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To All Fellow Women Filmmakers

Let me start by saying that I admire all the women filmmakers immensely. It takes lots of guts and determination to stay in this business after years of neglect, sometimes abuse and mostly just being ignored because you are a woman and, according to some, a woman cannot tell a visual story that is successful and entertaining.

I’ve been in this business since 2004. When I started out, right after film school, the Internet was around but wasn’t anything we knew much about. Access to equipment and opportunities was very limited. In fact, one of my tutors kept repeating to us from the very start:” You are never going to get a job in media. If you want a job, you should become a lawyer.” Well, I never wanted to become a lawyer and wanted to have a job that would fulfil my creative calling, but according to him, it was impossible to have.

Over the years a lot has changed, and now the problem is not the accessibility of the equipment or access to jobs but visibility. By visibility I don’t only mean having shit lots of likes on your FB post; I mean visibility for your work that is often lost amongst the vast landscape of content, right after it ends festival screenings or after the first weekend of the theatrical or digital release. Unfortunately, many of those fantastic films lost to humanity are made by female filmmakers.

In general, I think, women suffer from lower self-esteem and often find maintaining their confidence challenging (centuries of oppression).  And we all know that to succeed in anything in life one needs to be confident beyond the standard frames of confidence ((look at the real estate agents). However, for women often it’s a full-time job to emanate confidence, especially in the industry that uses strong prejudice based on gender stereotype to determine whether someone should get a job or not, whether someone is allowed to make a film or not. That automatically puts us in a very disadvantaged position, knocking down our confidence and there are only so many knocks a person can take before giving up.

Lack of confidence influences our creative voices and choices, which over the years can become muffled and very indecisive. To be decisive, confident and comfortable in your skin and within the frames of your work you need to make progress in your work; you need to be rewarded for years of hard work, commitment and constant learning, which often is not the case for many talented women filmmakers.

It took me a long time to find my voice; to gain confidence and to be comfortable with who I am and the work I do. It took me a long time to take pride in what I do; to appreciate my talent and my skills, my determination and also my stubbornness. However, the shift in perception doesn’t happen overnight. To make yourself heard and visible requires hard work, support from your tribe, often tears and doubts along the way, and inner growth.

The times are changing, and we have this fantastic opportunity to be heard now more than ever. I also strongly believe that we have a duty to the future generation of women; to show them the way as we were showed the way by all the beautiful women that came before us.

So let’s make this time count; let’s allow the young girls and women to have easier entry to this wonderful, magical land of visual storytelling than we did and let’s make our voices heard. The time is now and let’s not forget to support one another in our efforts to tell stories we care for, the stories we believe matter.

While you are here, you might also be interested in Creative Distribution.

Filed under: women make films

About the Author

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Magda Olchawska is an award-winning independent filmmaker, writer and screenwriter. She writes not only about making films and writing but also about financially independent and sustainable lifestyle. Her current projects include Ecotopia Universe and School Runs.

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