What does the female voice sound like; what is her point of view; is she the Other; can we identify her? Is she who I'm supposed to be?
"What's the solution to more accurate representations of women in media today? Well more and more women need to get behind the cameras, write the scripts and make the women we see match the women we are."
We're two women in our mid-20s who look at mainstream entertainment today and wonder: where are the women like us?
The characters we see are painfully one dimensional, small snippets of the glorious female life that could and should be celebrated with all its complexities and without unnecessary value judgments.
Imagine what it's like growing up watching the unnatural stereotypes that pose as complete women. Imagine how the stereotypes seep into your own understanding of gender and relationships, of identity, of purpose. Imagine what it's like growing up female when all the ads in every magazine are so perfectly photoshopped and many of the (largely voiceless, unimportant) women on TV have a body weight so low that they can't even menstruate - yeah, it's serious, it's insulting and it's adversely affecting not only our generation but also the next generation of kids who have had an even heavier dose of “reality” TV.
How do we know? Well...
(We know lots of people don't want to listen to the messages everyone receives from the media and we know equal numbers of people think that everything is "just fine" - all we can say to that is, no, things are not fine and that's very well understood in the study of media literacy, culture and gender.)
Things aren't "fine," in fact:
- At age seven young girls and boys equally say they want to be President of the United States. However, just eight years later, at the age of 15, those same girls claim to no longer "care."
- At least 92% of girls admit to being dissatisfied with their bodies; in fact girls first start dieting at age seven in overwhelming numbers.
- And finally one in five women in the US has been sexually assaulted and in college the odds are one in three - however, by overwhelming numbers, girls and women do not report rape.
Why? Perhaps in our society we victimize the female, assuming she must have "asked for it" in some way; perhaps our society teaches, yes teaches, body dissatisfaction and the tools of the dieting trade; perhaps our society pokes fun of women in power, delegitimizes them, and in turn says that the female intellectual does not matter.
And perhaps the mainstream entertainment is the root of the problem.
Over the past few months we began an online media campaign called "Brain Versus Body" to encourage media consumers to recognize that, as women, we don't have to chose between our brains and our bodies; in fact we can have both. In addition, we shot a series of five shorts, "The Damsel Collections," that frame the five major stereotypes of women in mass media: virgin versus whore, home-maker versus home-wrecker, women full of emotion versus women without emotion, type-A versus drop out, cheerleader versus nerd.
Why did we make these shorts? Well, there are awesome nonprofits and media literacy thinkers throughout the country addressing lots of the issues above; however, as filmmakers, we felt a responsibility to look at the most basic storytelling conventions and stereotypes and find our part in the mess. When we did, we not only found the five stereotypes but also found an overwhelming generalization of women within media. We also saw an opportunity to expose this stereotype.
That's what "And So I Close My Eyes" is for. It's a feature length film that explores the after-effects of a young woman, Jamie, who experiences a traumatic event and, in the process of recovery, learns that she is "expected" to face her healing in one of three ways: to fight, to survive or to become the victim. To decide whom she is supposed to live up to in terms of her recovery, Jamie sinks into a film-noir, dreamy exposé where she literally puts the femme fatale in a room with the "female victim" and the "acting like the boys" female survivor. Who is Jamie supposed to be? The film is an exploration of female stereotypes and the societal expectations of who we are supposed to be “when we grow up.” Lots of attention has gone into making sure that there are no negative messages within the script however *spoiler* some female stereotypes are used thoughtfully to convey our larger message: stereotypes do not work.
It's a simple question: how much is the female voice framed in the male-dominated culture we live in? And how do we fix it? We can start with making new stories from a truly female perspective, from women versed in media literacy whose top priority is to have authentic female voices be heard. We can start with us.
On our team is LAURA VOGELS, the producer for "And So I Close My Eyes" and one-part of the "Brain Versus Body" campaign. By her side is JORDAN LEE KNAPE, the writer/director for "And So I Close My Eyes" and the other part of the "Brain Versus Body" campaign. By her side is SELIM BENHABIB the Director of Photography for "And So I Close My Eyes (yes: he's a guy... we didn't say we wanted women to take over the world, we just want women to be heard as relevant and authentic equals!!!). By his side is ALI WEDEWER, the film editor for "And So I Close My Eyes." And by her side is ELI BRANDWEIN, the sound mastermind for "And So I Close My Eyes." We're expanding our team on the daily and will be sure to update this as the list grows longer.
Finally, our total budget required is $51,000; however, we decided to break the feature down into production and post-production. $25,000 covers everything we need for production. As scheduled now, "And So I Close My Eyes" will be shot over the course of April and May in both New York City and Dallas.
