Tag Archives: Film Director

3 Female-Led Movies That You Should Pay Attention To

It can be hard out there for a female filmmaker. Not only is the movie industry not interested in making films about women, but they also aren’t particularly interested in letting women make films either. Especially if those women are not heterosexual, not cisgendered or are women of colour.

For that reason, it can be very difficult for female-led and female-focused films to get funding and many of them have to turn to crowdfunding. Crowdfunding can also be a great way for creators to get the word out about their projects too and so with that in mind, we’ve put together this list of three female-led movies that you should pay attention to.

1. Wedlocked

The talk of LGBT human rights has almost been entirely dominated by debates about same-sex marriage. While many argue that same-sex marriage isn’t as important as say, protection from discrimination in the workplace, same-sex marriage is a big deal. So why is it then that so few people ever talk about same-sex divorce?

Wedlocked is a comedy but it riffs off of the director’s real life experience. It looks at the issue of getting married in one state that has legalised same-sex marriage but living in one that doesn’t permit it; what happens when you want to get divorced but the state you reside in won’t allow it? One of the director’s friends was actually forced to move all the way to Los Angeles, California just to fulfil the state’s residency requirements so that he could get a divorce.

Of course this situation may change with the upcoming Supreme Court ruling that will decide whether or not the entirety of the United States has to legalise marriage equality. But for now, Wedlocked is going full steam ahead having raised $27,050 of its $30,000 goal.

2. Who Owns Yoga?

who owns yoga

Yoga originates in India where the practice is commonly used in Hindu and Buddhist teachings and principles. However, in the 1950s Yoga became massively popular in the West and now everyone from flexible atheists to fitness focused Christians take part in yoga every single day.

In addition to being something that Westerners just do, yoga is also a billion dollar business. From how-to books, DVDs and the many membership classes that we can sign up for at the gym, yoga has gone from being a free tool of expression and learning to a commercialised feature in our society. Given yoga’s religious origins, the practices’ popularity often raises the question of ‘is this okay?’

Who Owns Yoga? is a documentary that also wants to explore this, covering commercialisation, the cultural and financial implications and they also talk to yoga practitioners and those who no longer see yoga as they used to. The film hit its $20,000 goal and will be released in July.

3. Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl

If you live outside of the United States, it is highly unlikely that you know what ‘Geechee’ is or what it means (my word processor even considers it a spelling mistake), nor is it likely that you’ve ever heard of Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor. Vertamae Smart- Grosvenor is one of the most important figures in American history.

Geechee most likely comes from the ‘Ogeechee’ River near Savannah, Georgia. The Geechee people are descendants of enslaved Africans and they live in South Carolina and Georgia. Vertamae is a proud Geechee girl and having been heavily inspired and influenced by her heritage, she has travelled the world as a writer (she was a huge part of the beat literary movement), a costume designer and she has also released several cookbooks including Vibration Cooking or The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl.

Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl is a documentary based on Vertamae’s life that looks at her career as she travelled all around the world, taking in part of some of the most significant social, historical and cultural movements of our time. Vertamae’s story is one that very much needs to be told and having raised $33,000 of its $50,000 goal (it has flexible funding and so received all of the funds raised) it finally will be.

A Chat with Caryn Hayes, Writer / Director who Doesn’t like Labels

Tom Sykes: You have recently released your short film ‘Clean Hands’, which is about a lesbian couple caring for a terminally ill man. Where did the idea for that come from?

Caryn Hayes: I wanted to do a story about a couple who don’t believe in the same things; one partner is pretty religious and the other is not. I was just fascinated by this kind of relationship and the script just kind of ballooned from there. On a storytelling level I thought it would be pretty gripping for an audience.

TS: Does the film explicitly deal with LGBT issues or are you just trying to tell a story? Could you substitute the lesbian couple for a straight couple or any other kind of couple and still tell the same story?

CH: I wanted to write something that anyone could relate to, but at the same time it is important for me to tell lesbian stories. Beyond that, the main characters could have been a gay or a hetero couple and the film would still work, I think.

TS: It was premiered at the 2014 Pan African Film Festival. Is there a kind of ethos behind that festival?

CH: It’s about promoting movies by directors from Africa itself and also from the African diaspora all over the world. It was held in Los Angeles.

TS: On Kitschmix we’ve reported on the growing problem of homophobia in Africa. Did you experience any hostility at this festival or at any other point in your career?

CH: I think that there’s a quite a bit of homophobia in every community including in the African diaspora. With Clean Hands we haven’t encountered any, at least not so far. It hasn’t been released worldwide yet. At the Pan African Film Festival people just really wanted to watch the movie, nobody wanted to come see it just so they could criticise or bash it. So the response has been pretty positive so far.

TS: Before this film you had made some very successful web series – The World of Cory and Sid and Breaking Point. To what extent does Clean Hands build on that work, or has evolved from it? Are there similar themes in those series that you’ve revisited in your latest offering?

CH: Clean Hands is very different to what I’ve done previously. My most recent series, The World of Cory and Sid, is a dramedy about relationship break-ups amongst roommates and the awkwardness that goes with that. Breaking Point is like a soap opera, a light drama, where there are murders the characters get away with. The only similarity with Clean Hands is that both works have a parent who is not accepting of her daughter’s bisexuality. But then again I wouldn’t say Clean Hands really builds on previous work because we don’t spend so much time on the mother-daughter relationship in the new movie. With Clean Hands I wanted to create a heavier, more serious kind of drama.

TS: Do you prefer writing that heavier dramatic stuff to writing comedy?

CH: It really depends on my mood. In general, I prefer dramedy because I can go wherever I need to go, but in the future I want to do more drama that’s rooted in real-life experience.

TS: You also write fiction.

CH: I’ve written short stories and started novels which I’ve never finished!

TS: How does the process of writing a short story differ from that of a screenplay?

CH: I approach them in the same way. The difference is that you have to do more describing and explaining in fiction whereas you spend more time on dialogue in a screenplay or teleplay. I started writing fiction when I was young and then later on I fell in love with the idea of writing for the screen. Then again, I do want to complete at least one novel and one day I’ll take a vacation and get it completed!

TS: Do you have a routine you follow when you write?

CH: I write best in the mornings. When a deadline’s coming I set my alarm to go off three or four hours before I need to wake up. I have a little playlist, so whatever I’m writing I try and match the mood with the music. If I’m working on something dramatic then I put on film scores, that kind of thing.

TS: What kind of artists do you listen to when you’re writing comedy?

CH: It would depend on what comedy it is. If it’s an “angry chick movie” kinda thing – because I’ve written a couple of those already – it’d be someone like Pink as I find her lyrics just so funny. ‘Like So What’ is a great song. It tends to be more poppy stuff when I’m doing comedy.

TS: You’ve been described as a ‘shining example’ of a lesbian who has made it in Hollywood. How was the journey?

CH: I don’t like labels, but with that said it’s true that I’m a lesbian and an African-American. I wouldn’t have said that the journey was more or less difficult because of my sexuality. It’s difficult for everyone. Being a black lesbian didn’t make it harder of course, but it didn’t make it easier either.

The journey’s been long because I’ve been on it for a long time and I’ve been creating my own content for 5 or 6 years now. That may not seem like such a long time comparatively because it takes other people a lot longer!