Tag: Feminism

THE YAEL SHAVITT INTERVIEW

THE YAEL SHAVITT INTERVIEW

Yael Shavitt is humble.

Take a quick glance at Yael Shavitt’s IMDb page, and you will see a considerable list of notable accomplishments.  If you’ve followed her crowdfunding campaign for Split on my facebook page during the last week, or on Split’s actual Seed & Spark page itself, you’ve seen her add some additional exceptional accomplishments.  And yet, over the course of our discussions during the last month, not once — seriously, not once — has she ever given herself a well-deserved pat on the back.  Instead, with her ever-present candor and grace, she is always quick to point out that any recent success she has enjoyed is attributable to two things:  Her female-based production team, and her very loyal followers (in other words, YOU).

I tried to dig a little deeper into Yael as a creative and what makes her tick.  You’ll see her graciousness in her answers, as she always brings it back to her team.  So without further ado,  my interview with Yael Shavitt begins here.

JON:     Good evening Yael. Thank you for letting me ask you a few questions about you and your new project, Split. Describe for my readers the premise, where the idea originated, and why it was important for the protagonist to be female.

YAEL SHAVITT:     Hi, and thank you so much for taking the time to chat! Split is a web series about two possible paths that one life might take. An early decision in a young girl’s life creates a split in her world, sending her off on two parallel paths into alternate futures. A few years ago I simply woke up early one morning with the seed of the idea for Split in my head. I think it literally woke me up. Many drafts and re-writes later I can say that I wanted to explore this premise because in my own life I often look back at events and try to follow the thread connecting them. Sometimes I can clearly see how seemingly unrelated events led to each other. From there it’s an easy path to playing with the thought of taking one of those events out of the equation, and wondering how it would affect the rest of my life. I do believe we need more stories with female protagonists, and I personally both seek out and enjoy consuming these stories. The reason Split’s protagonist is female is because I’m a woman, and I was telling the story through my own eyes. I didn’t make her female as opposed to making her anything else. It was my default. Once the script started taking shape, however, it did become clear to me that I wanted to have a female team of filmmakers leading the project into production. And I’m so happy I made that decision.

JON:     Thank you Yael. You just said the protagonist (Sammy/Sam/Samantha) is a woman because you’re a woman — in addition to your gender, what other parts of you did you bring to the creation of Sammy? Did your upbringing inform her in anyway?

YAEL SHAVITT:     Some elements in my life have certainly inspired parts of the story. Like Sammy, I too auditioned for the theater department of an arts high school at 13. I’ve always felt that the experience of attending that unique school for four years made a big impact on my life. And I think getting into the school or not getting into the school, like any other audition, is as much about luck and circumstances as it is about skill or potential. So that was a crossroad I wanted to look at.

JON:     Of course. That makes total sense, Yael, Split tackles some pretty big themes, such as Destiny and Choice. It brings to mind my personal awareness of the truth that a decision you make on Monday doesn’t just affect the following Tuesday; it affects some event or some person on a Tuesday twenty years into the future. Talk a little bit more about that in general, Yael.

YAEL SHAVITT:     Well, I like to take a positive approach to how I think about this, and I believe that’s influenced my writing as well. Yes, we make a million decisions every day and any one of them may have repercussions we can’t even imagine. But I also think there are certain milestones in our life that we can potentially reach, no matter what path we take. So that one way or another we do get to the places we’re meant to end up at, and we do meet the people we’re meant to meet. And I don’t think we can mess that up with one “wrong” move.

JON:     Interesting. It’s almost as if there’s a larger all-encompassing plan, not our specific plan, that’s going to completed no matter what. Like in Numbers (or In The Wilderness), Moses starts towards the Promised Land with about 70 people — 39 years later, Moses didn’t make it, but over 600,000 people wound up where they were meant to be. The story is in the journey between the Promise and the Place, isn’t it? Speaking of place, the all female team behind Split appears to also be an all New York team. How did you pull this team together, and how does a New York sensibility inform the project?

YAEL SHAVITT:  One of the things I love about New York is that anyone can be whoever they want to be here. It’s such a diverse place, in various respects, and in my experience it’s also a place that’s accepting of diversity. That’s something that I hope to capture in Split. There are different ways to be, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, they’re all legitimate. I want the characters of the show to reflect that. New York is also such a wonderful place to be looking for artistic collaborators, honestly. I found our director Molly McGaughey and our DP Samantha Pyra through their previous work, online. I reached out to each of them, we met up and we clicked. Producer Hannah Hancock Rubinsky and I met a few years ago in a writing class. Together with anther writer from that class we later formed our own little writers group. It was to this group that I brought the very first drafts of Split. So it was so lovely when Hannah decided to come on board as producer!

