From Anna Falguères:
I have the impression that things are different in France compared to the US. In France a form of seduction is always expected from women, like something that would seal the deal or add to the reason for which she will be hired. And that is why, very often still, there is a form of continuous suspicion that a woman might be in her position because of her physical attributes rather than her skills, which is a real problem!
This form of prejudice is so deeply rooted that for instance, I had to struggle against it myself. I can recall having to fight against my own instincts to get myself to hire beautiful female collaborators. By resisting these false ideas, I realized that what really matters in the end is how the person facing me wants to use his power. Man or woman, woman or man, it is the way we relate to power that creates a healthy or unhealthy working relationship.
Filmmaking leads to a form of hierarchy and we are not equal facing this particular challenge of exercise of power. And yet, I don’t have the feeling that gender is where the difference lies. In my work, I have known, without distinction, both ruthless men and ruthless women.
From Valérie Valéro:
When I started (as Art Director) I was one of the very few women in charge of supervising like 50 constructors and painters, who were whistling at me, with those porn posters in their lockers. To stand out as art director at 25, I had to buy cowboy boots and to stop wearing skirts!!!
So many times, I had to face this kind of indelicate behaviors from men. Moral and sexual harassment, threats and tracking in carparks up to my place, in which I never conceded and which caused some jobs losses.....it happened with directors, D.O.P.s, many production designers.....No harassment from producers, by the way...
From Emma Cuillery :
I give you my opinion on this point and I confirm, there is still great misogyny in our environment. When I started 18 years ago, I really had to get super-angry in front of sexist conducts, totally inappropriate, but then, having a strong temper myself, and able to threaten the bad ones, it did never bother me.
Misogyny is also somewhere else, and it appears more clearly to me now as production designer, this mentality is embedded deep inside ourselves, even in we, women. Before, I was confronted with technicians who were pretending to know better than me (young and female) what to do, but things changed when they realized I was not saying bullshit.
Today, it keeps me even angrier, even if I’m quite accustomed to being treated as a UFO. Even in our association ADC, I can hear disrespectful reactions like "Why did they hire you for this Gauguin project, quite strange... ?", meaning between the lines "how come, with whom did you sleep to get the job... ?".
Producers and Directors I meet will systematically get an a priori, a lack of trust despite my references, not because I’m young (I’m not that young now, 40, the age of many production designers), but because I’m a woman. I can clearly see the difference with my boyfriend, same age, same situation, but never such reactions of mistrust.
Obviously, the answer should be to suggest to women victims to be able to loudly report the inappropriate and sexist behaviors in our working environment, but the biggest work is to change mentalities, to highlight the fact that a woman is not less competent or talented than a man at a high position... Fortunately in France, we are rich with many women Directors or Directors of Photography.
From Chloé Cambournac :
Many genders, personalities, and ego compose a film crew. A film crew is like a micro-society, with its own life’s duration, and when it comes to being dysfunctional, then it becomes unsafe...Egoistic disorders, authority abuses, paternalistic attitudes... Composing a film crew is almost a lifetime achievement, and not less rewarding and interesting than working on our personal aesthetic expression as PDs.
Historical evolution of our department :
From studio setup to "la nouvelle vague", the skills needed for the art department crew evolved. But still, the hierarchy remains. Very vertical, very pyramidal.
Men should handle the job. Woman can’t. Stay on your line. It’s not a woman’s job. Let me do it for you.
We all have heard those statements at least once.
Pyramidal order makes you feel like you’re working for someone. Therefore, you need to attract your superior’s attention, in order to be noticed. You need to put yourself into the light, in order to evolve.
Those behavioral patterns are very known, very ancient, and could eventually lead to abuses.
As a PD, I am not looking over the "best persons for the job", skill wise, but I’d rather focus on composing a coherent group within individual personalities. If the Art Department crew functions as a group, it becomes more efficient, more mindful to each other’s wellness. It’s safer here: you can learn, exchange opinions, and grow among the group. Working as a group creates the will to make things right, to make it happen together. It creates energy. Proposals. New ideas. It creates a new orders for doing things. New facets. It’s a constant renewing.
There are many ways to built a bright city.. by volunteering the people, or by using force and slavery against them. I strongly believe into the idea of volunteering: it gives you freedom, rights, and the strengh to refuse.
back to top
back to FORUM