How to Pledge?
Just click on the green "Back This Project" button in the upper right-hand corner. You'll be asked to input your pledge amount and select your reward! From there, you'll go through an Amazon checkout process. You must finish this process to successfully pledge to this project!
What if we don't reach our goal?
The project isn't funded unless we meet our goal by April 2nd. If we don't reach our goal, no one is charged a penny. It's all or nothing! (Eeeks!)
Can we exceed our goal?
Yes, we can! Our goal of $25,000 is actually half the amount we need to fully finish the project so any more will go towards post-production. Trust us, every penny counts and as smart, resourceful women, those pennies are being used wisely. To look over the budget check out the image in the video or just shoot us an email for an in-depth look. It goes without saying: we are not paying ourselves with these funds (thanks Selim, Ali and Eli for taking this on with us for the cause!!!). Every penny earned on Kickstarter will go towards the feature, something that we plan on giving back to you in terms of raising even more awareness within the "Brain Versus Body" campaign and providing a new alternative to the same-old hurtful stereotypes and storytelling conventions.
Can I pledge if I don't live in the United States?
Yes, you can still support this project if you live outside of the United States.
What will be done with the feature?
The film is intended for the film festival circuit. Once post-production is completed all film festivals will be hit hard by "And So I Close My Eyes."
What if the feature is not accepted into any big festivals?
All is not lost! Distribution is a possibility whether that be in hard copy form or online. We are dedicated to exposing the stereotypes, the futile "Brain Versus Body" fake-choice and the need for authentic female voices both behind and in front of the camera (let's not forget "progressive" can be entertaining too!). That being said, we will make sure that your money is used to directly affect change both within the industry and amongst audience expectations and demands.
Please e-mail us at talk@tallgirlproductions with any questions or comments. To talk directly with the producer please email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org and to talk with the writer/director Jordan please email email@example.com.
Want to help more?
Join the conversation on our facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tall-Girl-Productions, talk with us on twitter at: @TallGirlProds; visit our website: tallgirlproductions.com and spread the word to your friends and family.
Real change can't happen in this media world if we don't all start standing up for it one real voice at a time.
And don't forget: WALK TALL.
Jordan and Laura
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
pledged of $25,000 goal
seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on April 2, 2012.
Feb 20, 2012 - Apr 2, 2012
Pledge $1 or more
It takes a village + no donation goes unnoticed, the beauty of crowd sourcing is that a buck really does matter. So thank you! We will tweet/facebook our gratitude for you and your awesome ability to do the math: $1 goes such a long way.Estimated delivery: Apr 2012
Pledge $5 or more
WEBSITE THANK YOU + YOUR VERY OWN ORIGINAL STILL PIC. Laura will pick out her favorites and send a special one your way, because, when push comes to shove, you can always count on Laura (the producer) to do her better-than-best.Estimated delivery: Jul 2012
Pledge $10 or more
PICK A FRIEND. Participate in the Ultimate Fundraising Championships and help your team win! Are you part of Team Ali Wewewer, Team Selim Benhabib, Team Jordan Lee Knape, Team Laura Vogels or Team Eli Brandwein? Punches will be thrown and there will be blood; help bring your friend to victory now! And remember: in the Ultimate Fundraising Championships there can only be one winner. Ready up it's going to be a fight to remember. Check out our Tall Girl Productions Facebook page for more.Estimated delivery: May 2012
Pledge $10 or more
POWER OF TEN! With T minus 7 days of fundraising left, our feature could be totally funded if just 1,336 people back us with $10 each. To say thank you we will put your name in our credits and, of course, on our website as a major benefactor!Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $30 or more
ABOVE + THANK YOU IN CREDITS. Because it's true: we all want to see our name on the big screen. :)Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $35 or more
BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO WITH MEET THE CAST/CREW + EVERYBODY’S FAVORITE: BLOOPERS + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS. Because we all know: indie bloopers are the best (passionate, exhausted and probably insane? Yeah, that’s the recipe for funny.Estimated delivery: Oct 2012
Pledge $50 or more
BEST-READ EVER. "How to Date a Feminist Girl" an ibook courtesy of Selim the DP/boyfriend who has not only survived but thrived in dating a woman with a lot of things to say (otherwise known as Jordan the writer/director). He'll spill his advice, his warnings and his bag of tricks so you can kill it with your girl. Word to the wise: this is a must-read for all people.Estimated delivery: Aug 2012
Pledge $70 or more
FILMMAKER INTERVIEW VIDEO + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO. Want to know more about the indie filmmaking biz? Want to hear the ideas behind the film and have the director and producer walk you through some of their favorite scenes with the rough cut footage? Now is your chance.Estimated delivery: Oct 2012
Pledge $100 or more
