For the Cinematic Mystics Out There

For those of you who like Jodorowsky or Gurdjieff, I’ve stumbled upon some interesting reading.¬† I am going to be pondering these 82 Commandments as a meditation and perhaps I will ascend to a new space on the holy mountain.

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Not Just a Hollywood Problem

I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of women in the world.¬†¬†¬†Hollywood was reeling over the avalanche of harassment and sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.¬†¬†The #MeToo hashtag is near-constant in my various feeds.¬† I am saddened.¬† I keep asking myself, “How do I take action?”¬† And more importantly, how to take action that reverbs beyond just Hollywood?

I see Saudi women claiming their right to drive and wanting more of the rights that we in the USA take for granted.¬† There’s been significant action to stop child-marriage in India.¬† ¬†Men are expressing remorse, sympathy and solidarity for the women brave enough to tell world their “Me Too”.¬†¬† There IS progress.

I had a conversation with Nada Nasserdeen of Rise Up For You this morning.¬† ¬†It will be up soon.¬† We discussed so many things and one of the things that came up was the pay gap.¬† What Harvey Weinstein did was horrible, and once the headlines fade on this, we still have to keep pushing for economic equality.¬† Abuse of power is intimately tied to money. Having money does not give you the right to abuse other people.¬† One of the things that stands out about the Harvey Weinstein debacle was how¬† he was perceived as¬† a “golden goose” to quote Scott Rosenberg, a long-time associate.¬† If you haven’t read Rosenberg’s comments, read it.¬† Weinstein’s ability to make box office money left him unchecked. Considering how little progress has been made to include more women in the decision-making process of commercial film and television, it’s no wonder that he would-be-Harvey-s would feel invincible.

How do we move forward beyond this week?

  • Reach out to a woman in entertainment and let her know you support her.¬† Let her know that you care.
  • Go to a play or movie directed or produced by a woman.¬† Support women in the arts.¬† There’s an old maxim that “You’re only as good as your last picture.”¬† Let’s support women making art.
  • Do not tolerate bad behavior, “locker room talk” or any action that demeans a woman or girl at home, work or school.
  • Support women globally, especially to empower them economically.¬† A threat to women’s freedoms anywhere compromises women’s freedom everywhere.¬† One of my favorite ways to do this is by funding a micro-loan on Kiva.

This is about more than the transgressions of one man.¬† There are more Harvey-s in every industry, every country.¬† This is not just a Hollywood problem.¬† It’s a power imbalance that manifests everywhere from gilded Hollywood to the most humble villages on earth.¬† As long as the pay gap is tolerable to the majority, women will still be a minority, even if women outnumber men.

 

 

We All Get Trapped in the Linen Cabinet

My day started off with a faint scratching.  It was cat claws on something, a milder version of the cringe-worthy nails-on-a-chalkboard sound.

“Catty, what are you doing?”

Nothing.  Silence.

I sip my coffee and begin to deal with notifications:  Facebook, Twitter, heaps of crap email.

That sound again.

“Catty, what ARE YOU DOING?”

I look around and no cat creating chaos.  I looked in on the cat box.  No cat creating a mess.  I looked around the living room where the cat sometimes rebels and poos anyway.  No mess.  I sit back down on the couch.

Nails-on-chalkboard sound.  CRINGE.

“Mercury?”

A faint mew.

“Mercury?”

I look around, doing a 360.  No cat in his usual spots.

“Mercury?”

A faint mew.

I open the linen cabinet. ¬†Mercury, sitting atop a pile of towels, stares at me. ¬†Somehow, when I was putting the towels away late last night, I had failed to notice he had gotten in there, and apparently spent the night there. ¬†I had serious cat mom guilt. ¬†I’ve spent most of the day hugging and petting this little guy.

