Wired Women on Saturday 14th November was a new kind of industry day. We focused on the crafts that are more rarely discussed, and invited all female panels to talk about their work. Beginning with The Bechdel Test Fest’s panel on Editorial Power, film journalists working across print, radio and online demonstrated how they and their colleagues are able to influence and shape the film industry through their coverage. Apart from providing filmmakers in the room with the reassurance that there are critics who will champion women getting a fairer deal in the film industry, there were a number of “Hell yeah” moments as the call for more and varied depictions of women and their stories was indisputably shared by the full room! As The Bechdel Test Fest approaches the end of its first phenomenal year challenging onscreen female stereotypes, Corrina Antrobus’s defiant assertion that “What you put out in the world has the power to affect change” set the tone for what proved to be an inspirational day.

“One of the most inspiring collection of talks I’ve ever attended. Incredible atmosphere.”

Award Partners Musicians’ Union and Sound Disposition joined forces for a panel on the importance of sound in film with demonstrations and insight from the extraordinary composer Nainita Desai and expert Re-Recording Mixer Kath Pollard.  Often overlooked, to the point where both women frequently work to unrealistic and extremely highly pressurised deadlines, the qualities that well designed music and sound bring to a film can make the crucial difference between a film’s success or failure. Perhaps because it is rarely noticed unless it isn’t working, these crafts seamlessly enliven and enrich film, which both women undertake with an evident thrill and deep sense of satisfaction, admitting that were it not for the deadlines, they could work indefinitely on achieving innumerable versions of perfection!

“I LOVED TODAY. Absolutely buzzing – what a fantastic group of people”

The sense of joy and excitement escalated with the cinematography panel assembled by Award Partner Greenkit. Susanne Salavati, Gabi Norland, Nicola Daley and Kate Reid’s reels demonstrated immense skill and variety, and to hear these women discuss the work they each are clearly enamoured of was an incredible opportunity. The insight from those working across crafts are so rarely heard, and assumptions about how to “make it in the film industry” often creates mythologies about the essentials of attending film schools, the need to train in your chosen field from an early age (even before we get to the sexist presumptions women also contend with). Each woman described a different route into the industry, reminding us that there is little that is straightforward in the film industry. Passion, hard work, determination and simply loving what you do are the things that really count. Defying the odds, whether that’s filming the apparently unfilmable, or becoming the 8th woman in history to receive the ACS accreditation (in the case of Nicola Daley) is clearly second nature to a cinematographer!

“So positive and informative. Makes me excited for the present and future.”

The final session of the day was an in-depth, candid, jaw-dropping and energetic account of an inconceivably brave feature film project. Director Johanna Schwartz, her co-Producer Sarah Mosses, and Cinematographer Karelle Walker talked through the making of They Will Have to Kill Us First. As provocative and militant as the film’s title, Johanna’s determination to relate the story of Malian musicians fleeing their homes after a ban on music across the country by Islamic extremists, is astonishing. Informed by Sarah and Karelle’s input, the session illuminated the chaotic, unpredictable and ultimately serendipitous experience of filmmaking.

“Thoroughly enjoyed the day, so important for women filmmakers to have this support.”

The achievements of all those who contributed to Wired Women provided incredible inspiration. Combining realistic and practical advice with the strongest of resolves, each of us felt a little more able to follow Johanna Schwartz’s closing words of advice on how to make a film: “You have to bend the Universe to your will.”

 

Audio recordings of each session

Voice It Out – Find Your Editorial Power

Hosted by Corrina Antrobus of The Bechdel Test Fest. Speakers include: Simran Hans (freelance journalist), Ione Gamble (Editor in Chief, Polyester Zine), Niki Alexandrou (radio host, Hoxton Radio) and MaryAnn Johanson, (freelance journalist & founder of FlickFilosopher.com).

Sculpting Sound – Not Just a Visual Medium

Speakers: Composer Nainita Desai and Re-Recording Mixer Kath Pollard, with Chair Madeline Hennessy from Musicians’ Union.

Focus on Cinematographers

Speakers: Cinematographers Nicola Daley, Gabi Norland, Kate Reid and Susanne Salavati, with Chair Pat McEnallay from Greenkit.

From Idea to Premiere – They Will Have to Kill Us First

Speakers: Director Johanna Schwartz, Producer Sarah Mosses and Director of Photography Karelle Walker.

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