Why We Loved Our Collaborator Filming Days

By Marése O’Sullivan

Wow! It’s been an incredible week. Two filming days over and done with – and the What I See team is feeling more inspired than ever before.

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We really enjoyed getting to meet so many of you at our collaborator filming event. It was fun to chat in person and talk about what really matters to you.

We had the perfect location: the Art First Gallery, Eastcastle Street, London. Thanks again to the Art First team who were very kind and generous in allowing us to film there.

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The footage is looking great – we’re so looking forward to sharing the final films with you next month. We’re delighted you came along!

Check out our photo blog from both days on our website:

http://whatiseeproject.com/news/a-selection-of-behind-the-scenes-photos-collaborator-filming-day-2

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Jane Austen: The Face of the New £10 Note

She’s now “in possession of a good fortune”.

The Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, has announced that Jane Austen will be the new face for the £10 note.

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The Jane Austen banknote. Image courtesy of The Bank of England.

As a result of a 35,000-signature petition on Change.org for women to appear on British banknotes, the famous author will take her place alongside a quote from her novel Pride and Prejudice: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

It is believed she will feature from 2017, the bicentenary of her death.

“Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature,” said Mr. Carney. “We believe that our notes should celebrate the full diversity of great British historical figures and their contributions in a wide range of fields. The Bank is committed to that objective, and we want people to have confidence in our commitment to diversity.”

What I See Meets…Irish author Vanessa O’Loughlin

We love inspiring women at The What I See Project. So we chatted to multitalented Irish author, mum and publishing consultant, Vanessa O’Loughlin. The Vice-Chair of Irish PEN, she’s also the founder of The Inkwell Group AND the leading writing advice website … Continue reading

Girls fight back against the stereotypical ‘pink toy aisle’

By Harlen Leonard

A new video has caused storm in cyberspace. Whatever could it be? Could it be women doing sport in heels? Dustin Hoffman crying over his once shallow views on women? Lil Bub‘s Birthday?

Actually, all of these videos have been causing a bit of a fuss, but The What I See Project team has fallen in love with this campaign.

The video below shows a group of young girls rebelling against stereotypical ‘girly toys’ (we even see a pair of ballet pumps get nailed to a skateboard to improve balance) and storm the ‘pink aisle’ of a local toy shop. I’m particularly impressed by their ‘Not Just a Princess’ T-shirts covered in dirt and grease.

The advert comes from GoldieBlox, a toy designed to get girls interested in engineering, and clearly shows that gender stereotypes need to be a thing of the past. This video is hilarious, full of emotion, and reminds me of being a young pink-hating girl!

The GoldieBlox YouTube description reads: “The odds are against us. We’ve been told that GoldieBlox can’t survive in mass stores next to Barbie. Convention says that engineering toys for girls are a ‘niche’ for the affluent and for the Internet. Together, we must prove convention wrong.”

I, for one, think that this advert and toy could not have come sooner.

BlondieBox gives young girls a chance to explore engineering at an early age. At last! A toy and advert for all the girls that hate the ‘pink toy aisle’ and prefer protective goggles over Barbie-branded sunglasses. Hurrah!

Women and Hollywood: A Review of the WFTV Discussion

By Marése O’Sullivan

The perception of women in Hollywood is fraught with judgement and jealousy.

Even now, women in the film and television industry are being sized up not on their talent, but on their appearance.

Why are studios determining the right person for the job based on their sex? Since when are women not trusted to lead a big-budget movie? And why are the top ten grossing movies of all time all directed by men?

Last week, the Women in Film and Television UK (WFTV) organisation led a discussion on the current status of women in Hollywood. From actors, to writers, to producers, to editors, we heard the hard-hitting facts: women still do not exert the kind of power in the industry that men do. Right now, under 30% of behind-the-scenes and front-of-camera roles are filled by women.

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Most of the women in the film and television industry are known for their acting success, but not behind the scenes.

Melissa Silverstein, Women and Hollywood blogger and author of In Her Voice, took to the stage to debate these figures. She is about to celebrate the sixth anniversary of her blog and is a co-director of the Athena Film Festival. She questioned the lack of female CEOs for the six major film studios in the U.S. – Disney, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros Pictures – with only one, Warner Bros, boasting a woman as a co-executive.

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Melissa Silverstein, author of In Her Voice, and guest speaker at the WFTV event.

Melissa explained how Hollywood works, indicating its focus on the opening weekend and on earning the highest gross possible, and revealed: “It’s all about the money, not all about the movie.”

Women are not seen as a market by Hollywood, she said, nor apparently does Hollywood believe that women go to see films. This illusion directly contrasts with data published by the Motion Picture Association of America, which revealed that, in 2012, women actually attended more films than men.

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She remarked that a woman’s story is just as important to be told as a man’s story, but that doesn’t seem to have clicked with the film industry yet, because female success is generally believed to be a fluke.

Producing is a far more popular career for women in the industry – but if only 19% of screenwriters of British films and 15% of UK directors are women, it’s clearly time for a change.

“In 2006, less than a dozen of the 307 films eligible for Oscars were women-driven,” Melissa told us. “Only three women have directed a film with a budget of over $100 million. Those films were animated.”

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Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of Kung Fu Panda 2. Image from Hollywood Reporter.

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Brenda Chapman, co-director and screenwriter of Brave. Image from MailOnline.

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Brave. Image from Disney.

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Vicky Jenson, center, co-director of Shark Tale, along with Bibo Bergeron and Rob Letterman. Image from movpins.

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Shark Tale. Image from unionfilms.org.

Incredibly, only four women have been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards in nearly ninety years (Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties, Jane Campion for The Piano, Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation, and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker) – with just one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, winning the title. Ever.

Although Melissa is hopeful for the future of women in the industry, she believes that we need to continue to support each other to make a real difference. She encouraged us to believe in our female vision.

“Trust in your stories – they matter just as much,” she smiled.

How do you think women can have their voice heard more clearly in the film and television industry? Comment below with your thoughts!

What do you see?

What I See Meets…Wimbledon

By Harlen Leonard & Marése O’Sullivan Today the What I See Project team braved the hussle and bussle of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. We walked the length of the queue and received contributions from women who were eager to become involved … Continue reading

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Join the community of women taking part in The What I See Project.

We’re asking: What do you see when you look in the mirror?

If you’re interested in sharing your view, upload your story to The What I See Project website.