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.

 

 

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Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy

We all know Hobby Lobby has yarn, but this is a yarn that has traversed into reality. ¬†Apparently, they’ve been fined for smuggling Iraqi artifacts out of war-torn Iraq as tile samples for their new Bible Museum. ¬†These were very expensive tile samples–costing millions of dollars and likely hundreds of lives.

Moses had a tablet too, and I believe it said “Thou shalt not steal.” ¬†Shame on you, Hobby Lobby. ¬†Shame on you for taking advantage of a war-torn country. ¬†Shame ¬†on you for thinking you deserved Iraq’s cultural artifacts more than its own people. ¬†Shame on you for asserting your moral authority over your employees and their bodies and then being a thief. ¬†I wish Moses had gotten a tablet that had said, “Thou shalt not be a flagrant hypcrocrite,” because that is what you all are.

 

Dear Facebook,

Dear Facebook,

Please, please, please make the “thankful” flower a permanent thing.

thankful flower

I think this little flower emoji is so powerful.  We all need to be better about expressing gratitude.  There are so many things that go wrong in the world, so much unfairness, bad vibes and mistrust, that we NEED more gratitude in our daily lives to counterbalance all the toxicity and dross.  Since social media is so ubiquitous, especially Facebook, this little flower emoji, I think, could do a lot to elevate social media culture.   Gratitude is scientifically proven to reduce aggression, improve health and help self-esteem and mental strength.  

I actually started a petition about this.  Please check it out!

In Gratitude,

Kristin West

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

Peruse this article from the Austin Business Journal on the debate on film incentives in the state of Texas.

If you’ve ever done a professional film budget, the often invisible costs of making a movie are massive: ¬†permits, feeding ¬†people, putting cast and crew up in hotels, renting vehicles, supplies, location fees. ¬†A film of any scale involves a massive infrastructure, often localized, to support it. ¬†The last budget I prepped, I had to price out renting a local herd of goats, feeding said goats and the cost of a local wrangler and stable fees. ¬†It’s this detail and minutiae that really make the cost of film what it is–and profitable for locals that can cash in on it.

I really want to film in Texas. ¬†Why? ¬†It’s my home state. ¬†It’s where many of my stories are. ¬†It’s what I know. ¬†I probably won’t. ¬†Texas’ neighbors have better incentives. ¬†I want to do something for my community and filming could bring massive influxes of money to a very economically vulnerable area.

When I was asked at the San Antonio Film Festival why I hadn’t spent more time filming in my home state, I said at the time that, “It was not where my opportunities were, where my education led me.” ¬†I keep returning to that question. ¬†Here’s another reason why, one I couldn’t quite articulate in the moment:

The state doesn’t commit to its film community. ¬†

Why should I commit to spend potentially millions of dollars in the state?

Movies aren’t made overnight. ¬†They are long-haul projects. ¬†It may take a screenwriter a year to get a camera-ready draft. ¬†It may take us a year or more to get funded. ¬†It may take us several months of pre-production, which will likely involve traveling back and forth. ¬†We try to hire locally qualified people for the crew. ¬†We will be in your state 30-60 days just filming, 12 hour days and paying for food and hotels and ancillary services, like dry cleaning, local assistants, etc. ¬†We may be in your state several months after that if there’s a great post-house. ¬†We may spend money on a Texas premiere if it’s a Texas subject.

The stability of state’s commitment to arts funding matters. ¬†It’s a risk management consideration. ¬†If you’re always threatening to pull a plug on your incentives, it’s not enticing.

 The counter-argument is that film jobs are temporary jobs and that is true to a point, but if you invest in creating a community, the jobs will keep coming.  Just ask Atlanta.  It seems there are some in government that would much rather have its denizens chained to an overabundance of low-paying retail jobs than branching out into a more highly skilled, better paid, film position.

I think it’s very shortsighted of the Texas legislature to nix film funding. ¬†You could film almost anything in Texas, such is the geological and architectural diversity. ¬†This is a whole state issue, not just an Austin or Dallas concern, where much of the film making takes place. ¬†There are many areas that could benefit from more filming. ¬†And frankly, it’s unnerving when New Mexico is standing in as Texas on film. ¬†It’s happening more and more often.

¬†There’s a poster on the wall at the UTLA Center, an older poster, red, of all the great films made in Texas, which was a promo poster done by the Texas Film Commission a few years ago. ¬†I hope they have to update that poster soon, with new, great films being made in Texas, but ¬†the legislature must seize the opportunity.