Tag Archives: Film

Women in Pictures: The Scary Truth about Women in Today’s Media

women“Today is National Women’s Day!” That’s how MeLissa greeted me this morning. “Hooray!!” was my first thought but as the idea began to process I wondered, what does that even mean? We should do something to celebrate, of course, but how? Intent has always included messages of feminism and sisterhood on the blog and via intents, but a lot of places don’t.

MeLissa and I recently attended a workshop for women with an interest in directing and we learned some startling statistics about the representation of women in media. The following facts come from the Geena Davis Institute  on Gender in Media which conducts various studies on the position of women in film and media.

  • Males outnumber females 3 to 1 in family films. In contrast, females comprise just over 50% of the population in the United States. Even more staggering is the fact that this ratio, as seen in family films, is the same as it was in 1946.
  • Crowd scenes in film and television are 17% female on average, despite women representing 51% of the world population.
  • Females are almost four times as likely as males to be shown in sexy attire. Further, females are nearly twice as likely as males to be shown with a diminutive waistline. Generally unrealistic figures are more likely to be seen on females than males.
  • Females are also underrepresented behind the camera. Across 1,565 content creators, only 7% of directors, 13% of writers, and 20% of producers are female. This translates to 4.8 males working behind-the-scenes to every one female.
  • From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.

No wonder women need a day to be celebrated. Part of the reason feminism is still a thing is because of statistics like this. When the images our children and the general public are confronted with are women in secondary roles or as sexual objects it becomes ingrained for women to aspire to these positions and for society to treat them as such. To start seeing a change we have to start portraying the change. It’s as simple as screenwriters adding “must be half-female” into their scripts when writing a crowd scene. Last year the number one selling movie worldwide was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and it was the first time in more than 40 years that a movie with a female lead topped the annual box office.

Luckily, there are many women leading the fight to change the way media portrays (or fails to portray) women in film and television. Last weekend Cate Blanchett won the Academy Award for her portrayal of a depressed woman trying to stay afloat in her own life in Blue Jasmine. When accepting the award she said this, “To the few in this industry that are still clinging to the idea that films with women at the center are niche – they are not. People want to see them and they make money. The world is round, people.” Case in point: Blue Jasmine, Bridesmaids, The Heat. When Lupita Nyong’o gave her speech for her Best Supporting Actress award she also said, “When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child that your dreams are valid!” On the surface it is such an inspiring statement, but what it really depicts is the sad truth that there are many children whose dreams are diminished by mainstream media’s backward policies on gender, race and sexuality.

Emma Thompson has also announced that she’ll be spending 2014 making a documentary about women in film because she’s disgusted with the way things currently are.

While it’s inspiring to know there are so many professional women fighting to make a difference in women’s opportunities both on screen and behind the lens – these numbers are scary. Not only to myself and MeLissa who are aspiring screenwriters but to the world in general. Do I want my future daughters to watch cartoons where all the girl characters are still sex objects? I want to be able to name pop culture examples of women that have been in charge because of a combination of their intellect, compassion and beauty rather than how great she looks in a pencil skirt. I want my daughter to inherit a media landscape where Kathryn Bigelow isn’t the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for directing.

The numbers are changing, so we’re being told, but it isn’t happening soon enough – especially if some of them haven’t changed since the 40s. Today is National Women’s Day but every day should be cause for us to stand up and support each other and create a more viable place for women in media and film. Our stories deserve to be told, to be validated as much as our male counterparts. We have to keep up the good fight so can stop differentiating between “men” and “women” stories and instead train ourselves and the world to see them all as what they really are – human stories.

[VIDEO] “Spark” Some Magic

We don’t always know when love will find us, but it only takes a “Spark”!

A new production company in Los Angeles released their debut project today, just in time to make you fall in love! The short, adorable film follows a couple who has no idea they’re about to meet the love of their life and the restaurant that conspires to help them realize it. And it features our own MeLissa GavarretteImagine one of those Pixar shorts that melt your heart, just with real, live human beings.

Who are you going to spark with this Valentine’s Day? You never know when the right person is going to show up in your life…Go kiss somebody!

Jehane Noujaim Receives Academy Award Nomination for Documentary “The Square”

Jehane NoujaimWith her unusual background and upbringing between the United States and the Middle East, Jehane Noujaim has a unique vantage point from which to film the stories of the Arab Spring. In her newest documentary “The Square,” Noujaim follows a number of Egyptians through the ongoing Egyptian Revolution. That unique vantage point helped score an Academy Award nomination this morning for Best Documentary Feature (a first for a Netflix feature film).

The organic way in which the film’s crew came together is one of the many unique twists that makes Noujaim’s brand of storytelling particularly engaging and insightful. The team met in Tahrir Square as the protests began. All brought there by a similar desire to witness history and then to share what was happening with the world. The danger to herself and the crew was very real and they were arrested on several occasions but the importance of sharing this story was larger than the fear of arrest.

