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Why Female Filmmakers May Have an Edge Post-pandemic?
By BCW and Jill Rocco
April 22, 2020
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Yara Travieso Female Filmmaker featured on WOMANBOSS
Photo by Jeremy Rios of Digital Bodega. Yara Travieso directing on the set of "Sagittarius A."
"The future may prove to be an interesting time,” says this filmmaker.

With cinemas across the nation shut-down, film production paused, film festivals cancelled and studios postponing new releases, the picture for the film industry does not look too pretty in this pandemic era.  As we reach out to women in our community in search for individual’s own COVID story, we have uncovered a silver lining in the most unexpected place.

According to Women and Hollywood, while women account for 51% of moviegoers(MPAA 2018) on the top 100 grossing films of 2019, women represented on only 12% of directors, 20% of writers and 2% of cinematographers. The underrepresentation has been persistent over the years without meaningful improvements, even with so much more efforts being poured into advocacy, and much is led by celebrities in the industry itself.  The paradox is that many women filmmakers have been operating on the fringe of the industry, which gives them an edge in the current difficult times.   

Yara Travieso, a Brooklyn-based writer, director, filmmaker, choreographer and educator thinks female filmmakers are somewhat well prepared for the disruptions to this traditional industry. “The world is becoming so familiar with livestreams and phone cameras, it’s setting the stage for more independent experimental storytelling that breaks away from formulaic narrative, Hollywood, and the patriarchal traditions we have been stuck in for so long.”  La Medea, one of Yara’s films was actually shot, directed and live streamed all in real time. The future may prove to be an interesting time for female identifying filmmakers, who are already accustomed to working with very little resources, their own narrative structures, and very personal subject matters.” 

During what feels like completely uncertain times, the future of the film industry is not Yara’s main concern as she feels most of her community has never truly been inside the film industry. “The way I will prepare for whatever is next is by being even more clear about my own stories and far less concerned with the voices that have been historically heard or financed. I will prepare for the future by surrendering to the mess that is to be human right now… and sleeping more than I have ever slept!”  

Day after day our Instagram is flooded with profound creativity, emerging side hustles and COVID-19 updates. It’s difficult to wrap one’s head around how much has changed in such a short period of time. Every aspect of people’s lives and careers, different industries and platforms have been turned upside downTravieso states, “I have learned that it’s really, really, really hard to surrender to uncertainty when there is not one single person that feels certain about anything...I learned that so many vulnerable communities and artists have been doing the work of accepting their fears and transforming them into poetry, humor, and technicolor fireflies for centuries…”  

Historically, the film industry seems to favor a certain type of demographic. To this day, only five females were ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. Funding for women in the film industry as well as other industries of business has proven to be much more difficult based on gender. However, just because there are roadblocks, we are still able to enjoy incredible works of art from female filmmakers who have welcomed said challenges. Like so many other women in the film industry, Yara has faced similar challenges and hardships, but that did not stop her from contributing her art to the industry.   

“I imagine budgets will get tighter for productions and some of the bad habits of the film industry of only financing what’s familiar may be heightened… However, I can also see an exciting future for more independent projects and more agency for artists.” Although daunting, our time in quarantine may be exactly what certain industries need. A shock to the system, an introduction of new ideas and revolutionary talent being seen by the world.  

When asked what she is looking forward to most after quarantine, Yara said “I look forward to dance parties where everyone is sweating with the scent of a never-ending night. To laugh-crying with my friends as we hold each other and make jokes about the weird art were about to make. To biking past arguments, concerts, make out sessions, and babies laughing in the messy NYC streets. To the potential of falling in love with anything and anyone on a Wednesday morning. But mostly, I look forward to the good, the healing, and the weird art were all about to make!”  

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