Okay, let’s address the female elephant in the room. Her name is Hillary and in her brave, relentless, determined, stubborn, selfish, irresponsible, ridiculous, cunning, dangerous mission to, once again, sleep in the hallowed bed of the White House, she stirred up the question, “Can a woman really lead?” How dare she have tried to usurp that title from the more capable, rational, cold-hearted, assertive, likeable, powerful, alpha-male (insert ANY of the other candidates) who not only has been born to lead (by virtue of being a man), but has been trained to tell folks what the hell to do from the time he was captain of the football team (metaphorically speaking.)
I just had a chat with my neighbor, who asked me why there weren’t more women directors in Hollywood. Ron’s not in the “biz” but his curiosity about it is infinite. I thought about Hillary. Might there be a parallel? Sixteen percent of our current senators are female. Six percent of the top-grossing films were directed by a female. Shocking! Pathetic! I’m going to turn this horrendous state of affairs around, so help me, Tara!
First, I have a few theories on the lack of female directors:
1. Woman don’t say “f**k” enough. We (well-bred young ladies) don’t curse. But that is exactly what the big boys do behind closed doors. Relentlessly. I have it from a reliable source that behind those hallowed studio doors, filth and gutter-speak spews out of the mouths of producers and agents and directors and writers. It’s like a free-for-all locker room.
Well, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. I’m willing to out-curse the toughest, roughest, meanest studio dude I run up against. I’ll amass an entire litany of curse words. Unfortunately, due to the dearth of true curse words in the English language, I find myself limited to one: F**k. But one that has a phantasmagoria of usages. It can be an adjective, a noun, a verb and an adverb! Possibly even a split infinitive, but I’ll have to do some additional research…
What lush opportunities. F**k this f**king f**ker and may he go to f**king hell. How creative is that? Use one single word in a plethora of twist and turns.
In my other culture, Finland, they have umpteen ways to send you over the rainbow. And they’re all names of devils. Possibly because of the long dark winter, devils abound in Finland. They also use the nasty version of the word for vagina as their premiere f**k stand-in. Still, they splice all that vagina cursing with enough devilry to make it interesting. I’ve heard drunken Finnish moviemakers cursing and it ain’t a pretty sight.
I’m ready. Bring it on. I’m going to my first studio agent, producer, producer, producer, producer, producer, executive producer and executive producer meeting armed with every known and unknown manifestation of f**k.
As we discuss my next directing gig—an $80,000,000 mega sequel that will be a perfect follow-up to my $150,000 indie pic (don’t tell my distributors! They think I spent $250,000), I’ll be wearing my worn jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap with “The Foot Fist Way” emblazoned on it. Those idiots all loved that film. I don’t know! Where does that come from? Testosterone? Male-bonding rituals? Too many drunken frat nights watching Porky’s? I’m stumped.
Anyway, when in Rome. So I plop my butt on their shiny black couch and most of them barely notice that I’m a girl. And then I let loose. “F**k yeah, I’d totally dig directing the next Spider-man feature for your f**king amazing studio.” Mr. Producer and you, Mr. Producer and you and you and all you rockin’ (do they say rockin’ anymore?) producers, I’ll kick some f**kin’ butt! Let’s get the hottest f**kin’ Hollywood babe to play Spidey’s next gal pal. F**k yeah! It’ll rock! Who the f**k wrote this f**king script? It rocks! No, you don’t have to talk to my f**king agent. He’s an asshole. Where’s the f**king dotted line? Someone give me a pen.
As Louise Hay says, I can do it.
So, we can curse. What else keeps us from dominating Hollywood?
2. Women can’t fire people. Women are designed to be Florence Nightingale. They want to save people, not eradicate them. They want to help. I used to be that way. Until my fifth boyfriend.
So, when push comes to shove, and you really need to fire that f**king DP, what are you going to do? You’re the king of the set. You need to stand tall, stand tough and get rid of the jerk-off. But how? Sure, Queen Elizabeth was ultimately blamed for Mary’s beheading, but her male ministers orchestrated it, made the actual command and took the rap at the time.
Hell, if the lady director could just say, “Move your f**king (Ah! That word!) camera over there, asshole,” then they probably wouldn’t have to worry about firing the dude. The director would just earn respect, you know, street cred. But we women are too nice. (See #3.)
NOTE: I have a system that I put into operation years ago. The first day on the set, I say “no,” whether I mean it or not, to the first request of the DP. I figure, if we don’t get the “who’s boss around here” out of the way immediately, we may run into trouble down the road.
3. Woman are too nice. There’s a difference between leading a family and leading a production. A family boss never sacrifices a child for the good of all, no matter how annoying the little tyke may be. Directors do. This may seem irrational, but sometimes you need to cut loose a couple pounds of dead weight in order for the whole balloon to fly.
4. Married women are a problem. Single women are a bigger problem. You hire a married woman, she’s boring. Won’t go out drinking with the guys after the shoot or after late-night pre-production meetings. Won’t sleep with the guys. Single women, on the other hand, will go out drinking, but they won’t sleep with you either, so what’s the point?
5. Women rarely exhibit stupid humor. This makes them very intimidating. Men have to be on their best behavior. They are constantly in danger of being misunderstood and/or charged with sexual harassment. If we women, would just stop being so smart and serious and just dredge up some healthy bathroom humor and off-color sexual remarks, we’d be hired left and right.
Would I be an asshole if it meant getting a gig on an $80 million studio feature? I’d like to think I wouldn’t need to be. Despite some of my observations, I have high hopes for the transformation of Hollywood and the future of female directors.
Now, girls, can we all say, “Hell yeah, I’ll take that half mil paycheck and, by the way, you’re fired!” in unison!!!
Eternally optimistically yours,
Anne Norda is an award-winning artist, writer, director and producer with one feature, Red Is the Color Of (Best Feature Film, 2007 LA Femme Film Festival), under her belt. She was born in North Hollywood, schooled at the Parsons School of Design and was a Fulbright Scholar in photography. She’s a Finnish and U.S. citizen and has lived in Paris, Helsinki, LA, NY and Bangkok. Her dream is to run a major movie studio. Or be a Pulitzer prize-winning poet and dedicate her life to art and the transformation of humanity. Whichever may come first.