In discussing her film, Noujaim speaks with a frankness of one who has a genuine passion for the story she is telling. The daughter of an American mother and an Egyptian father, she felt a deep connection to the people and to the story. “I grew up ten minutes away from Tahrir so I felt I had no choice but to be there,” she explains in her interview with Deepak Chopra.

Jehane Noujaim set out not to tell the story of the victors, who can hardly be named as the revolution is still ongoing, but rather to explore the reasons the Egyptian people were protesting. She wanted to explore what is it like when you feel like you’ve lost. In the moments of hopelessness what keeps a revolutionary going? Those are the critical moments, the world should know what makes those people come back the next day and continue fighting for what they believe in.

When exploring issues of war and revolution there is always a tendency to place blame, either with a dictatorial leader, with a fundamentalist rebellion or with an overzealous military. Noujaim shies away from such bold pronouncements. The only conclusion that she can come to about the ongoing struggles in Egypt is that all of these actors are merely symptoms of the larger issue. They are symptoms of a system that has a lack of consciousness and an inability to protect all Egyptians equally.

Despite this disheartening reality, she maintains a deep seeded optimism that she credits to the people she was able to follow in her film and others that she had the opportunity to meet during the five years she spent filming in Tahrir Square. Their conviction is clear, they want a better life for themselves, their children and for the people of Egypt. Noujaim’s mission is to present the stories of these real people engaging in a struggle that is larger than themselves and working to create positive change. For Jehane Noujaim, this is the story of the Egyptian Revolution and this is the story that demands telling. You can watch the trailer for “The Square” below.

The Academy Award ceremony will air March 2. Check your local listings for time.

Watch: 6 Year Old Creates Superhero Short Film with Help From Dad

6-year old Elliott Worley likes art, superheroes and his baby sisters. Elliott is an artist with a filmmaker father, Seth, and when the two combined their own super powers, Super Lion was born.

Super Lion is a character invented by Elliott who fights crime (specifically the evil Dr. Hyena) with the help of his trusty sidekick, Bumblebee. Seth took Elliott’s drawings and narration and turned it into the best movie trailer about lions we’ve ever seen. To top it all off, Seth recruited his own brother Ben Worley to create an epic theme for Super Lion. We not only get Super Lion’s origin story, but meet his sidekick Bumblebee (who has horns on his head so he can hear good!) and see them face off against Dr. Hyena.

Though his dad and uncle helped, Elliott is clearly on his way to an illustrious illustration/animation/filmmaking career. Really, the choices are endless, right? This is what happens when we notice our children’s creative potential and help them explore it in interesting and fun ways!

So moms and dads: what are some ways to collaborate with your children? Whether it’s making cookies or turning their random doodles into a movie the world can’t wait to see, amazing things come from spending time being creative with your family!

***

Elliott Worley’s SUPER LION from Seth Worley on Vimeo.

 

Need more?
You can watch Elliott’s first film “The Three Little Pigs”.
You should watch Seth’s most recent short, “Spy Vs Guy”.
You can download uncle Ben’s Super Lion score HERE, including the super awesome Super Lion remix.

My 8-Year-Old Daughter Defines “Utopia”

LostHorizon1937_thumb2For the most part, I make a big effort not to tell “cute things my daughter said” stories to anyone but the grandparents. I have a list of topics that are often boring to other people, and this subject definitely has a place there.

But I simply can’t resist telling these two connected stories.

Every Sunday night, we have “Movie Night,” when we watch a family movie. A few weeks ago, I chose the 1937 movie “Lost Horizon” (a great movie if you haven’t seen it).

My eight-year-old daughter was so delighted with the movie and the idea of Shangri-La that she was inspired to write  a sequel, about what happens when Robert Conway returns to that magical land. “I’m going to call it ‘Lost Horizon: Everyday Life in Utopia,’” she told me. Everyday life in Utopia! I love that phrase so much. It’s my new motto for my happiness projects.

I’d told her about the word “utopia” and what it meant. Some days later, I was reading aloud to her from Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I explained that Camazotz, in the book,  was a “dystopia,” and gave a little lecture about how that was the opposite of a utopia. My daughter listened patiently.

About a week later, as we continued with A Wrinkle in Time, I asked in a teacherly voice, “Now do you remember the word for the opposite of utopia?”

“Metopia,” she said, without missing a beat. It took me a moment to get the joke.

Everyday life in Utopia and Metopia!

* * *

Are you reading Happier at Home or The Happiness Project in a book group? Email me if you’d like the one-page discussion guide. Or if you’re reading it in a spirituality book club, a Bible study group, or the like, email me for the spirituality one-page discussion guide.

8 Amazing Behind-The-Scenes Photos from Jeff Bridges’ New Book “Pictures”

Awed by movie stars’ onscreen talents, we often forget that they, like everyone, are multifaceted people with many interests.

