonable question given the title of one of the shows, But since she has only recently come “out of relative obscurity” it’s actually a rather dumb question when you think about it.
Hold on, you did your grocery shopping at 7-Eleven?
Imagine a guy tells an interviewer he shopped at 7-11. Would that call for such a “hold on” bit of faux incredulousness?
On those Comedy Central roasts, your fellow comedians liked to joke about how you slept your way to fame. How accurate is that criticism?
Two problems here. His lead in tries to hide his question behind her fellow comics. John Stuart likes to point out his show doesn’t have to pretend to be fair since his network is Comedy Central but that one would hope for more balance on a news network. Similarly, a joke at a roast and a “legitimate” question by the Times are not the same level of insult.

Friday, September 16, 2011

DIY as a Creative Choice

So I was going to order a banner from a printer but my design cohort, a former game show props and set gal, convinced me that the alternative-leaning crowd of Venice is unlikely to be pulled in by yet another plastic banner at the Lodge. So instead we began a 3-D collage project for this year's festival poster. Or rather, she began and I gave opinions.

Here she is laying lettering after covering a 4x8 sheet of foam core with script pages. (No submissions were harmed in the process. These are old scripts of mine...) Will keep you posted on how it turns out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Start with the Baby

I was talking to a filmmaker, a good one, about beginnings. I was trying to figure out a way to convince her to consider cutting the top of her film, but she loved it and so did her circle of beloveds. So I used the movie-as-baby analogy and took it a step further. Your movie may be an amazing baby, but if you introduce me to it by showing me the delivery or, God forbid, the act of conception, I am so outta there you have to work doubly hard to capture my heart. TMI, folks, too much information.

Seeing act of birth can be beautiful and amazing to family. The lovemaking that leads to conception is also beautiful, but not really something I want to watch if I'm not one of the parties in bed - and even then, probably not. Keep all that in your heart, and possibly in the extra value content on the DVD, but take it out of the film. Show me the shining, luminous new being already washed and swaddled in its blanket. All that other stuff you are so sure needs to be in there so I know what's happening probably is covered again later. And even if it's not, I can figure stuff out. I know where babies come from. I know that you had to do the deed and nine months later push it out. Not necessary to explain. Start with the baby, not the birth.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Down to the Wire

Selections for this year's festival are almost finished. At the moment, I am thinking about short films and how they often tend to deliver the same amount of "story" despite their different lengths. By story, I don't mean plot. Longer shorts usually have more plot, but they rarely have more "story."
Plot complications that raise the stakes are not enough. Getting the characters in a tighter spot where they are more invested isn't the point. It is the viewer who has to care more. Raising the stakes is not about the filmmaker doing it to a character in the movie. Whatever happens to raise the stakes has to induce me to raise the stakes of my participation in the ongoing story. Putting the character through hell is just a tool to pull me in and is not an end in itself or a romance between the author/filmmaker and their delight in their own oeuvre.

This gets missed frequently in documentaries where each turn of events moves the story to a new place, but on the same plane. Another fascinating fact or event or insight moves the movie horizontally and eventually leaves the viewer feeling flat. Docs have more of an excuse for this, however, since reality is often picaresque. Yet many of the narrative films make the same mistake and at some point I get antsy because the film keeps covering the same emotional terrain even as the plot moves onward. A movie, or a screenplay, needs to move me, not the plot. And if something happens in the story because the writer needs it to connect the dots but the reader/viewer is not moved to invest more by it, then the writer/filmmaker needs to dump the excess baggage and focus on saving the ship aka the viewer/reader's investment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011 Submissions Closed

We are very excited about this year's festival.  We received more submissions this year than ever before.  There is some wonderful work that we are looking forward to sharing with the world.

