I recently passed by a professional actress on my way to a meeting. She positively beamed with radiant energy and light, knocking out everyone around her. Her perfume was fresh and floral, her clothing stylish and feminine. In a town where people err towards casual, I had the immediate thought: “that’s what I want to be.” Having chosen to put on my “filmmaker garb” for the day, I was left to wonder about the state of women in film vs. the all-seeing eye of fashion, and the practicality vs. expectation of our wardrobe.
Being an actor (and musician) my entire life- I listen, I watch, I learn. I take on particular habits, hairdos, styles. I emulated the artists I admired until I formulated my own style. When I became a New York actor, that particular style changed over time to a more sleek, stylish professional look with gothic undertones. I feel the most comfortable in this respect. As time went on and I started writing and directing my own work (sometimes acting in them), I started to learn about branding – as we have all done- with the boom of social media.
This always agitated me as an actor because I hated the idea of forcing things to be simple so people could understand (there is very little people understand about my first impression, unless they are familiar with the history of Nova Scotia, Trinidad, Finland, theater, and metal). It was far easier to brand myself as musician- the music speaks for itself. “Branding” became somewhat of an identity crisis more than anything else, and I longed for success so I could get to a point where branding didn’t matter so much.
And then I saw the W Magazine article interviewing Ana Lily Amirpour and Julia Ducournau (two highlighted horror directors emerging from TIFF this year with feature films), and the second I saw their photos, I could immediately relate to them. I realized that as a director – like being a musician: your work is your brand. This is the club I belong to. This is the movement that I strive to be a part of. It’s clear that women directors no longer have to shove themselves into a “male director costume” in order to be taken seriously. We can be as fashionable and presentable as actors. I will say this- when I directed and acted in Queen Gorya, I was in a revealing gothic outfit for the entire shoot, and I was treated with nothing but respect. The director is the chef, and everyone wants to do a good job and get home as fast as possible. No time, no room for a lack of respect.
IN COMES the new wave of intellectual, or “mature” genre films. Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation. Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In. I’ve been writing films since 2010, but only recently honed in on writing feature length screenplays. On this journey, as all writers do, I have been finding my “voice.” After years of accumulating a strong interest in high-end genre (horror, sci-fi mostly), I realize that these are also the stories that I tend to write most. It’s an exciting time, as science fiction is due to catch up to horror, and for fans and creators alike, we are frothing at the mouth for films like The Arrival.
I have found my new inspiration, my voice, and certainly a great place to be. I have peers that I look up to and can compete with that happen to be female, for a change. And it’s a thousand times easier to believe in yourself when you see someone who is the same sex doing the work you want to do.
So when it comes to fashion? I got it covered. Like when I just started out- I took my cues from Asia Argento for a particular character I was working on. It stuck.
It will all balance out in the end. Back to the rewrites.