Greetings – we are Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson, guest bloggers for Mama w/Pen. We’re here because our film, SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS opens Friday, May 11 in New York City, then moves on to over ten cities nationwide. It’s a story about technology and self-expression, love and major life changes. Here’s the synopsis:
When technophile Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman) becomes pregnant, her uncertainties about motherhood trigger an impulsive road trip to the source of her anxiety: her long-estranged mother living far away and off-the-grid.
So, yes, our movie features a female tech-head protagonist, and that choice often has us thinking about gender and technology. The New Yorker this week features an article on youth hacker George Hotz, who at 17 was the first person to decode an iphone in order to use his existing data plan. George describes hacking as such to New Yorker writer David Kushner:
“It’s a testosterone thing,” he told me. “It’s competitiveness, but it isn’t necessarily competitiveness with other people. It’s you versus the system. And I don’t mean the system like the government thing, I mean the system like the computer. ‘I’m going to stick it to the computer. I’m going to make it do this!’ And the computer throws up an error like ‘No, I’m not going to do this.’ It’s really a male thing to say, ‘I’m going to make you do this!’ ” (“George Hotz, Sony, and the Anonymous Hacker Wars” by David Kushner, May 7, 2012.)
Is “I’m going to make you do this!” really, um, exclusively male? Granted this is one statement by one individual, but it’s reflective of an idea that’s clearly permeating our culture: that technology is more or less for the boys.
And on to film directing ….
In 2004 The New York Times ran an article by Nancy Hass that praised the number of women working in Hollywood as producers but included a sidebar about women directors that expressed some surprising assumptions. (“Hollywood’s New Old Girls’ Network” by Nancy Hass, April 24, 2005.)
The Dean of USC Film School, Elizabeth Daley, said this to Nancy Hass:
“There are talented girls who want to do this, but so far they haven’t done what the boys do – band together and sacrifice everything to make a small film,” she said. “It’s those films that eventually find their way into the hands of studio executives looking for the next hot young thing.”
And there’s more:
“Young women are less likely to get support, both financial and emotional, from their parents,” Ms. Daley added. “In my experience, parents of girls aren’t as eager to give them their life savings to make a movie,” she said.
A former studio head, who did not give her name in order to protect relationships, said: “The fact is that to be a director you have to be unbelievably ruthless…. They have a cold streak that most women I know don’t have and don’t want to have. They are both artist and commander, and they have a maniacal vision that precludes them from caring about anything but the film.”
Apologies, but denying all women the right to a natural-born cold streak, a maniacal spirit and the right to be, well, bossy – “I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU DO THIS!” — is only relevant if we allow these ridiculous stereotypes to continue to circulate.
Hack female style! And direct movies. We went to a film school wherein half of the class was female – and those women brought to their craft everything unique about themselves, and certainly got their movies made. Filmmaking is as varied in methodology as are the stories that any one individual wants to tell. Our story is about a woman and her love of machines … and how she comes undone in a transition toward parenthood. Watch the trailer here – and hope to see you opening weekend at Cinema Village!
—Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson, co-directors
SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS