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Filmmakers share ideas at Citizen Jane Summit

November 7, 2014


Emily Best is co-founder of Seed & Spark.

When it comes to movies and movie-making, it’s no secret women get the shaft. They often can’t get funding, and it’s much more difficult to break into the Hollywood “boy’s club.”
The stats are dire—just 9 percent of the 250 highest-grossing films in 2012 were directed by women—and organizers of the Citizen Jane Film Festival are out to change that. The festival, in its seventh year, is a festival that showcases the work of female filmmakers. 
Last year, organizers hosted the first ever Citizen Jane Film Festival Summit, a workshop bringing together industry experts to shine a light on the problems. This year’s summit, however, was about solutions.
“Mark my words, this isn’t just a festival; it’s a movement” Director Paula Elias said. “We’re in this to change the world.”
There is some good news for female filmmakers, speakers at the Summit told audience members at Historic Senior Hall.
Technology has made not only filmmaking more accessible to the masses, it’s also providing an outlet for new funding sources. Emily Best co-founded Seed & Spark, an online platform that allows filmmakers to campaign for audience members and funding. 
“To be a filmmaker is to always be a crowd funder,” she said. “The crowd has to come first.”

Filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff also had some encouraging ideas. She started Film Fatales, a grassroots community of female filmmakers. It started as a networking event at her home and today has more than 100 chapters across the country.
“It’s a girl’s club in response to the boy’s club,” she said.
Meyerhoff encouraged Missouri to start a Film Fatales chapter, to which Kerri Yost, festival organizer, agreed, challenging audience members to form one by the end of the festival.
The movement to end the trend of gross underrepresentation in Hollywood isn’t just a female battle. Imran Siddiquee, a founding staff member of The Representation Project—which released Miss Representation in 2011—said the current trends hurt everyone.
Some say Hollywood simply reflects society—but Siddiquee challenged that. Women might be underrepresented in other industries, but they are not underrepresented in daily life.
He argued that cinema is an experience in empathy—and for years, movie-goers have been conditioned to not feel empathy for certain groups of people. It's up to future filmmakers to change that.
“Cinema is the greatest tool for building empathy,” he said.
The CJFF Summit kicked off the four-day film festival that continues through Sunday. Filmmakers will host forums and workshops on campus today, and Kat Candler’s “Hellion” will be screened at 7:30 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre as part of opening night. A complete schedule can be found at
Read Stephens sophomore Shelly Romero’s interview with filmmaker and Columbia native Katie Mustard here.

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