Jill Soloway, the director of this year’s Sundance breakout “Afternoon Delight,” took home the Sundance award for Best Director. She’s also a member of the board of the San Francisco Film Society. Earlier this week, Soloway took to the blog of SFFS Executive Director Ted Hope to explain why women make better directors than men. Check out her reasons below, and visit Hope’s blog for this post and more great content for the film industry!
1) We grew up playing dolls.
No one believes me, but honestly? Making a movie is closer to playing dolls than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD. As children we sat on the floor, gave the dolls names, dressed them up in hot pants and pleather belts and gave voice to scenarios. And yes, we also smashed them together and made kissy sounds so they could make sweet, sweet, plastic love. I did that with Kathryn Hahn and Josh Radnor in my movie too!
2) We put on Thanksgiving
Women can make a space in their brain big enough to plan a seven-course dinner for thirty friends or a twenty-three day shoot for a crew of forty. Shopping list, shot list – they’re more or less the same thing. What do I need? Go get it – by taking your Subaru to the market or your camera to the actor’s face.
3) We can delegate.
I know what you were thinking with that shopping metaphor – that you know how to drive a Subaru but maybe not so much with operating the Alexa. Fear not that cameras are boy things — you never even have to touch it (unless you want to), your cinematographer does that. And of course, your DP can be a girl too!
4) We’re so into feelings.
Sure, some movies are about exploding fighter jets or planetary warfare – but the movies that really matter make us feel things. Men have to get past their fear of feelings; women are always trying to get people to go into the ladies room to talk it out, and then it ends in tears – just like an awesome movie!
5) We know how to attract.
Okay, I’m a feminist, so don’t get mad — but chicks spend their whole lives exploring the art of attraction. We were taught from an early age that men get spooked if you run at them at full speed – so we perfected the art of covering our faces in makeup and batting our lashes. Raising money for your indie is the same – if you act desperate or like you want it too much, investors run in the other direction.
6) We know how to apologize.
I hereby would like to apologize to any gender queer, third gender or trans people who find the gender binary herein repressive. I find it repressive too! I just wanted to think of a title that would be sticky and clicky, as they say. I’m sorry I’m so sorry I’m really really sorry.
7) We’re flexible.
It’s scientifically proven that women naturally have stronger and more flexible lower backs than men. There were intimate moments on the set of my film Afternoon Delight when Hahn and Radnor and my DP (Jim Frohna) and I were physically entangled on the bed supporting each other to get the right shot. It was sweaty and painful and everyone was afraid they were going to fart – just like yoga! So get downward facing, you boy dogs, you have some muy serioso catching up to do.
8) We’re willing to ask for directions.
As a director, a million people asked me a million times a day what I thought. I just turned the ol’ switcheroo on them and asked ‘what do you think’? They almost always had something better to add than whatever I was going to say. And if they didn’t, I used the time while they were talking to come up with my own thoughts.
9) We’re tough.
You guys think making a film is hard? Try making a human being. Filmmaking is nada compared to childbirth. And I had two c-sections, so I hung around on a table fully conscious while someone else reached into my guts and pulled aside my spleen so they could get a small person out. Twice. Also, men, try bleeding for five full days out of your vagina but going about your business with a straight face ONCE A MONTH for thirty years. That is bad-ass.
10) The vagina’s got a lot to say.
While we’re on the topic of said vaginas, please note that yes, the vagina has been oh-so-silenced for nigh on eons. Women experience the world differently than men. Did ya notice? So few women have gotten a chance to share their vision of this world onscreen, it’s inevitably going to be a new take. Isn’t that what everyone wants? New new new? We got it!
11) We have wombs.
Well, many of us, anyway. I was taught this really cool technique by Joan Scheckel (http://www.joanscheckel.com) that she might call ‘directing from the feminine’. It’s about imagineering the rehearsal space or the set as one big ol’ womb where the warm, moist safety allows everyone else to do their best work. This means letting go of a tightly held vision that you may (but probably will not) be able to will into existence. Women understand from their relationship to womb theory how to receive what is going on, how to listen to what their instincts tell them in the moment and allow what is happening to happen.
12) We have pretty good hygiene.
Eighteen hour days on set breathing down your neck? No problem. Ladies are often way more diligent about the whole deodorant wearing and teeth brushing than some boys we know. When I was directing Afternoon Delight, if we were shooting near our house, I went home to take a bath at lunch! (Okay, I also needed to get my bra off!)
13) We like community.
We make book clubs, writing groups, mommy groups, co-ops and even curated web video groups. Women love to create communities. Women are masters at creating make-shift families who are loyal to each other, support each other and all work towards a common goal. Whether the cast and crew become a community during a production or remain a group of individuals who happen to work long hours in the same place will show in your final product. And speaking of communities, your audience is yet another huge, unwieldy community that needs tender loving care.
14) We are:
Andrea Arnold, Catherine Breillat, Lena Dunham, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow, Agnes Varda, Nicole Holofcener, Sofia Coppola, Miranda July, Lisa Cholodenko, Ava DuVernay, Lynn Shelton, Diablo Cody, Valerie Farris, Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron, Nancy Myers, Catherine Hardwicke and who else?
15) We’ve got maternal instincts.
A film crew is essentially a large family. A director must constantly cuddle and coddle and keep everyone on task… especially the actors. Who can be sort of like children. That doesn’t mean I don’t love actors. I would be one if I could lose around fifteen pounds. Oh, but for the gluten, which calls constantly…
16) We’re detailed-oriented.
That’s why your mom was able to scope out the one dirty corner of your room where you hid your cigarettes and the secret pleather belt and hot pants you changed into after she dropped you off at school.
17) We’re awesome.
So, yeah. There’s that too.
BY JILL SOLOWAY