HBO Essay

Feb. 4th, 2014 03:44 pm
rinue: (eyecon)
[personal profile] rinue
[Yesterday, HBO Access opened submissions for a program seeking filmmakers of "diverse" backgrounds to possibly be mentored by HBO. Diverse is, in this case, code that means not a straight white man, because we know the majority of humans are straight white men, right? (I kid. I also leave it to you to work out how a single person could within themselves be diverse. I do contain multitudes . . . of microorganisms.)

I don't know whether they're doing this as an act of good corporate citizenship or to get some good PR after being dinged for too much whiteness and too much T&A; either way, I approve of the move. I've applied.

As part of the application, I was asked to write a 750-word essay with the prompt "How has your diversity worked to your advantage?"

For real.

If it wasn't backed with a promise of money, I would regard it as straight-up trolling. As it stands, it's merely evidence that yes, HBO has a diversity problem. Which they're trying to fix or at least trying to appear to try to fix.

This was my essay.]

* * *

My experience of being a woman is not separate from my experience of being a person. I think of myself as normal, as an everyman.

Who I suppose happens to be a not-man.

I have been told by other directors (people who are mostly white men, because most working directors are white men) that I use faces in an odd way - that I don't go to closeup in moments when you might think I would, or I do when you'd think I wouldn't. In a two-hander, I tend to leave the camera on the person who is listening instead of the person talking. I'm more likely to put a camera below eye level than above eye level.

Could be the femaleness that makes me odd. I wouldn't know. I'm not "other" to myself. That's the way it works.

I've been told my films are cold and there isn't a way into them. I've also been told that my films treat everyone as a subject instead of an object. I like the second one better. I do well in art museums. The people who like my films tend to like them obsessively. Or they tend to be people like Mike Leigh, Jonathan Lethem, the folks at American Zoetrope, Muriel d'Ansembourg (who you haven't heard of, but she's amazing). They're kind of odd themselves, I gather. Not deliberately; in service to the story.

Here are some short films I've seen white male directors make several times:

- A man pulls into a motel in a cool car. He has a duffle bag full of money! And a gun. He holes up in a room. The maid comes in. She is sexy and possibly Latina. She may be a prostitute instead of a maid. Some other guys show up and they want the money. Everybody shoots everybody. The maid or prostitute leaves with the money.

- A man pulls into an abandoned construction site in a black car. He is wearing sunglasses and a black suit. Another man is tied up or handcuffed. Please don't kill me, he says, or maybe he just whimpers. Guard men give a signal to sunglasses man, maybe a nod. He shoots the tied up man in the head. He never makes a facial expression. He is inscrutable! He gets back into his car.

It has never occurred to me to make either of these films. Because I'm a woman? I think it's because movies like that are terribly, terribly pointless. But it could also be because I am a woman. I haven't seen enough films by women yet to know what the women film cliches are.

I don't make my films to be not-male. Of course I want to create films that are different than what's already been made. Those films are already made. We have them. Film is nicely archival. I find I can automatically make films that are different even when I try to conform.

I run into a bit of a problem as regards access. In order to make films, you need money. A lot of it. To get the kind of budget it takes to make, say, a science fiction film, you have to prove first that you can make something weeny. Maybe you start by working with Troma, or for Roger Corman; you make some cheap slasher film with plenty of tits and blood. You work your way up.

Although I feel I am competent to film tits and blood in the woods, let us say the producers of these films do not see themselves in me or feel I have a deep dedication to the genre.

I would probably portray tits a bit too realistically.

And get a bit literary.

Wes Anderson said that he made Fantastic Mr. Fox by trying to imagine what Roald Dahl would do, but wound up with a Wes Anderson film because he was Wes Anderson trying to imagine what Roald Dahl would do.

I would not say my diversity has worked to my advantage. If it had, I wouldn't need a special white-men-excluded program by HBO to give me a hand up. Between you and me, it's a perverse question.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-05 02:38 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I haven't seen enough films by women yet to know what the women film cliches are.

Nice.

I would not say my diversity has worked to my advantage. If it had, I wouldn't need a special white-men-excluded program by HBO to give me a hand up. Between you and me, it's a perverse question.

I really, really hope someone gives you money for saying that.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-02-05 03:37 am (UTC)
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
From: [personal profile] knaveofstaves
Ugh to your two man-xamples. Ugh I say.

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