I won’t be able to ascertain how long Mercury wanted to actually spend in the linen cabinet versus how much time he was actually trapped in there. ¬† However, I’ve come to appreciate something very important. ¬†Sometimes cries for help are faint. ¬†It was that soft mew that led me to him. ¬†If our furry friends have this issue, then certainly our human friends do too. ¬†We have to be better listeners and curious listeners, not just listening for the sake of hearing, but listening for the sake of learning and hopefully, helping.

Everyone has their own linen cabinet. ¬†For some it’s depression and for some, a rarely-spoken-of trauma. ¬†Some spend a lot of time in the dark, just waiting for a door to open. ¬†If you haven’t heard from someone in a while, are you listening closely enough? ¬†Are you giving them space to be heard?

Development Hell

If you’re an industry person, you may have heard this term or used it–development hell. Development hell refers to the often chaotic, messy, frustrating business of getting a script ready to go into pre-production. ¬†No script comes to a¬†producer perfect and camera ready.

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Draft 1

We like the script, but there are few things that we need to change. ¬†Here is what we want changed: ¬†add this character, expand another character, take away the annoying mom character–and can you get this down to 90 pages?

Draft 2

This wasn’t what we had in mind. ¬†You know, ¬†I had this really great idea for some comic relief at the beginning, since it’s a heavy drama…

Draft 3

This is a mess.

Draft 4

Why is the subplot so much more interesting than the main plot?  Should we go a different direction?

Draft 5

We should go a different direction.

Draft 6

Is this too political?

Draft 7

It’s coming together, but we need to find a compelling role for (insert expensive actor’s name here).

Draft 8

Repeat process, starting above.

 

Churchill said,

“If you’re going through hell, keep on going.”

Hollywood’s Problem Starts in High School

The success of Wonder Woman and the live action Beauty and the Beast has generated a great deal of discussion about women in cinema and woman-centric narrative. ¬†A Variety article pointed out, though, that despite record box office, women, “made up only 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016. That represented a decline of two percentage points from the year before.” ¬†Without getting too heady or too political, I need to point out that women’s narratological problems start off long before a screenplay gets optioned by the studios and directors are hired. ¬†It starts in high school, with the ways we are taught narrative structure.

Read more on Mogul.

David Lynch, The Cinematic Shaman

Very little causes my jaw to drop, but tonight, David Lynch, you have done it. ¬†Everyone was oohing and aahing over last week’s episode of Twin Peaks, a chorus of WTF-s over the nebulous and at times, horrific images. ¬†I expect that from Lynch. ¬†What I didn’t expect was he to channel me or me, him.

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Harry Dean Stanton understated-ly sang “Red River Valley”, a decades-old folk ballad of love and loss. ¬†You would almost miss it if you weren’t listening carefully. ¬† My jaw dropped. ¬†That was the theme song of “Seeking Valentina” an award-winning, Lynchian-esque short film directed by Armin Nasseri, which I starred in and helped him produce. ¬†It was so odd, because it seemed like Harry Dean Stanton continued right where our theme song left off. It was beyond weird–like David Lynch.

Here’s my version of the song, which played over the end credits of “Seeking Valentina”. ¬†Check out the trailer of the film. ¬†It will be playing at the Hollywood Dreams Film Festival in late August. ¬†Curious? ¬†Read Char Hardin’s review of Seeking Valentina, comparing my character to Laura Palmer.

David Lynch, you have blown my mind.  If you channeled us, we are honored.  If we channeled you, we hope to do it again.  We love you David, and the amazing journeys you take us on, always a little cuckoo and a little dangerous, just like you.

 

Reeling in Our Focus

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There are so many distractions.  Sometimes, in our hectic lives, we have competing priorities, which can make focusing even harder.  This past week on What Women Want Talk Radio, Judy Goss and I had guests Christine Hassler and Nancy Ganzekaufer, who coached us on how to make our lives more reflective of our deeply held priorities.  If you’ve been overwhelmed by your to-do list or suffering from a bad case of analysis paralysis, you’ll find the candor of Christine and Nancy refreshing.

Learn more on Mogul.