Thursday, December 11, 2008

Women Write - Then What?

News from the world of scriptwriting competitions is not good for the gals. The 2008 Movie Script Contest announced its winners, and out of the 24 finalists, three were women. And of the winners - zip, nada, zero. Out of eight comedy screenplay finalists, the only woman was at the bottom with an honorable mention.

Last summer I wrote a long post about some of the reasons for this gender bias by people of presumably good will, but understanding does nothing to further our interests. Pointing out the bias, protesting against it, fighting it at each turn uses a lot of energy and does not seem to produce results.

As someone who reads a ton of scripts every year, I can tell you women write great and funny films. True, I am female, but again, the experiences I have had in this festival show me that guys like the kind of comedy women write when they see it on screen. In general (with all the pitfalls of generalizations) women structure their comedies differently, both in the relationship of the world to the characters and in the manner of the climactic payoff(s). But I have had Marines and ex-cops who knew no one associated with the films walk out of screenings telling me that this festival was the most fun they have had at an indie screening. Anecdotal - yes. I would also say emblematic, symptomatic of a larger appeal that these women's work possesses if only they could reach a larger audience.

I want to find outlets for our films outside the mainstream. If we can build an audience and a name for women's comedy, the establishment will come to us. So how do we do that. Any ideas?

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