Before Patricia Arquette picked up the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood, she told her boyfriend that if she won, she was going to say something that might make her lose some jobs in Hollywood. She did win and used her 60-second acceptance speech to address gender quality and a serious wage gap between men and women in the film industry.
Arquette admitted that she has lost some jobs following her Oscar sermon during a panel discussion with three new filmmakers—directors Erin Sanger, Emily Harrold and producer Anne Munger—at the Smyth Hotel’s Little Park in New York City. The actress addressed the issues women continue to face in the film industry and showcase the filmmakers’ upcoming, short films—following a female dog musher in Alaska, a Mexican chef de cuisine in New York City and a wearable tech fashion designer—produced with the help of Tribeca Digital Studios and ActuallySheCan. (All three films will be screened during the upcoming 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, April 13-24, in New York City.)
The women convened to talk filmmaking and why they’re still not making as much as men. Praising the Tribeca-ActuallySheCan campaign as an “incubator” of female talent, Arquette said that so few women still don’t have the chance to put together a short form film to present to studios, which is a big reason why there so still so few female filmmakers in Hollywood.
Arquette referenced Kathryn Bigelow’s (Point Break) 2010 Best Director win for The Hurt Locker—the first woman to win in the category. “These things do happen when somebody has a chance,” she said.
She also addressed the backlash that Jennifer Lawrence faced when she defended her lower pay scale, following the Guardians of the Peace Sony hacking in 2014, which revealed that the actress was paid less than her male co-stars. “It’s not something that’s subterranean,” said Arquette. “It’s a conscious bias.”
Despite women getting more prominent roles in film, female filmmakers in general, particularly those of color, are still being oppressed, according to Arquette. “We have to continue this conversation,” said Arquette. “It’s not acceptable that there are only seven percent female filmmakers. As a film lover, I think film suffers…art suffers for it. She added “So many films are still seen through the male gaze.”
In 2014, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that 92 percent had no female cinematographers, 85 percent of films lacked female directors and 80 percent didn’t employ female writers.
Ann Munger, who produced Chromat (directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg), a documentary on wearable technology designer Becca McCharen, said she has benefitted from female mentors within the industry but there’s an obvious imbalance when it comes to filmmaking opportunities for women. For 25-year-old director Sanger, gender inequality within the industry is still masked.
“Sexism in the industry is insidious,” said Sanger, who directedWomen in the Wild, which documents photojournalist Katie Orlinsky as she follows female dog sledder Kristin Knight Pace. “No one ever says they’re not hiring you because you’re a woman. It’s not as blatant.”
This sexism doesn’t just exist in Hollywood. There’s still an imbalance in 98 percent of all industries, said Arquette, who urged women to continue to speak up about this inequality. She added that the recent California Fair Pay legislation, which eliminated the gender wage gap in the state, does not remedy the bigger problem. “It’s not enough to have fair pay in one state,” said Arquette. “Women everywhere need equality.”
Arquette added, “These arguments are Paleolithic. You can’t talk caveman to me.”
ActuallySheCan, Tribeca Film Festival Picks
Interested in seeing what this year’s ActuallySheCan filmmakers have to offer? Here’s a quick rundown:
In Chromat, documentarians Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg present something that’s still unorthodox in fashion—wearable technology—by following designer Becca McCharen as she pulled together her collection in time for New York Fashion Week.
In Women in the Wild, director Erin Sanger documents two women: photojournalist Katie Orlinsky as she follows dog musher Kristin Knight Pace through the wilds of Alaska as she attempts to conquer the 2016 Iditaro Trail Sled Dog Race.
Emily Harrold spotlights 25-year-old Daniela Soto-Innes, chef de cuisine at Mexican restaurant Cosme in New York City. In The Cocinera, Harrold follows Soto-Innes back to her beginnings in Mexico and through the present day as she works on launching lunch at the restaurant.