WRITER, WRITER, PANTS ON FIRE!
As I was updating my webpage today, I suddenly added the words, “Writer, Writer Pants On Fire” as my own personal logline! The words resonated for me, bearing in mind the fire I feel inside in regard to ‘Mudlarks’, my most recently completed screenplay. Fiction pieces being essentially “untruths”, it also felt like a good play on words and a testament to my love of writing fiction. I reflected, however, that perhaps I was, as usual, writing in a subconscious or archetypal language. Pushing myself into deeper internal dialogue, I wondered, “Am I lying to myself about my screenwriting journey? Can women ever really penetrate the film and TV screenplay world after the age of 40 or 50?” But why does physical appearance matter at all in this conversation? How we look should not make a difference as writers and it should be about the quality of ones writing-which usually gets better with age and experience. We need not give that self-depreciating part of ourselves as women any more power. My human organism is fine and so is yours. But how can we stop others from judging us by gender, age, race or looks and make headway in our writing careers?
They say you do have to receive a lot of rejection before you find success in the film industry, but I have come to the point of realization that few women make it through to higher realms as easily as the men do, and this makes me angry and determined to try and try to push past these limitations and to find business partners who are like minded. In light of the recent Weinstein revelations, I, like many other women, am reflecting on my own life and the numerous times I was inappropriately kissed, squeezed, fondled and just plain harassed in power plays at work by my male employers or fellow employees. Most of the inappropriate squeezing and kissing took place before I was 30 and could not have even imagined how to handle it. Is it any wonder that all three of my screenplays, ‘Mudlarks’, ‘Hula’ and “Love in An Age of War” (aka ‘Mail Order Bride’) all have women characters responding to life in a world where there is abuse of power by men towards women? I have plenty of fodder from my experiences, for which I am grateful, but frankly, wouldn’t it be more fulfilling to write about the male heroes who really stand up for the women in their lives and women who have great internal and external power, like Jamie and Claire in the wonderful ‘Outlander’ TV series? Still, the flawed but gifted women in my screenplays go after what they want and they do slay the dragon, so to speak, and this is all empowering and good.
It took a lot of courage for women to come out with their humiliating stories of how they were duped, molested and betrayed by a person in great power in Hollywood. But I know it’s hard to confront every injustice, and sometimes we just want to work and live without aggravation. We know that men can also experience injustice in the workplace and so, sometimes, women are quickly forgiving, not wanting to create further conflict or hardship for another human being who is obviously broken and hurting. We weigh things up. Will this person do the same to others? Is this incident really worth exposing? Maybe not, we surmise and hope. Sometimes we are just not strong enough to cope with yet another fight. Maybe the fight will be too costly, we think. No judgment towards those who move on, without telling others that injustices have occurred in their lives, for fear of a further ordeal or for fear of losing work because you need to pay the bills. But don’t suppress it. Write about it, my friends. Write about all your experiences in life. Don’t be afraid of expressing your own story’s rawness. Expose the truth! Writer, writer, pants on fire!! Write it! And know that I believe in you!
Cheri Newton has a Masters Degree in American Film and Popular Culture, has written and is marketing three feature screenplays, is a blogger and has taught multimedia and film editing. She also helps people with their screenplay rewrites and offers screenwriting consultations. Contact her at: email@example.com Follow her on Twitter @CheriNewtonFilm
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