via Ekwa MO and Melissa Silverstein
Ela Thier, a director and filmmaker for 20 years, wrote this letter about her experience in the film industry as a woman. It’s four pages of pure passion, focused specifically on fundraising for her new project, but it speaks to so much more than simple donation dollars. For example:
After years of learning, practicing, and teaching, after years of query letters, phone calls, meetings, film markets, panels, classes, LA trips, networking, more networking, even more networking, my scripts – those ones that this market reader liked better than the 150 scripts she read that summer – those scripts sit on a shelf. After years of trying and falling and getting up and trying, something finally dawned on me: maybe I’m not the most unlucky bastard that ever lived. Maybe I’m female.
There is no petition to draft. There is no policy to fight. Yet, of the 250 top-grossing films in any given year, 6% are directed by women; of the 50 top-grossing movies each year, roughly 5 star or focus on women. In 80 years of Oscar history, with roughly 250 directors receiving a nomination for best director, 3 nominations went to female directors. No woman director ever received an Oscar.
It would be so much easier if someone would just flat out say it: “You’re not a director. You’re a girl.”
As a screenwriter and aspiring filmmaker with my own taste of the industry, I often fight feelings of defeat and depression when I read statistics like this. It would be simplistic to blame all of the slow movement or rejections in my career on my being a woman; I know it’s more complicated than that. But I do wonder, what if I’d put the name “J. Gandin Le” or “J.G. Le” on the title pages of my scripts instead of “Jennifer”? And I’m a young, white, straight, middle-class woman who’s worked with a legendary filmmaker. I melt into a useless puddle when when I think of the challenges or downright refusals that women of color, transgendered people, lesbians, or poor women must face.
So I give major applause to Ela Thier for resisting that instinct to lose hope, for fighting, for putting her anger and frustration into such eloquent words, and for vowing to work 20 times harder if it means her work will make it into the world.
Read the full letter below the cut.