Message board no longer active
This forum is no longer active. Please visit for her new forum.
All Forums / Poetry / Politics / Music / Film-making / Religion / Other topics / Write a Review /
Forums  >  Film-making  >  Advice for a female film-maker
Author Post

at 15:26, 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 0
Advice for a female film-maker
Never has a film captured how i felt about gender. It was beautiful, funny, and intriguing (don't meann to kiss **** but it's true)I was waddling around like a lost duck but ORLANDO opended my eyes.

So much so that i decided to become a film-maker. This has opened up a new can of worms. Most people i work with want to be the next speilberg. They have no passion for the power of film, only the fame and money it can bring them.

I have found having opinions, especially political ones to be very discriminating. I can understand why, but i feel a loss of hope for meeting people that i would like to work with. will this ever change? I hate to play the female card and say it is because i'm a woman. But i strongly feel it is. Maybe i am taking a very naive view of the industry as i have only just begun to learn about it (2 years)?

I guess there is a point to me writting.

I am inspired by your influence, especially in recieving possitve critical acclaim as a female film-maker. Basically this is a cry for wise words. Can you give me any advice. Will i ever meet people who feel the same way. Where is the best way to go to meet these people?

I am currently wrriting and feel exactly how your intro to the website describes. i have lots of little ideas,paragraphs, speeches, silly images/scenes that i can picture in my head, but i feel like i'm trying to force the wrong pieces together in a jigsaw. Can u give me any advice into how to go about making it work?

Sorry for the whining, self-ish e-mail, I'm a film student... i can only ask. Any "wise" words (even if it's to tell me to stop waffling in stupid e-mails) you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Any way, hope things are going well and i look forward to seeing some more great stuff in the future,

sally potter
at 15:22, 7 Mar 2006
Posts: 193
late reply
hello emma
first, i am sorry for this late reply to your message. i am gradually making my way through a backlog.
you speak of the jigsaw you are trying to put together. how to make it work? by continuing! i dont think it is because you are starting out that you feel confused, i think the process of making films itself can be is a jigsaw, often a mysterious one. we act blindly, groping our way towards solutions, asking questions. the only difference is after a few more years the process, with all its difficulties, is simply more familiar.
the most imprtant thing , i think, is not to give up. that sounds simple, but is not. there seem to be many reasons to despair at every turn. I think men as well as women suffer from doubt, insecurity and obstacles along the way. the difference is that men have more examples to look at and identify with of men achieving excellence (in film and every other art form). women have to live with the fear that women's historical 'silence' is justified.

as to meeting people who share your vision: in my experience real soul-mates are rare and to be cherished when you find them. in the meantime learn to love who you are with, share what you can. collaboration is a beautiful art form in its own right. a skill. everyone has more to give than they ever dreamed of, and at least part of a directors job is to recognise the latent genius in those you work with. once you start looking you will find.
i would say 'good luck' but i think we earn our luck, too, with perseverance, so i think i will say again ; keep going. you will get there.

at 10:00, 16 Mar 2006
Posts: 0
With love and respect
Dear Sally

I recently watched 'The Tango Lesson' and 'Yes' and was deeply moved and inspired by both. Not only because I'm a tango-dancing scriptwriter from Belfast - and felt a connection with the female protagonists of both. But also because they show how great cinema can be. Challenging, intelligent, moving, engaging and underneath it all having something significant to say.

I used to think that British cinema was failing, because there wasn't enough time invested in script development. Maybe that's partly be true. However, I now believe its biggest failing, is that it too often invests in the wrong scripts. Trying to ape the Hollywood mainstream. Afraid to sing in its own accent and producing little more than mid-Atlantic mediocrity. Trying to please everybody and ending up pleasing nobody.

I know you are right when you say the way to make headway in this business is to just keep going. Sometimes it feels like a thrilling ride. Sometimes it feels like self-harming. Either way, I have no choice. I'm on the path I know I'm meant to be on. Just got to keep walking, crawling, tangoing along it.

Thank you for your beautiful, illuminating work. I look forward with great excitement to viewing your entire catalogue and watching out for what you do next.