JON:     That’s all very true about New York. Las Vegas is a lot like that too, and yet the sensibilities are so different. Anyway, this will be the last question, Yael. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, and we should definitely do it again sometime. So, as we close this interviewing, you are preparing to launch your Seed & Spark campaign. Since this interview won’t be released until later, when you are on the verge of some milestone during that campaign, I’d like to skip ahead to the day after the campaign ends. You’re exhilarated and you’re pumped! Your batteries are charged and you’re ready to go! What’s the first thing you do, and then what’s next?

YAEL SHAVITT:     Well, the first thing I’d like to do after the campaign ends is go off for a few days and simply rest. Preferably on a beach. With minimal engagement with technology. After that, my team and I will be going into pre-production and production for the remaining five Split episodes! It’s going to be exciting and challenging, and so much fun. Just like it was when we filmed the pilot, only multiplied by five. I can’t wait!

JON:     In May, I spent 19 days in a cabin in the woods without internet. Great idea on paper. (beat)  On paper.  (long beat)  So… thank you Yael Shavitt for your time. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan for proceeding. You are an awesome interview, by the way. Stay in touch. Don’t be a stranger. I’ll be watching Split’s Seed & Spark campaign, and look forward to watching you hit 100%.  And, of course, when it is completed, I’ll be watching Split!

YAEL SHAVITT:     Sounds good, Jon.  Thank you, I really enjoyed your thoughtful questions as well!  And thanks so much for everything! Let me know if you need anything else.  Cheers.

<><><>

UPDATE:  As of this writing, on 07.10.17,  5:30AM (EST), Split is at 119% of their target goal on Seed & Spark.  HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP.  Would you be so kind as to go to Split’s Seed & Spark page, and follow them?  IT’S FREE, and if they get to 250 followers by the end of the week, Seed & Spark will contribute $10,000 worth of perks to the campaign.

Split team 03

 

Split’s Seed & Spark Page

www.facebook.com/splitwebseries

www.instagram.com/splitwebseriesofficial

www.twitter.com/splitwebseries

www.yaelshavitt.com

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page

 

FEATURE PHOTO (L to R): Molly McGaughey, Yaeel Shavitt, Hannah Hancock Rubinsky

BOTTOM PHOTO (L to R):  Yael Shavitt, Hannah Hancock Rubinsky, Molly McGaughey, Samantha Pyra

 

FEMALE FILMMAKERS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE A 72 HOUR CHALLENGE … IN JUST 7 HOURS !!!

FEMALE FILMMAKERS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE A 72 HOUR CHALLENGE … IN JUST 7 HOURS !!!

ICYMI, I just posted this on my facebook page

[Additional Ed. Notes from me in parenthesis.]

 

*****STOP THE PRESSES*****

So this happened. As Yael Shavitt announced [here]on my Filmic The Page blog Friday morning at 7AM, Split: the Web Series had a matching donor for a 72 hour period to help them reach 100% on their Seed&Spark campaign.

Being the powerful influencer/incentivizer/rocket booster that I am, I had intended on releasing my EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Yael 24 hours before that 72 hour period ended.

Well, #GuessWhatNowWhat. SPLIT became 100% FULLY FUNDED in about 7 hours, not 72. By Friday afternoon they had reached their goal. Thanks to many of YOU (and many others across the interweb).

NOW, it gets even better. I just received this email from Yael and her team announcing her STRETCH GOALS, so let’s not stop now. Besides telling you what a little more $$$ will mean to this female-driven production, NOTE WHAT 250 FOLLOWERS ON SEED & SPARK will give them. Here’s the email:
100% & BEYOND

Dear Split Supporters,

Yesterday was a very eventful day [part 1]…

We reached and exceeded our initial goal of $8,000! You all pitched in so beautifully that we raised $1,015 in a single day (!) which in turn became $2,015 today, after being matched by our Anonymous Donor.

This brings us to 114% of our initial goal. Wow. Wow! And once again, wow!

We cannot thank you enough for the amazing support you’ve shown us throughout this campaign so far.

– Wait, does this mean the campaign is over?

– So glad you asked. Not at all!

The initial $8k goal we set is only a portion of the overall budget we need to produce the remaining five Split episodes.

With 7 days left to the campaign, we’re now setting a STRETCH GOAL of $10,500.

Ending the campaign with this amount would mean we’d only need to secure an additional $5,500 from grants and/or personal funds to produce the rest of the episodes. This will pave the way for us to film these episodes this very summer with the full crew, equipment and mojo we had for the pilot.

