Thumbing through choices on Netflix or Amazon Prime is often frustrating because so few films pop up that have female stars. Camp Takota showed up as a featured choice on Netflix and I took the bait. This film has 3 lead female characters, played by actresses I’d never heard of: Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart.
Seems I’m not part of the in-the-know-crowd, because Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart are famous for their YouTube presences. They have large followings for their particular brands of comedy fun.
The film hit Netflix on December 1. This indie project is a groundbreaking effort by the trio at a full length feature. It’s one of the first long-form films to feature multiple YouTube stars, so I’m sure many YouTube celebrities have been watching it closely to see how it fares. It’s been doing well on iTunes since its release early in 2014.
Camp Takota was funny, it was charming, it was delightful in a lot of ways. It was also very obviously low budget and predictable. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying it and from encouraging the indie efforts of these 3 very funny women. You’ll have a good time at camp with these people.
We, as consumers, can do something about this lack of diversity. I’ll get to how in a minute.
The article containing this infographic talks how independent films and filmmakers can bring about change in what we see in movies. Four independent filmmakers are interviewed in the article. They talk about what they are doing and how they use crowd sourced fundraising tools like Kickstarter to get films made.
The filmmakers interviewed also talk about watching films from other countries in languages other than English. Several people talked about rejecting attempts from directors and writers to create stereotypes rather than more realistic characters.
The situation right now is that when a film with a female lead such as The Hunger Games or Bridesmaids takes the box office the Hollywood power structure is as surprised as Fox News was when President Obama was reelected in 2012. It shouldn’t be a surprise, it should be expected.
How Consumers Can Help
We, as consumers, are the ones spending the dollars at the box office. We, as consumers, are the ones choosing the channel on the TV or setting the DVR to record. What can we do to increase diversity?
Here are a few ideas.
Pay attention to Kickstarter or other fund raising campaigns for indie films and support them with a few bucks. It costs you $10 to go out to a movie, $20 if you buy a drink and some popcorn. Why not give that amount to a filmmaker who is struggling to create a film with a more diverse outlook and cast than what you’ll see at the local multiplex? For a while now, I’ve been promoting a Paper.li publication about Women Directors. Perhaps you’ve noticed links to it in my Twitter stream. Many times you’ll find links to fund raising campaigns mentioned in this publication. Start reading it.
Support indie filmmakers by watching their work. Sometimes you have to work a bit to find it. It might be shown as a web series or on Vimeo or in only one theater in your town that isn’t the biggest multiplex. Find it and go.
Look for stereotypes and stop supporting films and TV shows that support stereotypes. Talk about why you’re doing it on your blog or Twitter. Demand diversity.
Make your viewership for movies and TV shows and web series count. Make your eyeballs register numbers and stats in the places where diversity is done right.
Use Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu to watch foreign films of quality. There are plenty of them. You can read. Use that skill to read subtitles and you’ll see some amazing stories.
Lee and Low Books have done similar studies of The Tony Awards, The Emmy Awards, the children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, and US politics. Thanks to them for organizing this information and making accessible visuals to help us understand the stats.
. . . gives films points for representations of people which avoid harmful and limiting stereotypes, as well as for having diversity behind-the-camera. There are 27 possible points in the test, but any film scoring 11 or above receives an “A” for representation.
Downloading and using this test, and talking about your scores in public places such as your blog and Twitter is another good way that you as a consumer can help change the status quo. You may want to to check back for new versions of the test from time to time, because the creators say it will evolve over time.