SOS VIDEO FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO +FILMMAKER INTERVIEW + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY. Know a young woman in need of some R&R (recommendations and reimaginings)? We were there once, too. Send us her (or his!) information and what you think would help and Laura and Jordan will make a personal 5 minute video to offer our support, seriously! We'll send you a special private link to view it/forward it to your loved one.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $300 or more
SOS LETTER FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + SOS VIDEO FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO +FILMMAKER INTERVIEW + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY. Some people say the days of long, thoughtful, handwritten notes are dead - we're not of that variety. Instead we believe in the power of words, that storytelling can change lives. Send us the information of your special someone in need (we love helping out young women as we've been there and have so much to say however, of course, we talk to all people!) and we'll take the real time required to write a hand-written letter of inspiration and encouragement and send it their way.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $500 or more
PRODUCT PLACEMENT. These days getting your name out is hard and it's even more complicated with our brands. We'll lend you a helping hand and feature your company as a sponsor on our website/social media platforms and also feature your company promininetly within the feature. Because, hey, we live in an ad world after all.Estimated delivery: May 2012
Pledge $700 or more
TALK WITH FILMMAKERS + SOS LETTER FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + SOS VIDEO FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO +FILMMAKER INTERVIEW + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY. Need to talk? Come on over! Laura and Jordan will chat with you for 45 minutes about whatever you require, whether that be filmmaking or gender representation and media literacy. Not in NYC, no problem! Skype dates work for us.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $1,000 or more
ACT YOUR HEART OUT TALK WITH FILMMAKERS + SOS LETTER FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + SOS VIDEO FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO +FILMMAKER INTERVIEW + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY. Jordan and Laura started out as actors and know: it's hard getting a leg up in the biz, especially for progressive roles and projects that you admire. We've got a good amount of awesome parts just waiting to be cast however, if you don't fit the bill, we'll write one for you. Seriously! This is a collaborative effort and the more voices (literally) the better. PS: want to help out your little aspiring actor? We still need to cast THREE leading roles for young women in the script - and who said women were always supporting? (Really when have so many leading female roles been in one script!?!) Hopefully you live in or around Dallas or NYC and can make the trip - we're nice on set so have no fear it'll be a rewarding experience. PPS: these are no simple walk-ons, we're serious about helping your career too. SO: you kickstart us and we'll kickstart you.Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $1,250 or more
GET YOUR SONG HEARD + TALK WITH FILMMAKERS + SOS LETTER FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + SOS VIDEO FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO +FILMMAKER INTERVIEW + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY. You've got music? We've got a feature. We need all sorts of sounds for this feature so whether you're in a band, a solo singer, in an orchesta or a mixologist pro, we'll work you in not only prominently but awesomely. We know it's tough luck being in the music industry these days. Let's change that.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $3,000 or more
EXECTUVE FREAKIN' PRODUCER CREDIT + GET YOUR SONG HEARD + TALK WITH FILMMAKERS + SOS LETTER FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + SOS VIDEO FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO +FILMMAKER INTERVIEW + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY. You've got music? We've got a feature. We need all sorts of sounds for this feature so whether you're in a band, a solo singer, in an orchesta or a mixologist pro, we'll work you in not only prominently but awesomely. We know it's tough luck being in the music industry these days. Let's change that. Does god exist? We're believers. Thanks from the bottemest parts of our hearts. We'll shout your name out everywhere we can and on the big screen, yep, you'll see your name or company in the credits and even on IMDB if you so wish. AS A FREAKIN' EXECTUIVE PRODUCER!Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
Pledge $5,000 or more
Wow, you are life-changing, life-altering, forever in our thank you's. Thanks to you new stories for women will be created and because of that we will work with you to create something equally as fantastic, special and life-supporting. We can't promise you a pony but we are female and we are filmmakers so the sky is pretty much the limit. :) In addition, of course, to: EXECTUVE PRODUCER CREDIT + GET YOUR SONG HEARD + TALK WITH FILMMAKERS + SOS LETTER FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + SOS VIDEO FOR YOUR LOVED ONE IN NEED + STILL PIC + WEBSITE THANK YOU + NAME IN CREDITS + BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO W/ MEET THE CAST/CREW + BLOOPERS VIDEO +FILMMAKER INTERVIEW + ROUGH CUT FOOTAGE WITH COMMENTARY.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012