So if you’ve been meaning to give, but haven’t had a chance yet, your contribution would still be just as helpful now!

https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/split

Yesterday was a very eventful day [part 2]…

We reached 200 campaign followers yesterday! Hooray! To celebrate we’re sharing this silly Blooper Reel with you, our loyal supporters. Enjoy…

https://youtu.be/hhvCvv8fVJc

Our next target is to reach 250 followers. This will make us eligible for Seed&Spark’s #DiversityIsAlwaysOn Filmmaker Perks ($10,000 worth of perks!). Check it out:

https://www.seedandspark.com/100days/perks

As always, thank you for your continued support,

Hannah, Molly, Pyra & Yael

<><><>

So there you have it. I want to point out that FOLLOWING IS FREE on Seed & Spark, so if you could SHARE this whole post, and we can get them over the 250 followers, they get all those perks ($10,000 worth) AT NO COST TO YOU WHATSOEVER.

Follow, follow, follow. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE.

And speaking of following, you’ll definitely want to follow my blog [this very one you are reading right now] now at www.filmicthepage.wordpress.com because due to this AWESOME turn of events, I will release the interview (FINALLY!!!) on Monday morning.

#FemaleFilmmakers #WomenInHollywood #GenderFairness
#IndieFilm #Indie #Creatives #WomenEmpowerment #Empowerment #Feminism

GENEROSITY TIMES 2

GENEROSITY TIMES 2

Before I let filmmaker Yael Shavitt make her BIG SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT, let me first remind you of the Inclusion Statement for her latest project, a web series, named SPLIT.

Inclusion Statement from Split

We’re proud to have an all-female Creative Team (Producer, Director, DP and Writer/Creator) as well as an all-female on-set production crew. Out of the five main characters in the show, three are women and three are LGBTQ. Our production is committed to casting ethnically diverse actors.

You want to help them get this series made, and help employ all those female filmmakers, right?  Well, not only can you do that — but starting today, 7/7, your generosity has just DOUBLED its efficacy.

Here.  I’ll let Yael Shavitt explain, via her BIG SPECIAL EXCLUSIVE ANNOUNCEMENT:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: a close friend of the production is going to be matching all contributions made July 7-9 (up to $1,000)! That means anything you give on those days is going to be doubled. Give $10 – it becomes $20. Give $50 – it becomes $100. You get the picture!  Here is the link to our campaign:  SPLIT on Seed & Spark.

Our goal for the next few days is to reach 100% (yeah it is!) Lets see if we can get there by the end of the week. We think our special announcement might help 😉

 

And since YOU, my loyal blog followers, have been so loyal to Yael and her team so far, she chose me to EXCLUSIVELY release it here first.  This is my fourth scoop (on three different projects) in 2017.  Now I feel like Nikke Finke!!!   Immediately after this post, Yael will be sharing this big news on her social media (see links below), and I will too.

And look what Yael did for you.  She sent you this EXCLUSIVE picture, NEVER SEEN ELSEWHERE PRIOR TO THIS!

SPLIT commentary_413
SEATED, LEFT to RIGHT: Molly McCaughey (Director), Yael Shavitt (Writer/Creator/Actor), and Hannah Hancock Rubinsky (EP) recording the Director’s Commentary for SPLIT’s pilot episode, last Monday.

That’s pretty cool.

Finally, now here’s MY big announcement:  Last month Yael gave me and exclusive interview (I’m tellin’ ya–I feel like Nikke Finke) and I’m going to release it here, near the end of the anonymous donor matcher’s 72 hour period — 24 hours prior to the end of the matching period on July 9.  A bunch of you have been begging me to release a snippet or two, but nope– you’ve gotta wait, just a couple more days, and then come back here to read it all.

 

Split’s Seed & Spark Page

www.facebook.com/splitwebseries

www.instagram.com/splitwebseriesofficial

www.twitter.com/splitwebseries

www.yaelshavitt.com

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page

TESTING THE JANE TEST

TESTING THE JANE TEST

We all know what the Bechdel test is,  The Bechdel test asks whether a film (or any work of fiction, for that matter) features at least two females who talk to each other about something other than a male.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that on the HAGS Podcast, HAGS co-hosts Riley Rose Critchlow and Nicole Wyland brought up the Jane test during their second episode which centered on INTELLIGENCE.

HAGSnew

What though is the Jane test, and where did it come from?

