This chapter examines womens independent filmmaking with respect to the production and distribution. The analysis is based on the experiences of celebrated filmmakers such as Julie Dash, Nancy Savoca, Leslie Harris, Rose Troche, Allison Anders and Lynn Hershman. The chapter incorporates the works and views of film directors that overtly promote feminist ideologies and those that cannot be easily linked to feminism. The main argument in the chapter revolves around how their place in major independent cinema is affected by their feminine status their race, ethnicity, or sexual identity notwithstanding. The chapter based its argument on separate historical periods of 1989 to 1993 and from the late 1990s to 2001 (Lane, 2013). Women that made strides in the film industry as concerns directing during the two periods are discussed to illustrate the struggles they encountered in the industry and how their female status contributed towards their prosperity.
Notes on Women on the Verge of an Indie Explosion 1989-1993
1. This period had directors such as Savoca, Anders, Harris, and Dash that capitalized on the wave of feminist movement and released their films. Studios such as Miramax and New Line played a significant role in the production and distribution of the content (Lane, 2013).
2. The women directors were however, at a disadvantage as regards competition because of two crucial factors. First, the manner in which some film festivals moved from grassroots venues and into mainstream publicity events and the acquisition of independent and major studios did not favor the directors (Lane, 2013). Second, exhibition also shifted because independent cinema made by women stopped showing in art theaters, museums, and schools and moved to multiplexes where the major distributors focused on turning profits instead of making a statement (Lane, 2013).
3. Warner Bros hired Savoca to direct Dog Fight (1991) after the success of True Love (1989) (Lane, 2013). The film performed poorly after its marketing support was withdrawn when Savoca refused to change the films conclusion into an optimistic ending. Her subsequent films became even harder to finance. Julie Dash on the other hand encountered challenges in the promotion and distribution of her feminist productions because Hollywood executives were convinced that her content did not have an audience.
4. Cable networks such as HBO have been instrumental in promoting and distributing content from women directors because they offered creative freedom and financing opportunities to them (Lane, 2013). Nevertheless, little recognition has been accorded to digital features that have been directed by women. Hence, technological advancement has done little to alter the imbalanced gender power.
The Comings and Goings of the Up-and-Coming, 1994-1999
1. Womens productions through the mid and late 1990s were influenced by the spread of producer-auteur and intensification of commercial auteurism (Lane, 2013). These factors helped directors such as Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner to connect with their audience and enjoy relative success. However, when Troche tried to make other mainstream films, her efforts were frustrated in the initial stages and she concluded that there was discrimination against women in the industry.
2. Other directors such as Lynn Hershman encountered production and distribution challenges when they attempted to incorporate feminist ideas into their features.
1. The career paths of these women all illustrate the gender bias that exists in independent filmmaking. This is highlighted by the challenges and pressure that the women are subjected to right from development to reception of their features.
2. Sundance Film Festival has also contributed towards the underperformance of films made by women
List of References
Lane, C. (2013). Just another girl outside the Neo-Indie. In C. Holmlund, & J. Wyatt, Contemporary American Independent Film: From the margins to the mainstream (pp. 193-209). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
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