Can you name any movies directed by females? That’s what Serena Gauthier and Anna Cuevas ask in the opening of their film, Don’t Touch the Camera. And they have a point. I can’t think of any, except maybe, The Hurt Locker? That was a girl, right?
While not many people stop to look at the numbers, the dominance of male directors in the film industry is pretty astounding. Women made up only 9% of the directors in the highest grossing films of 2015. The films directed by women have a lower budget and are lower grossing productions. It’s a domino effect. Lack of women leads to a less diverse workforce, less conversation about the topic, and in turn, less of a chance for change.
With their film Don’t Touch the Camera, Champlain College film students Serena Gauthier and Anna Cuevas gave a voice to some of the things they have been feeling about the industry and the problems that they’ve faced. They started a conversation.
“Before we thought of making a documentary, it had been discussed among our friends in our major how we were experiencing gender inequality,” explained Gauthier. “So when we began our documentary class we thought it would be a good way of discussing what we had been going through on a larger scale.”
The film is a twenty-minute documentary about the seven women in Champlain College’s Class of 2018 film major. Through a series of questions, the students featured in the film describe their experience in a male-dominated field and give advice on how the climate can be changed within the industry. They mentioned many specific issues that they faced within the classroom, getting as detailed as they felt was necessary.
“We didn’t mention names [of male professors] because the point of the film was not to call them out but to give a voice to us and our peers,” said Gauthier. “It didn’t really matter who they were but rather that what they were saying/doing…[It] was and is an issue for us and many other women in the film industry that needs to be talked about.”
Their film was talked about on the local Fox affiliate and premiered at the Vermont International Film Festival in October. After spending a year making the film, it is finally seeing the light and starting to spark conversation. The film offers a simple and compelling argument: the need to start lifting up and supporting female directors, cinematographers, producers, and others in the field to increase diversity in the industry our lifetime. This could result in hard working women getting the recognition they deserve.
“Like Mario Kart, they don’t give the blue shell to the person that’s in first place, okay?” explains Erin Bailey in the film when she is asked why we need to start giving women more of a boost, “if you already have first place, you don’t need the blue shell.”