Meredith Borders, managing editor of BadassDigest, a genre news film site run by the people at Drafthouse Films, just posted a short article wondering where are all the female entrants to the second ABC'S OF DEATH contest.
You see, the first film was essentially a sausage fest except for two segments out of the 26: one directed by Angela Bettis (ROMAN) and the other co-directed by Helene Cattet (AMER). This year, the ratio is slightly better: three women directors, Jen and Sylvia Soska (co-directing one segment) and Kristina Buozyte with a potential fourth female director if one happens to win the current contest in which filmmakers are asked to submit a short film and viewers vote to pick the new director. The comments on the article range from people lamenting how they can't name more than five women horror director to people suggesting that Karen Lam, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Maude Michaud are good possibilities to people saying that the reason women don't direct horror is because women characters are marginalized in horror and in our culture et cetera.
Borders states she is a feminist and I am really happy that someone with so much power at Drafthouse is willing to come out and say that she really wishes there were more women included in this thing. However, Borders doesn't ask the question that I think is really obvious: why were only three women asked to participate in THE ABC'S OF DEATH 2 from the get-go?
"Because there aren't any women horror directors to ask," you suggest? There are actually like dozens. I can name dozens. Right now. Danielle Harris, Karen Lam, Barbara Stepansky, Jovanka Vuckovic, Brea Grant, Axelle Carolyn, Marina de Van, Caroline Dupotet, Rie Rasmussen, Kristina Klebe, Devi Snively, Sofia Carrillo, Faye Jackson, Rania Ajami, Emily Hagins (she seems like a no-brainer for Drafthouse, which has been one of her biggest supporters in Austin, Texas), Amber Benson, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Maude Michaud, Izabel Grondin, Danishka Esterhazy, Elza Kephart, Gigi Romero, Asia Argento, Debbie Rochon, Mae Catt, Rebekah McKendry, Marichelle Daywalt, Anouk Whissell, Julia Ostertag, Tii Riks, Jen Moss, Jessi Gotta, Lindsay Denniberg, Juliet Landau, Isabelle Gaumont, Jenn Wexler, Mattie Do, Amy Hesketh, Jen Thym, Ursula Dabrowsky… and this is just off the top of my head. Any of these directors would be completely qualified to stand next to The Soskas and any of the male directors already currently hired for the ABC'S OF DEATH 2. Not to mention that there are women directors with long careers in horror and even cult followings that may be available for something like this including Amy Holden Jones, Jennifer Lynch, Mary Harron, Mary Lambert, Katt Shea, Jackie Kong, Barbara Peeters, Tammi Sutton, and Deryn Warren. And, I can think of some actresses and writers that have been interested in directing for a long time who would be not only great at cutting their teeth on an ABC'S OF DEATH 2 segment but would also bring a lot of fan love to the entire project like Tiffany Shepis, Diablo Cody, Heather Langenkamp, Juliet Snowden, and Brinke Stevens.
I think, if maybe more women directors were represented as actual hires from the beginning, more women would be encouraged to actually enter the contest. I'm not surprised some women may not feel encouraged or excited about entering if they feel that there's already a barrier between them and the project. I'm curious why more women were not initially hired, especially when there are people at Drafthouse, like Borders, who are clearly aware of women directors and want more of them in the project. If the producers are interested in what women are doing, they're more than welcome to read my blog. And I'd be happy to make any suggestions or connections they might need for an ABC'S OF DEATH 3 that is more gender-balanced. The real tragedy here, of course, is that they haven't read my blog. I mean, that's the main, larger, much more important issue: me and my stuff and my ego. Me. Me. Me.
EDIT: director Marcy Boyle (NOBODY CAN COOL) reminded me of an article I wrote in 2011 about this same issue, to which producer Ant Timpson responded. You can read the article here, and this was Ant's response to the original article:
Just wanted to say that I actually went all out not to make this a sausage fest and even though I didn't invite Marina (agggrhh one of my favourite films ever is IN MY SKIN) as I had a brainfart and totally forgot about her. Not sure she would have done it but I love her work.
I made an effort to try and get quite a few women involved. I wanted Katt Shea and even approached her via Facebook. You have to understand that this was a low-fi project at the start, Magnet weren't involved it was just myself and Tim trying to put it together. I don't want to mention other names. The issue was that some higher profile women directors simply did not respond or had agents protecting them from projects like this. So what happens is that we fall back onto who we know (and into that bloody boys club) which is directors we have personal contact with and who can make a call about participation immediately. This whole thing was being rushed for Cannes like you wouldn't believe.
I have no issue with the anger in your tone as I believe its totally warranted. It is a sausage fest in horror. I see all these gatherings of horror directors and its always dudes with one token woman in the photos. I don't think there's a conscious decision to exclude but there's also a huge fucking lack of getting them recognition.
Anyway, just wanted to say that there was consideration and I did try. We just had time and some other pressures working against us.
Keep up the good fight.
But my ego aside, here are the current entries in the ABC'S OF DEATH 2 search for the 26th director:
M IS FOR MAKE BELIEVE written and directed by Summer Johnson:
M IS FOR MEMORY co-directed by Melanie Coleman:
M IS FOR MONEY co-directed by Shelly Doss:
M IS FOR MASK directed by Arianne Goddard:
M IS FOR MISERYEATER directed by Alicia R Norman:
M IS FOR MATERNITY WARD directed by Val O. Morris (I know her! Hey Val!):
M IS FOR MOLESTER co-directed by Sebrina Bedard:
M IS FOR MUCUS also co-directed by Sebrina Bedard:
I happen to know that there are a few more women who are going to submit before the deadline, like Ama Lea and Emma Julia Jacobs, and the contest doesn't end submissions until October 31st, 2013 so who knows how many they may get between now and then. Voting goes on until November 30th, 2013 and the winner will be announced on December 15th. I really do hope it's a woman who wins (and because she deserves it, not as a hand-out because of her vagina) just because – honestly – out of 26 segments the producers only invited three women? That's a bit silly.
I'll keep you posted on this!