What is Hard Hatted Woman About?
Hard Hatted Woman is the first feature documentary film about women in blue-collar building trades. Less than 3% of the construction workforce, a few pioneering women continue to pursue this daunting and non-traditional career path. Whether seeking economic and personal empowerment or simply drawn to the innate satisfaction of the work, all of them end up fighting to advance in a hyper-masculine arena where only the bold have entered and even fewer will succeed. Lingering myths and stereotypes about women's aptitudes and abilities prevent untold numbers of women from entering the trades, and cause many to leave.
But some women have defied these odds, and they are the reason for Hard Hatted Woman. It's hard to believe that while we celebrate female pioneers in so many
other fields--women who broke through glass ceilings and advanced into
business, politics, art, and science--we rarely acknowledge women breaking the mold in blue-collar trades. In the fight
for occupational freedom for women, tradeswomen are indeed the unsung heroes.
Theirs is a powerful story and courageous struggle that has remained mostly invisible for decades. Which is why we finally need to
bring their faces, voices, and stories to the screen.
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Hard Hatted Woman follows five tradeswomen through their daily experiences on the job, taking the viewer into the grit and intensity of construction sites and creating intimate portraits of women who do this work. It explores what it means to be a female in the field and to deal with its physical and emotional challenges. It reveals how each woman chooses to meet those challenges, how they shape her, and how she decides to shape them back. The women share their strategies for coping and resistance, survival and activism--in an industry where discrimination, sexism, racism, homophobia, and harassment are part of an everyday culture. Most important, they share why at the end of the day they still choose this work and love their trade.
The narrative connects their compelling personal stories to a broader movement of workers, organizers, educators, advocates and leaders uniting to keep "non-traditional" doors open for women. Federal attempts to integrate the industry have not achieved their goal, but tradeswomen and allies continue to search for strategies to finally break through "the last frontier" of construction. Looking back over the history of the movement, the film asks how far we've come, and where we go from here.
Empowering Work. Empowering Women.
But why construction? Why does construction even matter for women? Simple: a construction worker's average income exceeds 16 out of 20 of the most common occupations for women (see below). Secretaries, receptionists, healthcare aids, childcare workers--these jobs traditionally held by women pay far less on average than blue-collar jobs traditionally held by men. With so many hard-working single moms struggling at the poverty line, we can and must open these non-traditional doors for women. For many, it has meant the difference between poverty and property ownership. But even for those with master's degrees and myriad career options, the skilled trades are still the satisfying and rewarding career they choose. And yet far too few women are given the option to choose, because they don't even know the option exists. As a culture, we're still not doing enough to encourage girls and young women to explore technically skilled and non-traditional careers.
Believe it or not, the most common occupation for a woman today is the same as it was fifty years ago: secretary. Defying the odds of a desk job and preferring to pick up power tools and build bridges and skyscrapers instead, women in construction trades are daring the rest of us to confront gender stereotypes that are still holding women back—stereotypes entrenched not only in the world of carpenters and crane operators, but also in our culture at large.
How Far Along Is the Film?
It's amazing how far the film has come on limited financial resources. We've shot about 40% of the story and have invested $15,000 of our own money to bring the project this far, but now its survival depends on further funding. We need a fuel-injection of funds to keep production rolling to the finish line, and if this campaign is successful, we can complete shooting by May 2015.
How Does Kickstarter Work?
Kickstarter is a way for people like you to help produce the films you want to see in the world by donating to them. But Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal: if we don't meet our $25,000 goal by the time the campaign ends, we get nothing. Yup, nothing. That would be a devastating setback for the project. So it's super important that we meet our goal, and only you can help us get there. You choose whatever level you want to donate at and you get cool perks in return. Your donation is only a pledge until the campaign ends, and your payment will only be processed if we meet our goal.
Where Will the Money Go?
Your money will go directly into our budget. Here's how it all breaks down:
$8,000 Travel - While we could have made this film all about the tradeswomen of New York City, such a limited scope could never do justice to the diversity of tradeswomen's experiences in the U.S. and the key organizations and leaders all across the country who are making an impact in the movement. To do justice to this story, the project must travel. We will still be sleeping on couches, but need to cover airfare and transportation.
$8,000 Production Crew - So far we have devoted copious amounts of time and energy to the project for no payment whatsoever, but this has slowed our progress since we all have to juggle other jobs to earn a living. This stipend will allow us to put our focus on Hard Hatted Woman and fast-track production, as well as hire additional crew when needed.
$3,000 Fulfillment of Perks - What we will spend on producing, packaging and shipping your rewards.
$2,500 Equipment - While we already own most of our gear, we need to purchase two more lenses that will make the film cinematic and spectacular and two more hard drives to store the quickly accumulating footage.
$2,500 Kickstarter and Amazon Fees - Roughly 10% of money raised.
$1,000 Production Insurance - Always a good idea but absolutely required by contractors for shooting on construction sites!
Who's Behind the Project?
Lorien Barlow - Director, Producer, Cinematographer
Lorien Barlow began developing Hard Hatted Woman two years ago and has since then interviewed tradeswomen from all over the country and filmed them on construction sites from New York City to San Francisco. She has traveled to major conferences and met union leaders, women's committee organizers, advocates, authors, and the leaders of tradeswomen organizations. Hard Hatted Woman is her first feature documentary.
Jenny McCormack - Editing and Camera Assistant, Sound Mixing
Jenny is a freelance editor who has worked extensively on documentaries with Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, Kristi Zea, and ESPN Films for "You Don't Know Bo." She has more than ten years of experience as both lead and assistant editor, video effects artist, graphic designer, researcher and production coordinator. She has also worked for agencies such as Deluxe and Outpost Digital. Jenny specializes in documentaries with limited staffing where she performs a variety of roles.
Deborah Kampmeier - Producer
Deborah is an award-winning director, screenwriter, and producer whose first feature film, Virgin, was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards and won Best Feature Film at the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto. Her second feature, Hounddog, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. She is currently in post-production on her third film, Split. Deborah is also the founder of Full Moon Films, a company dedicated to the development and production of films by and about women.
Special Thanks/Trailer Credits
A very special thanks to Emily Wells for letting us use her song "Symphony 6: Fare Thee Well and the Requiem Mix."
Special thanks to Dawn Jones for additional footage.
Just to show you a few:
HARD HATTED WOMAN T-SHIRT: Screenprinted on a super soft women's fitted tee from American Apparel. Men's cut also available.
VENUS EYE-BOLT NECKLACE: wearable hardware with a feminist twist. Comes with ball chain ready to go and each one has been personally assembled by us with gratitude.
TRADESWOMAN HISTORY: Author- and director-signed copies of our favorite books that inspired the film. Special thanks to the authors Jane LaTour and Jean Reith Schroedel for collaborating with us to bring you this special perk.
STICKERS: Let your bumper do the talkin'. Bonus hard-hat stickers included.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge to the project right now is funding, and the biggest potential risk is losing this campaign. But aside from that, getting clearance to shoot on construction sites has been one wacky challenge. Red tape and bureaucratic shuffling have caused frustrating delays. But by now we've learned the ropes and know how to choose our sites and be persistent. In the end, it's worth the wait. There's nothing as exhilarating as stepping on to huge construction sites to watch our women at work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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