Barbara Ann O’Leary’s #DirectedbyWomen
Seed & Spark crowdfunding campaign just passed the halfway mark towards its $20k seed fund goal, with one week left to go. O’Leary envisions a 15-day global film party to celebrate the diversity of female film-making. Most conversations about women filmmakers focus on the lack of women at the helm of major industry vehicles, but O’ Leary would like to bring more attention to the thousands of women creating diverse and dynamic work through a range of practices (i.e. independent, experimental, documentary, shorts, in addition to commercial features). In fact, O’Leary has compiled a list through imdb of over 5,000 female filmmakers that you can check out here
. Screening events will range from grassroots parties to larger events at established cinemas around the world. According to O’Leary, “A successful campaign will position us to extend the invitation far and wide, and give us a chance to create online structures that will make it really easy for people to find out about events celebrating films #DirectedbyWomen.” The BFC/A’s Noelle Griffis corresponded via email with O’Leary to learn more about the project, and the full interview is printed below. The fundraising campaign ends mid-day, Thursday August 7, so follow the Seed & Spark page and spread the word!
Filmmaker and BFC/A graphic designer Joyce “Eli” Bevins created a pitch video for the #DirectedbyWomen Seed & Spark campaign
with her sister and collaborator Lu Bevins. I asked Eli what motivated her to get involved with #DirectedbyWomen, and she responded: “Women directors and filmmakers are often overlooked and underrepresented in the film industry. This campaign is a great way to spread the word about films directed by women, encourages support and it serves as a platform to help women directors and their work obtain more exposure on a global scale. For these reasons I wanted to help Barbra promote and spread the vision of the Directed by Women Campaign. I see this campaign as the next BIG thing for women directors everywhere.”
BFC/A: What is the Directed by Women (#DirectedbyWomen) project?
O’Leary: #DirectedbyWomen is a worldwide Film Viewing Party celebrating women filmmakers and their work. Next year from September 1-15, 2015, film lovers around the world will spend 15 intensive, glorious days watching films #DirectedbyWomen either on their own in what I call Solo Celebrations, in House Parties where they’ll share the experience with family and friends, or at community centers and cinemas where the greater film loving community can come together to enjoy films and show appreciation for the women who directed them. I envision many filmmakers having the chance to participate in person in some events to heighten the sense of appreciation.This is a highly distributed, non-hierachical event so people will be making their own choices about what to screen but the #DirectedbyWomen project will be supporting film lovers throughout the year as we prepare for this event with information that will help them learn about women filmmakers and how to go about arranging screening rights for their work. We’ll also be facilitating sharing about all the events so film lovers can learn about and vicariously enjoy the other celebrations happening around the world.
BFC/A: What motivated you to organize this ambitious global initiative, and what are some of your goals?
O’Leary: One thing that motivated me to launch this party was my growing awareness of the large number of films #DirectedbyWomen. A little over a year ago I casually started a list for my own use, but it quickly grew. At the moment there are 5,384 Women Film Directors active in the past decade on the list. Almost every day more women directors come to my attention, so I’m confident this list reflects a small percentage of the women who are actually out there making films, web series, TV, etc. And yet I hear often that there are very few women directors. It seemed that it would be great to have a fun, engaging way for film lovers to notice and appreciate these films. I made a list of 10 Reasons to Throw a Worldwide Film Viewing Party and shared it online. I’m hoping film lovers around the globe will have a great time finding out about films they didn’t know about or haven’t seen in addition to screening films they’ve already seen and fallen in love with. I’m hoping people will feel empowered to create more opportunities in their own lives and in their communities for films #DirectedbyWomen to be screened and enjoyed. It would be wonderful if women filmmakers found a new level of appreciation for their work with expanded opportunities to create more in the future. Above all I’d like film lovers everywhere to feel excited about being part of a global celebration happening in a concentrated period of time. I chose 15 days, because it felt like it would give everyone sufficient time to work one or more film viewing parties into their busy lives.
BFC/A: Is there something about female film-making (as opposed to other creative or economic ventures lead by women) that makes it a particularly interesting or important site for recognizing gender inequality and celebrating female empowerment?
O’Leary: I’m putting my attention on celebrating filmmakers, because I’m a film lover. I absolutely adore film and I want to see the film world flourish robustly, which to me means being open to creative expression from as diverse a group of film artists as possible. The invitation to focus on women filmmakers is a call to bring greater balance into the film world.To me this process is about embracing creativity wherever it arises. The Global Film Viewing Party is an opportunity to invite men and women to demonstrate their commitment to creating a culture of appreciation and inclusivity within the global film community.
BFC/A: Could you talk a little about how you envision a “global film community”? Is this something extant, or something that we need to develop?
O’Leary: Oh, yeah. Well, I think the global film community is comprised of everyone who makes, shares, or views films or other motion pictures. By the way I like the word film, so I use it. I know there’s a lot of conversation around what language most effectively embraces the changing forms of motion picture expression, but for now I primarily stick with film, but hope people will recognize I include all motion pictures. So my sense of the global film community is that this Global Film Viewing Party has the potential to help people in different parts of the world as well as people who are attracted to different genres and other subcultures to cohere around this one celebration and allow perceptions to shift. It has the potential to facilitate new ways of seeing what is actually being created.
BFC/A: Tell us about the #DirectedbyWomen crowdfunding campaign.
O’Leary: In order to get the Global Film Viewing Party planning off the ground we’re currently in the process of crowdfunding on Seed&Spark, which is a crowdfunding and streaming hybrid platform with a strong commitment to independent filmmaking. Seed&Spark is a curated space so I’m thrilled they invited #DirectedbyWomen to run our campaign in their community. We’re seeking in kind support in addition to money. Anyone excited to support this celebratory approach to raising awareness of women filmmakers and their work can help the campaign get the greenlight by offering cash OR choose the wishlist loan option to volunteer skills, time and energy to the campaign. This is a community engagement initiative so everyone is invited to consider how they can make small or large contributions to help us succeed. Possible ways to contribute include:
* Social media outreach
* Partnership building – what’s that look like to you? Let’s discuss!
* creation of short video essays highlighting films #DirectedbyWomen
* building information about women film directors and their work as a way to inform film lovers and help them choose films to celebrate
* creating Wayfinder Tributes to honor individuals and groups who work tirelessly to make space for women filmmakers to flourish in the worldThanks for the opportunity to share about #DirectedbyWomen. I’ve greatly appreciated BFC/A’s commitment to women filmmakers and have relished the filmmaker visits to IU Cinema, which you’ve helped sponsor. That has also been a real inspiration for this global celebration. I want the entire world to fall madly in love with women filmmakers and their work. We’re going to have a great time and hope film lovers and filmmakers everywhere dive in and enjoy the process.
Directed by Women: a Worldwide Film Viewing Party from O’Leary’s Reel Life on Vimeo.