Miranda Sajdak is a writer/producer/director currently living in Los Angeles. As a script reader, she has done coverage for producers of films ranging from indie hits like Drive to studio features including Final Destination, American Pie, and television shows Huge, Man in the High Castle, and My So-Called Life. She co-founded Script Chix in 2012 to provide coverage services to screenwriters. She was a winner of Go Into the Story‘s Quest Initiative in 2013 and was also a winner of The Next MacGyver competition in 2015, paired with mentor Clayton Krueger at Scott Free to develop original pilot Riveting. Her last project as a director premiered in L.A. at Outfest, and as a producer at Screamfest. She enjoys hard-hitting dramas, films with female leads, and '90s legal thrillers. She takes film snarking suggestions over on Twitter @MirandaSajdak and further potentially dangerous lifestyle choices can be supported at https://www.gofundme.com/MirandaDirects.
So, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had some time to sit down and really snark, but here at Snark a Film, we want to bring you only the best in snarking. As you all are likely aware, the movie business is just that – a business, which requires some element of forethought in casting and marketing, with the intent that a film will make some real money out of its release. Studio films, in particular, pay attention to the bottom-line, and are always taking that into account during the development and casting process.
In recent weeks, there was a bit of upheaval on the Twitters surrounding a few movie releases, but we want to focus particularly on a movie we didn’t actually see, Now You See Me 2, and its marketing campaign.
As noted by Lane Moore…
Now, apparently there are more women in that film than actually appear on the poster. However, marketing matters, and it tells you a lot when you go to a theater and don’t see anyone of your gender, race, class, or other marginalized group on a poster. To that end, we had a little sit-down with the top 100 films from 2015, and looked over ensemble posters.
Now, this one is fun, because Straight Outta Compton is based on a real story, and whenever you make something that’s based on real life, people will defend it to the death. Like how women are marginalized in early seasons of Game of Thrones because it’s medieval times, discounting the whole “firebreathing dragons and magic and zombies” element. This film fits squarely under the “could’ve used some women for the poster; chose not to” category.
Moving right along, we hit – Furious 7. Now, this one’s gotta be good, right? Lots of diversity, huge franchise, even the title 7 should give you plenty of room for at least 50% women in the poster.
Now, let’s check out another one. Oh, hey, Johnny Depp. What’s up, man? We like you! Well, we liked you in Edward Scissorhands. Been a while, though. And now you’re doing these weird crime films and getting progressively creepier, but that’s okay, cause you’re sure to have lots of women in your movies, right? Oh, wait, this is another “based on a true story” film.
Kinda makes you wonder why they don’t tell true stories about groups of women with one token dude friend along for the ride.
Here’s one, finally, that should have women. My personal favorite, Spotlight. That’s gotta have more than one girl! Boston is full of women!
And another favorite… (I actually did like this one)
That would be all, but we know some folks’ll get upset that so many of these are “based on true stories.” So, here’s one that’s not based on a true story.
None of these films are inherently bad, based on their posters. But what are we doing when we’re saying that this kind of marketing or filmmaking – either absent women entirely, or with no analogous projects that are ensembles for women (two Pitch Perfects don’t make up for 7 Furious Sevens)? We know women are only around 30% of speaking characters, but when we look at the box office data and discover that female-fronted movies make serious money, we need to start considering what we’re doing with our advertising, and why we’re not making more films with more women.
While there’s no reason to not see any of the films listed above (except Spotlight, I still hate Spotlight), there’s plenty of argument to be made for more films with women in similar roles, as none of these films’ characters must inherently be male. And, you again with the “real life” story: if you’re not showing me every time someone went to the bathroom, you’ve changed something “based on real life.” Artistic license extends in all directions, and while there may be reason not to adjust certain things in certain films, the overwhelming data shows us that we just aren’t casting enough women in lead roles. And that’s a problem. Snark out below.
Learn tips from Miranda on making your script standout in her webinar
Grab the Reader with Your First 10 Pages
Thursday, August 18th at 1:00 PM PT (4:00 PM ET)
As long as you sign up in advance, you don't have to be
present at the event. You'll receive a recording!
At a Glance:
- During this live webinar, writers will learn some basic techniques to grab reader interest early in your script.
- Learn what pitfalls to avoid when writing your first 10 pages.
- Explore why the first 10 matter so much to crafting your story.