On twitter, a professional script reader named Ross Putman pulls the introduction of female characters out of screenplays, changes all the characters names to “Jane,” then tweets the description the first time we see them.  Putnam’s findings reveal a superficial focus on a female characters’ looks, and a telling dearth of information about what makes them tick as a person.

Specifically, Putnam examines three things:  1) Does The Introduction Focus on the External Attributes of the Character?  2) Is She a Twenty- or Thirtysomething?  3) Is She Dating Someone Decades Older Than Her?

Here’s where I’m torn:  In RIDING ARISTOTLE, the last feature screenplay I wrote, the protagonist is a female.  It’s 1908, and she is the first female dean of a major university.  The first time we see her, she is splashed in the face when a nearby horse steps in a puddle of water.  So it’s a focus on an external attribute (Rule 1), but it is by no means a sexy description of her physical looks.  Next, she is 37, which would trigger Rule 2.  However, I didn’t write her as 37, to portray her as sexually vibrant, nor anything close to that.  Since she is a fictional character, I wondered what the youngest age that a person could become a dean — and for it still be somewhat believable, but more importantly, remarkable.  The point was she had made amazing achievements in grad school (finishing at 26), then as a professor (five years, making her 31), then as a department head (another 6 years, making her 37) — achievements so large, every step of the way, that they could not be ignored.  She exceled her way up the academic ladder at a time when the odds were stacked against her.  There’s no way THAT’S sexist.  To the contrary, her age is a testament to her advanced abilities.  Lastly, Rule 3 — not only is my protagonist NOT dating an older man, she is married to a much younger man (in 1908, another nod to her independent streak).  On the other hand, I do have an older man chasing her.  Am I guilty of violating Rule 3?  Or am I subverting it, by having my protagonist (SPOILER ALERT) stay loyal to her younger husband?

See what I mean?  A case could be made that my protagonist does not pass the Jane test — but there’s no way my protagonist is anywhere near the same as a lithe Meagan Fox glistening with sweat in her Daisy Dukes in Transformers.  This is not to say that Putnam’s observations are wrong.  I agree with him that there is a problem.  I’m just saying that describing the problem is not as cut-and-dried simple as 1 – 2 – 3.

Clearly there is more to be said about this topic.  This won’t be the last time we discuss the Jane test on this blog.

WHY REBEKAH FIESCHI MATTERS

WHY REBEKAH FIESCHI MATTERS

Before I get sideway glances for touting another Seed & Spark project, let me just say that Rebekah Fieschi ‘s latest project, Sylphvania Grove, has already surpassed 169% of its goal.  Of course, more followers would be great (more followers = more benefits unlocked for the project) — but that’s not the purpose of my blog post this week.  My purpose is to introduce you Rebekah because she has the ability to change the way we see things, as well as the things we see.  I have no doubt she will do both.

Rebekah is an advocate of fair gender representation in filmmaking.  In fact, let me let her tell you in her own words:

“I do not want to be a female filmmaker, I just want to be a filmmaker but I have been thrust into a world in which women are not fairly represented so I’m proud to give nuanced voices to female characters and to be part of the group seeking to transform the industry.”  — Rebekah Fieschi

WHO IS REBEKAH FIESCHI?

Rebekah Fieschi is a New York based writer/director from a tiny island in the south of France who makes peculiar fantasy and gothic horror films through her company Horromance Productions. Her most recent short, Mauvaises Têtes, is an award-winning reinvention of classic Hollywood horror films such as Frankenstein which was well received in film festivals around the world. Her focus is to bring more entertaining, yet layered, character driven gothic horror and fantasy films to the screen. Her career as a storyteller began as a small child, making up elaborate tales to tell her family and friends. This natural talent for make-believe and keen visual imagination, had by age eleven, led her to decide on a directing career. After studying filmmaking in Paris, Rebekah moved to New York in 2010.  Equally important, as I mentioned at the outset, she is also an advocate of fair gender representation in cinema.

In Sylphvania Grove, five of the six characters are female, including the ten-year-old lead, Mycena.  Rebekah and her team want to help empower young girls and contribute to fair gender representation on screen, especially in the fantasy genre. Their writer/director and much of the crew are also women.

