Thursday, April 30, 2009

Badass Female Characters

I decided to write this after reading an article about Gloria Steinem turning seventy-five in an article featured on For those of you, who don't know, she is a feminist icon, journalist, and social and political activist. In the interview, she said that a lot has changed with the women's movement, but yet there are still some hurdles that need to be addressed. In order to overcome these hurdles, consciousness in both men and women need to change. With this said, I firmly believe film to sometimes mirror our society.

Too often, I get a little annoyed when I see women in film portrayed as nothing more but weak, wallflowers, or just pretty decorations to move the film along. When I was in college, I was told by an instructor that the female lead was violent (by the way, the female was a drug lord), yet she said nothing about another classmate's story whose character committed glorified rapes and violence against the female characters. Mmm, maybe that's why I've always been drawn to some of the films of Pedro Almodovar and Federico Fellini, because the females are anything but wallflowers, but they also demonstrate how this minority group is sometimes exploited by the larger society. I've also been told recently that if I wanted to have a strong female lead in my script, to make her an assassin. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing a film with a femme fatale, but giving into the "status quo" defies the purpose.

Below, I've listed Eight of my favorite female characters in film (Some fictional and some real life):

1. She-Ra, He-Man's Twin Sister. I grew up watching this in the 80s and yes I will admit that I begged my parents to buy the She-Ra sword and headdress!

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2. Painter Frida Kahlo in Julie Taymor's Frida

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3.Yu Shu Lien and Jen battle it out in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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4. The Bride is bent on revenge in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill

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5. "Marji" dealing with the pains of growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran in Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical animation Persepolis
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6. Raimunda in Pedro Almodovar's Volver

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7. Erica Bain in Neil Jordan's The Brave One

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8. Jackie Brown in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Six Tips On How To Beat the Rejection Blues

You've spent months, maybe even years pouring your soul into a project and you've entered it into film festivals and maybe even to a few agencies and production companies. After weeks (sometimes months) of anxiously waiting, you finally get your answer in the mail: No. All you can see is the word 'NO' and nothing else. Sometimes the word 'no' blocks our ability to see the whole picture.

One observation I notice about our society is that we are constantly surrounded by a culture that convinces us that fame happens quickly and when it doesn't happen when we want it to, we feel frustrated and want to give up. Here are some tips that I share with my other friends who are artists and that I use as a reference for myself when I feel like my work isn't going to land in the right hands.

1. Take the word 'no' and turn it into a positive. The industry is tough and the word 'no' is my motivation.

2. Surround yourself around positive people. It's bad enough when you have to deal with rejections and it certainly doesn't help when you constantly have people tell you 'what you can't do' or 'that's impossible.' Sometimes we get these words from family members or friends.

3. Believe in your work. Sometimes deals will fall through with that producer or that director. It's one thing if you find a group who are passionate about your project, but when it balls down to it in the end, you must believe in your project.

4. Make a list of why you do what you do (act, write, direct, produce,etc). When I get discouraged I usually write down a list of why I became a writer/filmmaker and the importance of showing my work to the rest of the world and what excites me about being a writer. After I make this list, I tape it visibly somewhere in my room where I can see it first thing in the morning and when I go to sleep at night.

5. Read about people who influence your work. I love reading the biographies of filmmakers and writers whose works that I admire. Reading about their struggles and how they were able to get their projects made despite the odds, gives me hope.

6. Be open to constructive criticrism. As artists, we tend to heavily guard our work like they're our children and want to protect them. Constructive criticism sometimes opens our eyes to what others pick up that we don't see and this is an opportunity for us to see how our potential audience views our work. Granted, you'll have some people who'll give comments that seem way out of left field, but really it depends on what you want to take away from the comments. Some comments you just have to take like a grain of salt.

Additional Links: - I've found that this website offers very valuable tips on improving your work. They even have a film festival. originally started in the UK, but expanded to the US with branches in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They have events and screenings and sometimes workshops. If you're a little wary about promoting your project on youtube, you can also upload your video to their site.