Men vs. Women – The Eternal Losing Battle

Today, I had a conversation about whether women should only hire women to work on their films.

It’s a tough question. So I’d like to pose another question…should men only hire men to work on their films?

Ah, but that’s already happening. So should we pull the old “they did it first” or are we stronger than that?

I’m on the fence most of the time and my conversation reflected this quandary.  Hence me rambling here…with no beverage in hand. Just plain honest ramble to follow-up on my earlier back and forth ramble (mostly with myself) in the conversation earlier today.

Of course, I want women to have more opportunity in the film industry. (I want that in the corporate world as well, but we’ll stick with this conversation for now or else we will all either be drunk, stoned, overly caffeinated or sugared up – depending on your choice of poison – before the night is through and that isn’t going to help – as fun as it may be.)

I want to treat others as I want to be treated.

So, my answer is simply hire the best person for the job. Period. Then I think – will people think I don’t want to help women by giving them a leg up? I must be a horrible person.

Is it horrible to want women who are ready for the job to be treated equally but not screw over our male counterparts in the process by discounting the men and only hiring the women even if the skill set is not there yet?

“BUT WAIT” – I know, I know…you are now thinking “but how can women move ahead if they are not given the opportunity to learn, Shari? Don’t you see you’re just making the situation worse?” (Okay maybe you are not thinking this, but the other voice in my head is. I’m complicated…) What I don’t want is for women to be hired that are not ready for the job as this will hurt their careers and the project they are working on.

I personally think (and know) that there are plenty of women out there right now who are qualified for the jobs, just like there are men.

So, I think hire the person who has the qualifications AND gets your project, connects to it.

Then I hear, only women understand films written by women, directed by women, etc. But then does that mean that only men can understand films written and directed by men? This is what got us in this mess in the first place.

I don’t have an answer, but just wanted to put these thoughts “on paper” (virtual paper) as I’m still figuring out how to balance it all. How do we help each other out as women without cutting ourselves off from 49% of the population – many of whom are incredibly talented people we might all want to work with?

It is an eternal conundrum.

Aly Raisman and Movie Making

So you’re probably thinking Shari has post Olympics blues and is desperately attempting to hold on to thoughts of gymnasts bending all the laws of physics distracting her from her life and her obligations. True, but not the reason for this post.

Aly Raisman went back to the Olympics because she just missed getting an All-Around Individual medal four years ago. Actually, she tied for the bronze, but the Olympic rules do not allow for ties in gymnastics. So there it was practically in her hands and then boom it was gone when the tiebreaker news was announced. How many times has that happened to all artists and in particular filmmakers? Your film is almost going to be funded, you are going to be hired to direct that film and then oops…on and on it goes…

So what did Aly Raisman do? She took a well-deserved break and then she re-focused and spent two years working towards her goal. That’s two years of 25 to 30 hours of tedious workouts and I am sure times of physical pain. She let everything else fade away in her life so she could have a chance – a CHANCE – at achieving her goals. There were no guarantees that she would make it back to the team or that she would get to try to go for the all-around title or that quite frankly she would qualify for it in the qualifying round at the Olympics. Again and again she had to prove to herself and the judges that she was ready for the challenge and would succeed in the end. Each time she stepped up, she is quoted as saying “four routines to go,” “three routines to go,”…

The look on her face when she finished her final routine – when she knew she had achieved that goal after countless days of practices and meets – was priceless. It showed happiness, complete relief, pent up emotions…the list goes on.

This is what we all face as artists when we hear “the funds fell through” or “we were going to hire you but then this other person brings more to the table so…” or “yeah, you made that great film last year, but now….” – again the list goes on and on.

We have to endure. We have to persevere. We cannot let a tiebreaker rule stop us for going for that gold. So when you are tired, fed-up and just thinking “what is the point” – watch some gymnastics. If they can defy physics, why can’t you defy it too?


Life is full of disappointments. People in particular can be very disappointing. Their motives are often completely unclear and their missing the value you have brought to them over the years is just stupefying. It’s a pity, but true more often than anyone wants to admit.

In the film industry, this happens all the time. Back-stabbing and lack of support and allowing yourself to be happily taken advantage of only to find that you are on the other side of a closed door after going those extra miles.

Recently, this happened to me. For no good reason. At all.

Well, don’t worry about it. I know, how can you not worry about not being respected? And you’re thinking “all that time I gave to this cause or this event or this person…” When you know damn well that you could have been supported without taking anything away from anyone else because there is room for everyone if people want to make the room – don’t get sad like I am now…get annoyed…I’m working my way to that point currently. It’s slow and I don’t have enough wine in me…yet. Say, as Sweet Charity says when she wakes up in the park and without a job, a man or a home, “good morning.” and welcome the new day. Accept the flower from the innocent flower person who doesn’t know you, but believes in you more than the pretenders of the world. And also, don’t talk to those other people anymore. You have nothing to prove to them. They don’t respect you. They are “takers” to quote Miss Kubelik in “The Apartment”.

Once you do that or even if you can’t get to that point, post something positive to your Facebook page. Slowly “@” everyone you know. See how many of your “friends” like it. See the people that rise to support you and soon those other people will be specs in the distance. Laugh when you see the people who rejected you and your work “like” your post as well. What are they insane? You rejected me, but now you “like” my exciting post. How terribly ironic. HA HA – vomit.

And, above all, learn damn it. Learn that you should not be helping people or going out of your way for people who have not proven they deserve it. Many people do deserve it. They are loyal. Find those people. Find those groups of people you can join who believe in you no matter what. They are there as well. Then, those other people will shrink in the distance because they don’t have good people like you to hold them up. We create our own monsters. We mustn’t continue to do that. Artists must not let themselves be used. Artists and honestly humanity can only thrive with people who support them and not those who pretend to do so.



Indie Filmmakers in Nature

My husband – Chris Benker/DP extraordinaire – requested that I tell the tale of our first camping trip together. Here it goes…

Chris decided to take me camping. Being that I’m from the city, I had never been camping before and he thought I was missing out. We spent two hours in traffic in New Jersey, discovered the people in the tent next to us brought their loudest speakers and house music, and when we were finishing up our hike later that day, we ran in to a bear. And I thought as the final incident began, “This is my last camping trip. If the bear mauls us to death, no more camping. If we survive – no more camping and possible divorce.”
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