I thought I’d start screenwriting mid-life. Humble pie, that experience. And one BIG mistake I made was to try out a storyline too close to my heart and be told, in a workshop, that nobody wanted to hear one more story about… fill in the blanks with your own deepest life experience and you’re there with me… slinking away from the workshop, giving up, watching movies, not daring to write ANYTHING, ever again.
I let the comment make me feel invisible. I let myself hear that I had nothing to say. I considered, then, my story as saying nothing. Told it it said nothing, almost burned it. But it stared back at me and asked for reconsideration, as a personal tale, as a woman’s tale. I had to admit I’d heard it. I’d lived it. It can’t be saying nothing, right? I gave it a stay of execution.
And myself a deep, hard look.
What is it about my middle life self that ISN’T invisible? What have I got, right here, inside, that’s actually of value? Well, one thing I do have, one indisputable skill I’ve honed through fifty very full years that’s clearly visible and loud when I want it to be, is that of being a woman. In reading screenplays while I was still plugging away thinking the craft was going to be a breeze, and watching films voraciously now, I don’t find woman portrayed very well. The general woman. The everywoman.
The woman in the audience down the street, not at Cannes. The woman eating overpriced popcorn in nappy cinema seats and trusting that life will shine a little brighter for her when she leaves the theatre than it did when she entered. Or how about just the middle aged woman at home with her dollar rental, aware that women and men the world over have watched the same movie she’s watching and been fed portrayals of women she simply wants to scream “NO” to; “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” to; “REALLY?”
It’s not that the portrayals out there are awful. It’s just, maybe, that there aren’t enough legit ones to counter.
I’m in search of real women in films, suspecting that real women need to write, produce and direct more. Get their subtle stories and their complex visions out there. Mix it up a bit. I don’t know. Maybe the lives and thoughts of real women are too subtle for the camera, too complex for film. Not interesting enough?
We’ll see. Here goes.
Lights, camera, cue the chick- OOPS- women.