Over 200 Women to Participate in the Women's Weekend Film Challenge
Last month, a study of 1,100 popular films showed that there has been no improvement for women behind or in front of the camera in Hollywood over the last decade.
Two independent female filmmakers from New York City are doing something to change that.
Last fall, filmmakers Katrina Medoff and Tracy Sayre launched the Women's Weekend Film Challenge (WWFC), a grassroots initiative to encourage and support women working in all aspects of the film industry, from cinematographers and composers to directors and producers. WWFC has two main goals: To tell women's stories on film with women behind and in front of the camera, and to help female filmmakers network with each other so that they can hire and recommend one another in the future.
Medoff and Sayre held the inaugural film challenge in January 2018, placing 160+ filmmakers onto nine crews that each wrote, shot and edited a short film in just one weekend.
The results were impressive. One WWFC team's buddy comedy, "Mila & MiMi Too," was chosen to be screened before "The Spy Who Dumped Me," starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, at an LA screening at ArcLight Hollywood. That same film was screened at the HBO Women in Comedy Festival. Those honors are even more impressive considering that the film, like all of the films made for the WWFC, was made on almost no budget: all cast and crew members donated their time and used their own equipment.
Another film from the inaugural WWFC, "Greater Good," has been accepted to five prestigious film festivals and counting, screening most recently at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Canada.
Now, Medoff and Sayre are launching their second challenge, to be held in New York City from Sept. 20 to 23 and they are working with over 200 women.
"There are so many talented, professional female filmmakers working in New York, LA and BEYOND - but Hollywood hasn't given them a chance," Medoff said. "The sets of the WWFC are filled with women in all roles, from cinematographers to editors to composers, who have already been creating high-quality work. We all know that connections help. Now that these women have worked together on the WWFC, they're hiring each other and referring one another for jobs."
In Hollywood, the percentage of female speaking characters has hovered around 30 percent for the last 10 years. Over that time period, only 4.3 percent of directors have been women - and representation for female composers is even worse at 1.3 percent.*
Women in Hollywood like Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay are speaking out against this inequality with the #TimesUp movement. But even with recent Hollywood victories for women like "Wonder Woman" and "Lady Bird," the statistics show that we aren't seeing any progress.
"So many popular projects right now like 'Ocean's 8' and 'Wonder Woman' are proving that women are not only making great work but that women-led projects really do make money," Sayre said. "But there's still a lot more work to be done before the playing field in Hollywood is level. We want to prove that if you have passion and determination, you can make changes happen, even without money or clout.
"The success of the first WWFC demonstrates that we can have an impact," Sayre added. "Our goal is to host these challenges not only in New York City, but also in LA and other cities across the country."
* Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT, & Disability from 2007 to 2017 Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti, Dr. Katherine Pieper, Ariana Case, & Angel Choi USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative