By Rich Henrich
What happens when Redford Scholars from around the globe gather to discuss the state of the industry? Their future? And the future of women in film? They decide to do something to change the status quo. I recently sat down with the young women behind “The Countdown,” a coming of age story about two eclectic best friends on the brink of graduation when they discover their bucket list from freshman year. “The story is really about the girls becoming adults, facing the future and realizing that things don’t always turn out as planned,” says Summer Matthews, one of the producers on the project. The theme is something the all female team believes will not only make their story standout but also connect to a broader audience. “So many of our friends are freaking out about the future. This anxiety is what our characters are going through. Their five year plans are not working out and they are learning that being an adult is about learning to adjust,” states Lia Gotz, the director and contributing writer on the film.
The concept for the film came about when Summer Matthews and Eli Schaefer (also a producer on the film) decided that something needed to be done about the lack of female filmmakers, even at the University. “Women are not being taken seriously, especially not for creative positions and certainly not in the realm of comedies. We’re funny so we wanted to create a coming of age comedy,” shares Schaefer, a film student from Kansas. An idea was born to tell the story of two quirky college girls going to a party. The writers, Kate Martin (also an actress in the project) and Jordyn Gregory (also serving as Assistant Director) started to write, the producers gave notes, the director made suggestions and nearly six months later, “The Countdown” was ready for it’s close up. But they need our help, changing the status quo and elevating women working in film from grips to writers, directors and producers. Their cause should be our cause as Summer Matthews states it” “Talented women are an after thought! We must change this!”
I wanted to get their perspective on what they see happening in the industry right now. So, I asked them to take a break from their Indiegogo campaign, studies and of course, their production planning to discuss some of the issues women face in the industry, especially, the next wave of professionals we are preparing for the future.
RH for OHI: What is the current state of young women in film?
SUMMER: When there aren’t positions, young women aren’t encouraged to create them. We work twice as hard to be half as respected. Our school is a reflection of the industry in a lot of ways. There is not a strong representation of women in power or leadership positions.
ELI: When we bring it up to our male friends and classmates, we are “whiny” or they dismiss it.
SUMMER: They say we don’t put ourselves out there. Well, we don’t have the same platform.
LIA: The ACLU is actually investigating how women are treated in the film industry. Bloomberg did a short doc asking successful women in the industry: Is Hollywood really as sexist and discriminatory against female directors as people say, or are we all just being a bunch of drama queens? There’s also this Tumblr “Shit People Say to Women Directors”
JORDYN: I follow that one! I get so mad. I feel like we are up against a higher standard than any other film. People are digging, asking questions and really looking for problems with our production.
LIA: We all feel the pressure. We’re making a statement and we need to deliver beyond that. We’re going to give them more than they expect.
SUMMER: Something I experience, is people are used to having their projects taken seriously and having access to the best (talent). And now, people are saying we’ve taken the best!
LIA: They say it as though we are more of an annoyance.
ELI: People have gone to our crew and tried to take them!
JORDYN: Most have turned them down even when offered a “higher” position. I took this on at the beginning of the school year knowing it would add more stress to my semester but not being a part of this wasn’t an option.
LIA: This is our project. It’s not for a class and faculty aren’t involved, it’s just us. We started off so small and looking where we are now, it’s pretty cool!
ELI: Just like in the industry, you have to make a name for yourself. We’ve all worked hard but we work hard without the recognition.
LIA: You have to learn how to balance your feminine and your masculine aspects. A lot of people think that women are more delicate- maybe it’s subconscious.
Stay tuned for part two of this story tomorrow!!! For more information on how you can help these young ladies accomplish their goals or to learn more about their film, visit their Facebook page, here.
As of this writing, they have about $400 dollars more to raise to reach their goal. To help them by donating a dollar or two or maybe even $100 if you feel moved to do so, go to their Indiegogo page, indiegogo.com/the-countdown. This is a talented group that no doubt will make an impact for years to come. They also need a goat and a goat wrangler, they promise the goat will not be harmed and the goat wrangler will be glad to have their goat be a star in the film.