"Find your passion and act on it, you are your biggest hold back" - Interview to Beatrice Sutcliffe
1. Introduce yourself
Hi, my name is Beatrice Sutcliffe and I am final year BA (hons) English and Film student at Royal Holloway University of London.
My passion for film and gender representation led me to write and direct a spoken-word-poetry short film called 'WOMAN', which highlighted female subordination in society and female empowerment. It was selected by the Moonfaze Feminist Film Journal as their official November 2018 selection.
I was interviewed by BBC Newsbeat on the #4percentchallenge to discuss how we are still living in the dark ages of female representation in the creative industry.
In the article I also shared the exciting news that I was going to be curating my first film festival with Like Minded Females, at Genesis Cinema called the “Women in Film” Festival.
2. What’s the “Women in Film” Festival?
Hosted by the award-winning female-empowerment network Like Minded Females, the “Women in Film” Festival is a short-film festival celebrating old and new female-filmmakers in the heart of East London at Genesis Cinema, Saturday 1st June 2019.
Selected female-filmmakers from around the country will be invited to showcase their ground-breaking work, followed by a Q&A panel where they can discuss their work, being a female in a male dominated industry, breaking stigmas and empowering the future female-filmmakers to come.
3. What happens at the Women in Film Festival?
Approximately 5-8 short films (max 10 mins. each) will be showcased at the beginning of the festival. The female creators of these films and other invited successful women in the industry will then participate in a Q&A panel, hosted by myself and Caroline Wilson from UNDR LNDN.
The amazing panel includes: Teng Teng Films, MsMono, Photographer/Filmmaker Jasmine De Silva, Award-winning documentary filmmaker Victoria Mapplebeck, Gurls Du Filme, Marcie MacLellan BAFTA nominated producer, She Does Filmz and Jacqueline Pepall. With a few more new female-filmmakers that are yet to be announced.
After the Q&A panel, all attendees and guests will be invited to socialise and network in a more informal area, in the cinema's bar area. I wanted to include this in the event, as I believe that it is important for women who are aspiring to work in the creative industry to make connections with experienced female-filmmakers.
4. How do you go about choosing the female-filmmakers?
When selecting the female-filmmakers, I wanted to include a diverse range of women; from those who are experienced in the industry and those who are new. I want to showcase work with a unique visual story, that contains personal and empowering messages. Therefore it was important to select female-filmmakers of all races, sexualities and backgrounds- everyone has a story to tell.
5. Which directors do you admire for creating rounded female characters?
I love Sofia Coppola’s work! Her female characters always seem to have complex emotional narratives and there is something slightly gritty about them- they are captivating!
I’m equally excited for Greta Gerwig’s work. Her coming-of-age quirky female characters bring something fresh to films about young women. They are awkward and relatable, depicting a realistic experience of puberty without them being sexualised.
6. Why do you think the film industry has been so male orientated over the years?
I recently read that female-filmmakers are too scared to take on large blockbuster Hollywood films and that it why there is little female-directed Hollywood blockbusters. What a load of sh*t! Hollywood has predominantly been dominated by white heterosexual business men, who not only want to make films that will satisfy their own desires but are also not willing to risk change at the cost of losing box office profit.
It is not that female-filmmakers are “too scared”, it is that they have not been given the opportunity. In 2017, Patty Jenkins proved this with Wonder Woman’s phenomenal worldwide gross of $821.8 million. Female-filmmakers have dominated the indie genre with beautiful pieces of filmmaking, studios are simply just not willing to take the risk in hiring women for the larger big-budget films. However, in the past couple of years we have definitely seen a change in the industry with more women being allowed to be involved in the film industry. It’s a small change, but a change is better than none at all.
7. How can films be used to tackle discrimination against women?
First of all eliminate the male gaze in films. Women are constantly sexualised and objectified in films which not only subordinates the female body as an object for the male gaze, but young women begin to believe this is how they should look and therefore develop mental health issues surrounding their body image.
Secondly, depict ALL kinds of women- surprisingly we don’t all look the same! Stop giving women shallow narrative arcs in films; complex-narrative films that focus on female protagonists who are experiencing and overcoming real struggles in life is so empowering.
8. Do you think young people are more aware of feminism in recent years?
Yes, but we still have a long way to go. There seems to be this stigma surrounding feminism. Some people seem to believe a feminist is someone who burns their bra and only believes in a superior matriarchy.
Some women are frightened to speak out against gender inequality and name themselves a feminist, which is so sad. That is why it is so important for those who are able to use their voice to draw attention to gender inequality- this includes men and women.
I think the TimesUp movement in Hollywood has been a big impact on this with celebrities using their platforms. The younger generation that are more involved with social media are also becoming more political and outspoken. Despite some people being reluctant to label themselves a feminist, it is the mindset and action on gender equality that matters.
9. What advice would you give to any young people looking to start working in the film industry in UK?
Find your passion and act on it- you are your biggest hold back. Don’t wait around for “the right moment” or tomorrow, the film industry is fast pace and they want people who are driven and can show it. Believe in your capabilities and put them into action. Most phones these days have amazing cameras and you can easily shoot a short-film on a phone, with no filming budget.
Secondly believe in your voice, contact and collaborate with like-minded people from all over the world on projects. Social media is an amazing tool for reaching out to people, so don’t be afraid to email those already in the industry.
The “Women in Film” Festival has been curated on no budget, as we are a non-profit network, this meant I had to send out lots of emails asking if people wanted to be involved for free. More often than not, people do want to involved especially if they share your passion!