It has been my dream to connect filmmakers from across the world - give them an opportunity to share wisdom, methods, and best practices. Ever since I started the community, Women Making Films - this has been my pivotal objective.

A socially awkward, anxious and sociophobic person like me, has practically zero chances of walking up to an established filmmaker and strike a charismatic conversation about community building. So I took to technology - what a boon it is indeed.

In my earlier post, I had mentioned that it has been a year since WMF was founded and so far I have interviewed several filmmakers with thought provoking questions specific to their style, films, and genre. The readers found it very engaging. My idea was to make female filmmakers' names a commonplace in conversation about cinema. Because often we notice how quick we are to quote a Scorsese or a Mani Ratnam, but not a woman spare a few names like Bigelow and Sofia Coppola, and it irked me. So I started the following series to change the mindset and put back women in conversation:

1) The Female Idol Blog Series: an interview that has about 10-12 questions which are answered via text - and is published on the site and distributed widely via social media.

2) In Conversation With Series: where filmmakers get candid and answer questions into a camera while I ask questions and record her answers. These are very impromptu and sincere.

3) Misguided Portrayal Series: cinema is sexist. Filmmakers are too, a lot of them - the misguided portrayal series attacks the sexism, misogyny, and gender-based violence in films - that propagate into real life, ruthlessly. This is of controversial nature and can get me into a lot of trouble - but I am unstoppable.

4) AMA With The Filmmaker Series: rather than asking all the questions by myself, I thought I would give the members of the community and the world at large, an opportunity to speak to their favourite filmmakers one-on-one. I would gladly do the toil of persistently being in touch with the filmmakers, or their managers while the members of the community just have to send in their questions - which would be curated and sent to the filmmaker. The latest one was a big hit - with the animator of Sita Sings The Blues, Nina Paley.

5) Everyday Feature Series: on social media, I have posted about long forgotten artists of the yester years and brought them back to life through their work. I have so far conducted various series on cinematographers, producers, sound designers, screenplay writers, casting directors, music composers, animators, editors, stunt women, makeup artists, and gaffers. Some of these filmmakers do not even have photographs of them online. I have posted about women from Africa, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, Nigeria, India, and so many other countries. And some of the feature series include

Cannes Let Down

Breaking Stereotype

and many more...

6) I also used technology to its optimum use by conducting the historic film festival of women made films in 10 cities across India in the span of 15 days. Aptly named as The First Festival, I got in touch with absolute strangers, my strength being just my conviction and a precarious amount of belief in community building. I sold them an idea that must be so ordinary and yet its lack is its very need. I sold them the idea that they could be behind an act of making a bunch of people taking time off of whatever they were doing, to spend it watching films made by women, exclusively. I am highly indebted to all those who supported me and hoping they would keep supporting me. I must point out at this point that I DID NOT SPEND ANY MONEY FOR THIS FESTIVAL. I have since conducted 13 film festivals all over India and even an International one in New York.

This is also a single event which the national media covered so fervently. As for me, it was a great feeling to manage all of this sitting in my bedroom - but a deeper grief struck me so hard. Why is this a big deal - when it should be as normal as a man making a film? Well, that's where years of feminist struggles come reeling into my mind and I shake the grief off to focus on what needs to be done to break the wretched glass ceiling.

None of this would have been possible without technology - literally none of this. And to think that there is just me, and my endless nights of insomnia and feverish enthusiasm that drives the entire community is a feeling of superlative elation.

Here's to women and cinema and here's hoping that technology would shrink the gap in bringing women together under one virtual umbrella.

This post was submitted in response to The Possibilities of Technology.

Comments

Avishnavi, this is an inspiring and amazing journey. I can only wish you the best in all your endeavours and pursuits in trying to bridge the gap between men and women in a male dominated field.

Keep the flame burning girlfriend,

Avera

Avera

Hey Vaishnavi,

It is so significant, all the work you are doing to break stereotypes that are so deeply rooted in our society even in a industry (Film) which looks very progressive superficially. The ideas of your work are amazing and may you get more and more success in all your endeavours.

Having said that I also want to ask you one question which is- Are you planning to organize festivals like these in small cities and towns also? Because these are the places where people get no or very less exposure or they are not aware of the things they should be. Good luck, looking to hear more of your stories...

:))

Hi Rupal.. thank you. To answer your question, yes - I try to organise screenings in slum areas, corporation schools and areas that are completely removed from mainstream. I must warn you, it is not easy. And in places where there are no facilities all expenses are on me as an individual. (Projector, sound system, screen et al, comes up to 10k) Because I have quit my cushy job and am living out of my savings, I am able to only do limited screenings. Having said that, please check the "children outreach programme" on the site which is soliciting funds from benefactors that aid more such screenings. I am not backed by a corporate or an angel investor, it sometimes brings tears to my eyes that I've managed just this much but there is such a long way to go. It is obvious that I've given up my job for this and gradually, I'll take it up to the next level. I know I will. With or without outside support. Such is the conviction that makes activism possible. And am on it, with all your kind words and emotional strength. Thanks for stopping by. Ive incidentally collaborated with a plethora of tiny villages within TN - money being the only inhabitant. Let's see how that pans out.

Having said that, there is enough de-weeding required in urban metros too. One day at a time. One day at a time.

Dear Vaishnavi,

Amazing efforts and endeavor with your wonder initiative of Women Making films. Your stories, experiences and work is something people should be proud of,its easier to run a business when you have a backup and a job in hand,wheras to do everything yourself and that too speak on issues,project the rare issues ,create films, organize festivals, interview the special women..all is commendable.

Glad to have you in the leadrship group,which shall learn more from your leadership . WorldPulse is a platform that would provide more stregth and empower your thoughts .

Thanks

Best wishes,

Soumya

Worldpulse Community Champion

Leadership group

This is such an empowering post! Your passion and enthusiasm for the use of technology to attack and address several social injustices has helped many women unite, and is inspiring to us all. I look forward to hearing more about your future endeavours!