SylphvaniaCast

Rebekah explains the lack of female representation in fantasy by stating, “A big reason for the lack of female protagonists in fantasy films is that women are not being hired to direct big budget films and fantasy films typically require larger budgets.”  Rebekah wants to see that change.  She is doing her part to see that it does.
I asked Rebekah why she feels a focus on a young female protagonist is so important to the genre.  She told me:
I remember very strongly that as a kid I wanted to be like a boy and that I felt a sort of shame for being a girl, according to a study recently published in Science girls start believing they are less capable than boys by age six, even though their academic achievements are usually higher. Stories help construct our view of the world and historically in fairy tales, fantasy/adventure movies, books etc. the woman character (if there is one) either has to become a princess or find happiness/be rescued by prince charming or a knight in shining armor. I think it’s important that girls/women don’t have to think of themselves in relationship to boys/men, and that they can have a professional ambition other than becoming a princess. There’s no reason we can’t have female characters that behave the same ways as male characters in movies like The Never Ending Story and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial characters that make decisions and take actions to be in control of their own life. If I can identify with the likes Atreyu, Elliot, Frodo and Harry, I don’t see any reason why boys can’t also identify with girl heroes.
I agree with Rebekah completely, of course.  If you agree with us, put your fingers where your mouth is (ew!) and click over to the Sylphvania Grove page and follow it right now.
Help her get to 500 followers so Seed & Spark will unlock some cool assistance ($9000 worth) for this project.  You can watch a promo clip for it here.  Then watch this blog for excerpts of my upcoming interview with her.
Oh, one more thing,  Rebekah turned me on to this podcast:  PunchFarm Podcast.

I will be blogging about that podcast next.

WHY HAGS MATTER

WHY HAGS MATTER

It’s a podcast, people!!!

As you know, among other things, every week here, I blog about at least one podcast.  Usually it is about an episode of screenwriter John August’s Scriptnotes.  But today, I want to tell you about a brand new podcast I discovered this month.  (Thanks to the women of TeamRAD who put this on my radar.)  In fact, it’s only been around for a month.  New episodes air every Tuesday, so if you start right now, you can get caught up on the back episodes — and it is worth your time to do so.  So, without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, direct your attention to:

HAGS Podcast.

Who are the hosts of HAGS?  From their website:  “HAGS co-hosts Riley Rose Critchlow and Nicole Wyland met on the set of a hit web show and have been creating feminist content together ever since. In 2016, they co-produced a gender-bending parody series called Get Bent, which highlights the way women are portrayed in Hollywood by putting women in the men’s roles and vice versa.”  They have both worked in a variety of positions in the film industry.  More on them at the bottom. 

This week I want to talk about their second episode which centered on INTELLIGENCE.  They discuss, among other things, how intelligence is monetized and commoditized so that a women’s cleverness can be devalued.  The societal value applied to female intelligence is for the benefit of men.  A woman’s intelligence, they argue, is yet just another element of the “full package” making her more attractive to a man.  Rather than say, this education, or her inherent brightness, will serve her well in accomplishing her personal goal, or in serving our planet better, a woman’s intelligence is turned into a commodity for the benefit of the male gaze (well, the male gaze is done by the eyes, so whatever-a-male-brain-does-instead-of-gaze).   And I agree with Riley and Nicole completely — not that their positions need male validation, because they do not.

HAGS

Nicole Wyland (left) and Riley Rose Critchlow (right).

 

I promised more information about these hilarious and insightful feminists.  Here it is, again from their website:

RILEY ROSE CRITCHLOW – HOST

Riley grew up on a small island in Maine, moving to Los Angeles to pursue a BFA in Acting from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts. After graduating, Riley founded sketch comedy troupe Bowling for Tiffany, whose content caught the eye of Funny or Die, Tosh.0 and Discovery. Out of BFT, Riley and fellow comedian, Daniel Montgomery, formed comedy duo Mary-Kate and Ashtray. MKA recently performed at SF Sketchfest and has a pilot slated for completion later this year. Riley has appeared mostly as criminals on such television shows as Southland, Rizzoli & Isles and Marcia Clark’s pilot, Guilt By Association. She is also the lead of Julia Max’s film, Distortion, which is currently touring college campuses as a cornerstone of the Obama/Biden “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault.

NICOLE WYLAND – HOST

Nicole is an actress, writer, and vocalist.  A native of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, Nicole received her degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Pittsburgh before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. She is known for viral videos like freddiew’s “Flower Warfare” which has over 15,000,000 views online. In addition to playing Moriarty on the critically acclaimed webseries Video Game High School,  Nicole writes and performs sketch comedy for her own YouTube channel.  Her parody Lady Gaga music video has been viewed over 12,000 times. Nicole also owns her own production company, Verdant Pine Productions, and is looking forward to producing her first feature later this year.

Next week, I will revisit this same episode, because I want to dig deeper into their discussion of the Jane test for scripts.  (Not the Bechdel test, the Jane test.)  What is the Jane test, and what do I think about it?  You’ll have to come back here next week!