We are also expanding to include a day of DIY filmmaking on Friday.  Women who do comedy have got to start greenlighting themselves.  Period. Yes, it would be nice for someone to shower a "golden yes" down from the towers of studio glory.But if "they" don't buy our work, it doesn't mean there is no audience for it.  It cheats that audience and ourselves to deny the world the spectrum of women's humor simply because the gatekeepers are looking for something else.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Streaming site

Teri Carson sent this along to us about Dynamo Player,  a new video streaming service where viewers pay.  Don't know much about it, but those of you interested in self-distribution might want to check out this article in Microfilmmaker Magazine:

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Impoverished Humor

A broad send me a notice announcing the finalists for the FOX/NYTVF comedy screenwriting competition. Out of 25 scripts with 36 writers, only 4 are women, and only 2 were solo scribes.  The other two women were in writing teams with men.   Check it out here.

The reasons for starting Broad Humor still stand.  The comic vision of women is absent from our entertainment landscape.  Kinda like a painting of the countryside with no flowers.  Trees, rivers, wildlife, rocks, sky and sun.  Fine.  But where are the Roses, the Irises, the Daisys?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Women's Anger Problem

There are dissertations devoted to the "angry young man" writer and his centrality to the culture. For artists, to be an "angry young man" is essential to becoming an important and respected trailblazer in the world of ideas. There is a value placed that sometimes borders on reverence for that anger as a forge for genius.

In men. Because it is mighty hard to imagine people standing around praising an "angry young woman" story about the injustices she experiences.  And the analogy is not quite right anyway.  Young men write their "angry" polemics because they are at the nadir of their social status and from there can see the unfairness, the small-mindedness, and the shallowness of the world (not to mention women) that gives them less respect than the older men with more experience and success get.  The young men may have the powers of mind and spirit equal to greatness, but the world can't see it and this makes them rightly angry.

Young women, on the other hand, find themselves at the apex of their social status and power. Their youth and beauty, their sexual desirability catapults them into a status equal to the older and more successful men.  They feel the status quo to be quite correct in valuing them.

An equivalent does exist, and could be called the "angry middle-aged woman." Through no fault of her own, a woman's status suddenly plummets.  But notice your own reaction to the idea of that woman venting in polemical terms.  Are you drawn to her rage or do you desire to distance yourself?  Even if you are yourself angry and middle-aged, as a woman you will probably shy from it, hoping to distance yourself from the rejection that follows expressions of female anger.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Saw Bridesmaids with a Friend" Says It All

Over the weekend, I went to see Bridesmaids with a female friend. Whatever the quality of the movie, that statement says it all. I have never been a bride or bridesmaid, being a gal who is not really interested in that whole spectacle. So a drama about that "female" experience would pass me by. But a comedy? I'm game. Women friends acting out? Looking forward to it.

I hear women every day complain that they don't enjoy the movies they see. And that goes double for comedies. They are hungry for stories that they can relate to enough to really dive in, but they get zip, nothing, nada. Bridesmaids may not be anywhere near a perfect film, but it sure does go for laughs with women I feel like I know. Sure they are drawn in comic proportions, but these are not candy-box females (you know pink silk box, sweet, gooey filling, but no nutrition or fiber). The women are all sizes, not just stick thin. They have real faces with expression and character. Lines and freckles show. The semiotics are spectacular.

The film presents a series of hilarious vignettes and strings them together with the story. For the first 2/3 of the movie, it is the individual scenes that keep your interest. Every time it goes to the overall story arc, it loses its vitality. A couple of times I felt it was on the edge of a flatline when another scene would pop out and I'd find myself laughing out loud.

Interestingly, though I did not know going in who directed the film, I found myself wondering if it was a guy based on the overall style of the movie. The early lunch scene between the best friends where they joke about the way guys "hint" for oral sex served as a weird metaphor for how some of the "in your face" humor in the film was presented for laughs. I know, I know. You can't have a comedy both written AND directed by women....

Happily, the film story line clicks into place for the last act, and so it delivers all the satisfactions one could want in a comic film. Laughs, heart, a few tears, and some final rolicking.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Broadening Our Scope

We're expanding the reach of Broad Humor this year.  We added a Thursday night live comedy show to the plans for this year's festival.  Broad Humor is about all the ways women tickle your funny bone and so when the opportunity arose for some stand-up organizers to add their broad experience to our event, we were thrilled. (Okay, I'll stop with the "broad" puns for now.) Eventually, we'd like to have a film festival, a comedy festival, and a theater festival: all events featuring the humor of women.