Love, peace and respect - Thought Fox
sally potter
at 14:47, 27 Mar 2006
Posts: 193
the FOX
dear foxy tango dancing scriptwriter from belfast...
you are so right about the dangers of trying to please. seems to me like a life lesson , to be learned the hard way, as much as a lesson about making work (films/paintings/songs/dances).
and it relates strongly to this thread about 'advice for a female film director'. for women i think the habit of trying to please is deep and centuries old. it is part of our training. as film makers we are dealing with the complexities of entertainment. 'pleasing' is part of that, and generating pleasures of all kinds, pleasures for the eyes, the ears, pleasures in watching something well done, or with timing that packs a punch, or images that stir feelings of yearning, or the pleasure of intellectual stimulation or of belly-laughing
....these ways of pleasing are hard earned with hard work.
the kind of 'pleasing' that is dangerous is the kind that is a disguised form of compromise or timidity....where we dont dare say what we really think, or dont make the work with courage, or dont go far enough or aim high enough. sometimes it is important to accept not being liked, not pleasing with niceness, with conformity or even with modesty.
sometimes you have to be ugly, or ruthless in order to do the right thing rather than the pleasing thing.
thank you thoughtfox.
by the way, my beloved grandmother's maiden name was Fox, and a nickname for me has been 'fox with wings'...
at 14:09, 16 Apr 2006
Posts: 2
Breaking the history silence for women filmmakers
Dear Sally,

I've known about your blog for a while but this is the first time I've actually sat down and read it. I love the way you write, and think this blog offers great inspiration to lots of creatives. It's excellent.

You know about Birds Eye View (a platform for women filmmakers, hosting the first major UK women's film festival among other programmes) and so won't be surprised that I've focussed on this strand about female filmmakers!

You wrote: "the difference is that men have more examples to look at and identify with of men achieving excellence (in film and every other art form). women have to live with the fear that women's historical 'silence' is justified."

And that's precisely what Birds Eye View is here for - to give confidence, inspiration, encouragement to emerging women filmmakers, and to promote excellent work by women to the general public (and the industry) - so that, for a change, women can be in the spotlight and their achievements truly celebrated.

Excellent women filmmakers never "use" their gender as either an excuse or a card to play in making their art. They simply focus on making excellent films. But I do think it's valuable to put the spotlight on the imbalance, and bring positive change by example.

I love your work - rich and fascinating - and look forward to reading more of this blog!

Best wishes, and Happy Easter!

Rachel Millward (Birds Eye View)
at 14:20, 16 Apr 2006
Posts: 2
... have to confess I still haven't seen YES (despite having promoted it with BEV) as I was recovering post major knee op when it screened in London, and couldn't get in at the LFF... reading the extraordinary response on this site (and from what I've others have told me) I can't wait to get my eyes on it!

Orlando is one of my favourite films - I was stunned by its beauty, it has stayed with me like few films do.

at 14:43, 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 3
Female role-models
As a female film enthusiast, I identify with "the fear that women's historical 'silence' is justified." For a long time, I had to fight this nagging fear when I realized that all my favorite filmmakers were men. However, when I started looking harder, I foundnd that women have long been important to film, even when they were less visible. Look at the credits of many films and you will see that women have edited them--Thelma Schoonmaker of "Goodfellas," for example.

As for the more glamorous role of director: it took me awhile, but I found a few who are every bit as bold and original as their male counterparts. I recommend the short films of Maya Deren, regarded by some as the founder of American experimental film, and the work of Ildiko Enyedi, a Hungarian surrealist. And "Yes" is not only a great film: it gave me renewed hope for future women filmmakers. Sally has shown that you needn't play it safe, even if you're working in a historically male-dominated industry.
at 05:16, 28 Jul 2006
Posts: 2
Inspired by a fox
Hello again, Fox with Wings

I am very excited to hear that you will be holding a masterclass in the Autumn. I think it's important for female film-makers that our role models are visible and step up to the podium.

I agree with what Rachel from Birds Eye View recently said. I also think it's important to highlight the imbalance, but more important to show the way by positive example.
Page: 1