WOMEN IN FILM EDUCATION
at the Mel Hoppenheim
School of Cinema
The WIFE digital gallery showcases 100 photo stories, created by ten female students from the film production program. This on-line exhibition provides a window for readers to witness these emerging female filmmakers’ inner conflicts and struggles with external constraints, as they come to understand the importance of logistics, technology, finances, working conditions, and interpersonal relationships in practice-based film education.
Although the word ‘wife’ is largely associated with heterosexual marriage in contemporary culture, historically, people have also used this word to refer to knowledgeable and skilled women, such as ‘fishwife’ and ‘midwife.’ We employ WIFE as our acronym to evoke critical reflections from a wide audience on notions of “womanhood” in the global film industry.
“In front of them [the jury], I did not seem like a filmmaker. I felt like a sweet young woman in their eyes and I was not taken seriously.”
“At one point, I was carrying heavy equipment and I heard from behind me: “Oh, it’s superwoman!” I thought, “Ok, that’s unnecessary,” You can lift up this light. I can lift up this light. I don’t have to be superwoman.”
“I found out that being a woman means you have to tell [the men] like 50 times, and still they won’t necessarily listen to you.”
“Ever since I was a teenager, I haven’t felt comfortable without makeup on. But I thought it would be more professional if I didn’t put on makeup on my set. I wanted [my crew] to know that I was committed to my film and didn’t focus on my appearance.”
“Feeling powerful in what you’re wearing helps build confidence in the position you occupy on set, since filmmaking is quite a hierarchical industry.”
“Previously, my usual response to a girl holding a camera was associated with anxiety. This moment made me realize that we (women) can do technical work.”
« J’ai toujours été fasciné par les déguisements. Par comment notre apparence extérieure a le pouvoir de convaincre notre intérieur. Ressentant les effets du syndrome de l’imposteur tout au long de mon parcours universitaire, les déguisements peuvent être un pansement efficace pour couvrir les insécurités. »
“I wanted to speak about my [alienating] experience [as DOP] in class. After I got to class, however, I felt I could not because I just felt alone in this situation again.”
“I came to film school only to realize that I don’t want to be a filmmaker. In my culture, there are a lot of oral traditions. I want to explore other possibilities of creating narratives.”
“This women-led set had a very good vibe. Even if we were tired, I really felt that I was in my place."
The majority of the photos are taken by the participants. In some cases, the participants are the subjects of the photographs or the witnesses of the photographed scenes. The accompanying texts are all drawn from our interviews with them, or are written by the participants themselves.
We have identified five major themes: Film Set, Film School, Family& Friends, Woman Directing, and Coping Strategies. We have also created tags for each photo to highlight: 1) the critical threads that connect the themes, and 2) the conflicted emotional journeys that female students went through in film school.