So the festival will begin this year on Thursday, October 29 with a live stand-up show featuring all women performers.  Friday day we are putting together a day of workshops and panels.  Friday night we have a Belgian sex farce out-of-competition screening of "Madly in Love."  Saturday film screenings.  Sunday screenlab script readings, Legacy films and award ceremony.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Janice Kennedy Film Screening at El Cid in LA

A short film written by Broad Humor alum Janice Kennedy, Man. Woman. Blackbird., will screen at the El Cid Short Film Night on Wednesday, May 4, along with several other shorts.  This is a film adaptation of her play, The Dark, which was part of the first incarnation of Broad Humor, a night of plays by women.

Food and drink is available prior to the screenings at the El Cid, which begin at 9 p.m - it's actually listed in Google maps as a restaurant. The El Cid, once owned by D.W. Griffith, is here.  For more information, go to the short films night Facebook page here.

During an electrical blackout on a hot summer night, a woman's long-suppressed rage materializes from the shadows as she confronts her philandering husband in a candlelit death-dance of seduction, suspicion and murder.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Business Card Design

I designed some new business cards to go with our re-styled website.  What do you think, broads?

Cine Gear Expo Film Competition

CineGear Expo is having a film series competition. Deadline Extended to April 20, 2011 

The Film Series at Cine Gear Expo - A Tribute to the Visual Art of Filmmaking will comprise screenings of films based on their illumination of the visual art forms in filmmaking, such as cinematography, art design, set and costume design, and will also feature a Student Short Film Competition, the Independent Short Film Competition, the Independent Feature Film Competition, and the Documentary Film Competition. The winner in each category will receive one of the Production Prize Packages.
Rules and Entry Forms, Production Prize Packages, Schedule and more here.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Submissions: Paris Project deadline April 22

Paris Project invites the foreign filmmakers and producers of the selected projects in development to spend 4 days in Paris: personalised appointments and one-to-one meetings are organized with professionals who are likely to be interested in those selected projects and to bring them financial support through co-production or presales. In 2010, more than 350 professionals from 140 societies attended Paris Project and 476 meetings were scheduled.

Deadline for projects application: April 22, 2011
(please note that projects have to be submitted by a production company and projects submitted should not have French partners attached)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

CONTEST: The Los Angeles Video Project

If you have a short film or care to make one that features the city of Los Angeles and present it in a positive light, you have until April 22 to upload.  This festival presented by New Filmmakers LA on May 20, 2011 at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood.  More info here...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Calling All April Fools! - Submissions open for 2011

April 1, the Broad Humor Film Festival opens submissions for its sixth year of celebrating funny films by women with exclusive screenings, screenplay readings, exciting industry panels, delicious eats and the best conversations a bunch of broads could ask for!  Ladies, break out your director's cuts. Funny femmes, make the finish flares on that final fabulous draft. Women everywhere, get ready to submit your comedic works to the film festival tailored  just for YOU.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Get Ready to Submit Your Films and Screenplays

Submissions are open for the 2011 Broad Humor Film Festival.

This year is already shaping up to be a barrel of laughs. We have broadened (yes pun intended) the categories so that now a film written by a woman but directed by a non-female can still be eligible for inclusion in the festival. Likewise, a gal can direct something written by a man and still see her work included in the event and possibly garner a directing award for it.   More details on the Broad Humor website submissions page.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival Next Weekend

If you're in LA and interested in women's work on stage, next weekend you can sample the works of women performers from near and far taking place March 24-27 at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave, Venice, 90291

There's gala Thursday March 24 (see invite graphic) that costs $40. For the other programs, ticket prices this year include Festival VIP passes for all six shows at $125; and  general admission single show tickets  at $20 in advance, or $25 at the door. Discounts are available upon request for students, seniors, and groups of ten or more. The Electric Lodge welcomes all audience members to use its free, on-site parking lot.

