Dear Filmmaking Workshop for Women Selection Committee:
I was thinking about applying to your workshop a 2nd time because I am starving to make a new film but the reality is you won’t accept it. Therefore, I will save myself the $100 application fee and the anxiety of filling out another basic application. I will not be applying for your fellowship this year.
When I first applied, I made the mistake of being honest in my application. I said that Allison Anders was one of my favorite directors and that her film Gas Food Lodging is what inspired me to be a filmmaker. At your open house, someone said they loved David Lynch and the collective response from the selection committee was that David Lynch would not get accepted into your film school today. I’m sure Allison Anders would not get accepted either but I submitted my application hoping my passion and my project would be of interest to you.
I was ecstatic when my friend Laura was one of the runners up. We met for dinner after her interview to celebrate her victory. I was sure she wowed you with her knowledge of Cassavetes and French New Wave not to mention the strength of her fantastic script.
She plopped in front of me like a deflated balloon at our favorite BBQ joint.
“It’s all bullshit” she said with a disappointment I’ve never seen or heard in our ten year friendship.
“What do you mean?”
She said that everything was going well, thought she had it in the bag until one of you asked what director’s success she wanted to emulate. “Who did she want to be?” In true Laura fashion, she said she wanted to be herself and then you made her name the filmmakers she admired; “Goddard, Truffaut” but the three of you shook your heads, looked at her with pity and asked her to try again.
“Think commercial success, don’t you want to be successful?” one of you asked.
“Yes I want to be successful, like Sydney Lumet, I mean he directed Serpico and Dr. Strangelove – success for me would be to direct without being pigeonholed, work in different genres.”
That’s as far as she got because one of you cut her off. “You can’t work in different genres, you need to pick one?” She knew she wasn’t getting in so she spoke her mind.
“I don’t want to pick one, I’m currently working on a comedy but my last film was very experimental. It’s hard to pick one thing when you’re starting out.” That’s the last thing she said when one of you politely ended the interview.
Your desire to turn female directors into the next Judd Apatow, are well intentioned, I guess. But you need to try harder because the films that get made during the fellowship are not winning any awards or getting into good festivals. Speaking of festivals, maybe you should take a cue from the programming department at your Film Festival. They curate a nice mix of diverse, commercial and experimental films from all over the world.
I will apply again when your selection committee has more diversity. Why are there two men and one woman judging the application process for a workshop tailored to women filmmakers? Perhaps you can expand your selection committee to include two or three programmers from your festival and at least one filmmaker, preferable a filmmaker of color.
PS – Laura directed a feature film she co-wrote, here is a link to Rich Kids.
PPS – I am going to make another short film this year
PPPS – Laura and I have kids now but we will continue to make films