by Rosalie Kicks!
Old Sport at Moviejawn
A small, yet mighty nonprofit organization, PWIFT strives to create growth and creativity for Philadelphia media makers. PWIFT President, Suzanne Landau, believes the only way females can excel in the filmmaking world is by supporting and helping one another. While living in New York, Suzanne was part of a similar organization - New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) and found firsthand how a group such as this can help women in film connect and build relationships.
PWIFT offers various events and networking opportunities for ladies to meet fellow Philly media makers and to learn new skills. The events strive to appeal to a diverse group: directors, screenwriters, producers (fiction, documentary, commercial) and production roles. Some of the topics have included: crowdfunding, a Q&A session with an entertainment lawyer, panel discussions, and "how to's." A future event they are looking to host is a "how to" session with Lavelle Productions focusing on Steadicam operation. Not a lot of women are involved with this type of work...why not? Often times, because of the lack of female presence in filmmaking, ladies will find that their career path is forced in another direction. "When I came out of school, I thought I wanted to be a gaffer or maybe a camera operator but was told "you are too small." Take a look out on set, and see how many DPs (Director of Photography) are women," says Landau.
This really struck a chord with me. As a young child I never had aspirations to make films nor did my parents give me a video camera on my fifth birthday. I discovered filmmaking similar to Alice falling down the rabbit hole and landing in Wonderland. After being unhappy with my choice to tell the "truth" (aka a career in journalism) I snagged a course catalog upon entering my junior year. I scanned the pages for my future and there it was: Intro to Screenwriting. Hell yes! Let's fabricate. By the time I got to my senior thesis class, to my surprise the number of ladies in the room was sparse. Out of 40 wannabe directors there were maybe three ladies? Where were all the ladies at? When/why did they get discouraged and fall off?
Truth is: Ladies do not get the same opportunities as dudes and as Landau puts it, "It can damage your career." While the boys are out there getting the jobs, they are also gaining the experiences which means that in the end - the bigger budget films and meaningful connections. Women are out there. Imagine if they were visible? Suzanne often wonders: What if media was influenced 50% by women? During our lifetime, most films have been made by men. Studios are operated by men. What types of films would we see if women were responsible for half the movies ever made? How would this change the characters and stories that have been presented? There is change happening but Landau believes women need to keep themselves visible, stay active in your community and support fellow female media makers not only in Philadelphia but in near by cities as well. "Get out there and go to the movies. The box office really does speak and it is important for us to get out out there and show support," says Landau in regards to projects made by women.
PWIFT is truly a family and many of their connections have helped ladies within their network find jobs. They have also assisted with promoting screenings at film festivals. While speaking with Suzanne the message was clear: more troops need to be on the ground. Landau believes there are a lot of great filmmakers in Philadelphia, many of which people don't even know about. Such as Allison Bagnall. Alison wrote Buffalo '66 (whoa! how rad is that?!) and recently made a film, Funny Bunny which I plan to check out soon and would never have known about without talking to Suzanne. The power of networking! As the organization grows they hope to promote some more of the awesomeness these Philly-based ladies are creating. Later this year the group plans to launch a membership drive and are gearing up for that now. "By creating a sense of community and being able to connect with like-minded people the stronger the web is, the stronger we will be," says Landau.