Reservations: (818) 760-0408.
Online reservations will be available at

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sexy Women and Comedy

Wading into the conversation about last week's 30 Rock and the convoluted relationship of feminism to women's humor, I want to first send kudos to Salon's Rebecca Traister and Women and Hollywood's guest blog by Emilie Spiegel.  You should know that my opinions come from my experiences performing in a Seattle late-night cabaret as a "babe"  - baby-voiced, blonde, and completely self-absorbed.  (Watch an old video of me in Freud & Box Envy on YouTube if you care to see where I'm coming from.)

Comedy with cleavage plays on the power of sex.  A gal who uses that power without admitting that she's doing it risks pissing other women off.  You can get the guys with testosterone poisoning to swear they love you for your brains, but don't expect me to buy the lie.  I don't mind if Babycakes gets what she wants by dumbing down or dressing up.  I mind if she turns to me with those same wide eyes and innocently demands I accept her status as coming from her brains, artistry, or great personality. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Do You Write Like a Man or a Woman?

There's a program called the Gender Genie  that supposedly tells you if you write like a man or a woman.  It turns out that I write more like a man (Female score: 300/ Male score: 370)  Hollywood, do you hear?  I write like a man! 

How about you broads?  Do broads write more like men or women.  Post your scores and let me know.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Super 8 Film Festival- Watch and Enter

Straight 8 is a film festival that invites you to shoot a film on one Super 8 cartridge. The entry fee includes the cartridge. They send it, you shoot and send it back. Then they process it, you send the soundtrack separately. No editing. They'll be at Sundance this year if you plan to go. Meanwhile, you can watch some of the best films from previous years here. Some really creative stuff. Entry deadline: March 1.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative

Met this great bunch of women working to raise awareness in Los Angeles of the stage work done by women.  They have launched an organization called the Female Playwrights Initiative - FPI.  The sad fact is that too few of the plays by women are getting produced and the skew in the voices is resulting in a skew in the stories.  I think that our stories are not serving us very well these days, caused at least in part by the narrow range of narratives that get exposure.  More women's voices would benefit not only the women writers, but the culture as a whole. 

It would be great if we would all take the time to go and enjoy the work of one woman a month, be it a play or a movie or an art exhibit.  Perhaps we can make it a group outing and meet and greet for a beverage or snack before or after.  We need to have fun supporting women or it becomes a chore. But if we don't support women in the arts, then how can we complain about the movies, the music, all the stories out there that fail to engage us because we're not the target audience.

So how about it.  Anybody up for a "women's work" play group to go to one event a month?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Who Gave You Your Inspiration or Aspiration?

I'd like to know who have been the women - and men - who inspired you to take on the creative life or who helped you give yourself permission to aspire to it.  We broads think we've got something to say that others need to hear, whether they know it or not.  How did we get so confident?  Or driven?  I'd like to see if we share common heroines, real or fictional.  Maybe there are some women who we should be recognizing as part of the festival for their contribution to our lives.

I have a host of women I can point to.  As I'm an old broad, mine are pretty old school. The first name I have to put on the list is Anita Loos.   Female scifi/fantasy writers like Ursula LeGuin and Andre Norton were other writing inspirations, though neither of these is funny.  Then comediennes like Carol Burnett and Jean Harlow. (Lucille Ball was not my favorite.  I preferred Ethel.)

Another role model for me from a young age was Barbra Streisand.  She did not look like any other woman at the pinnacle of American success anywhere, she had worked her way up with talent, and she took the reins like it was a woman's right to do so.  There weren't any women directors that I knew of.  (Okay, so there are only a few now.  At least there ARE a few.)  Streisand directed and I remember thinking, "Can she do that?"  I've come a long way, baby.

So how about you?  If you have time, please share your thoughts along with the names.  I think we are in trouble as a society because the stories manufactured in the marketplace are failing us.  I'd like to get down to the root with some real stories and see if we can make a fertile field for a new narrative crop to nurture our minds and spirits.