Jeff Bridges is among the best of the best, nominated for 6 Academy Awards, the star of countless classics like The Fisher King, Crazy Heart, The Big Lebowski, True Grit and many others. Never one to fit in a box, Bridges has now come out with a book of photographyPictures, which he’s been shooting and developing from behind the scenes of most of the films he’s made since 1984.

His photographs give us a rare and alternative look into the world of these films, which most of us only get to see as polished final products. The book is nominated for the 29th annual Infinity Awards – and for good reason. Take a look at these beautiful photos and see if you can recognize which films they come from!

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Photos via jeffbridges.com and NY Times.

Hilarious Acting Moment From the Late Jonathan Winters

zefNrgqIf you’re an improv-lover, an actor, or watched any comedy television from 1960 onwards, then you know the name Jonathan Winters. A pioneer in the comedy world, Winters passed away last night at the age of 87. He was responsible for almost single-handedly making improv a known and beloved style of comedy around the country, with shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? cropping up in his wake. You may also remember Winters from films like It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and the television show Mork & Mindy. Or perhaps you have your own favorite Winters movie or moment?

Here is Jonathan Winters at his finest, dressed up as a farmer and fictional past classmate of longtime Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson. Permission to laugh at loud, wherever you are:

We will miss you, Jonathan Winters! Rest in peace.

“Decoding Deepak”: A sneak-peak at the upcoming film

You probably know Deepak Chopra as a physician, a writer, a speaker, or, as he says, “an explorer of consciousness.” You may have read some (or all!) of his more than 65 books, and perhaps you’ve seen him speak at an event on consciousness, science, or spirituality. You may have seen videos of him on The Chopra Well. Remember this line from “Meet the Chopras”? “I am a luminous, stardust being that was manufactured in the dust of the Big Bang.” Classic Deepak.

Well, here is your chance to see another side of Deepak…Deepak Chopra the father, the grandfather, the everyday man living his life. Gotham, Deepak’s son, spent a year traveling around the world with his father in an attempt to unpack the persona that has developed around the man. The resulting documentary, “Decoding Deepak,” is scheduled for release in theaters and on demand October 5.

To give you an idea of what to look forward to, here is an excerpted scene from the film. In the scene, Gotham and Deepak have arrived in Thailand where Deepak is soon to be honored in a traditional Buddhist ceremony for monkhood. Separated from his work, social networks, and chaotic schedule, he grows restless.

Cool, huh? Yes, even Deepak Chopra is plugged in to social networks. And even Deepak Chopra can grow restless without them. This is just a taste of what’s to come.

Subscribe for The Chopra Well so you don’t miss the next excerpted scene from “Decoding Deepak.” And then catch the entire film, starting October 5, in select theaters and on demand.

Movie Director Discovers The Meaning Of Life

Movie director Tom Shadyac—best known for zany blockbuster comedies like Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty—inhabited a world many of us would envy, adorned by a lucrative Hollywood career, extravagant 17,000-square-foot mansion and even a private jet.

Then one day, everything changed. Shadyac took a nasty head-banging fall off his bicycle leaving him with debilitating post-concussion syndrome, agonizing symptoms and no guarantee he’d ever recover. As Shadyac says, “After several months of torture, I welcomed death.”

But unexpectedly, Shadyac began to heal and with it came a newfound sense of urgency to share the revelations he discovered during his turmoil: namely that the prizes and wealth he had amassed weren’t all they were cracked up to be. And since it was the world—media, culture, school—that sent young Tom a clear message that winning and getting lots of cool stuff would make him really happy  (newsflash—it didn’t), he was compelled to explore two heavyweight questions: what’s wrong with our world, and what can we do about it?

To figure it all out, Shadyac did what he does best. He grabbed a camera and a film crew to document his conversations with prominent thinkers such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, biologist Elisabet Sahtouris and linguist Noam Chomsky in a search to better understand life. The interviews in I AM are illuminating, thought provoking and ultimately hopeful, with a particularly eloquent Thom Hartmann beautifully articulating the nuance of his ideas.

Yet what struck me most about I AM was Shadyac himself. Through his storytelling, he takes the audience on a journey that is both deeply personal and unabashedly generous. We watch as he emerges from a painful injury and uses it as an opportunity to rediscover who he is and what matters most. Despite his Hollywood credentials, Shadyac comes across as a relatable everyman. Like Tom, how many of us have won the thing we most wanted—whether a job, relationship or possession—only to find its allure wanes over time? Then we feel driven to search for the next big thing that will make us happy again. That search is so common, there’s even a name for it. Psychologists call it the hedonic treadmill.

In I AM, the earnest Shadyac jumps off his shiny hedonic treadmill and makes a stunning decision that is at the heart of this film. As he describes it, “Something happened that forced me to rethink my priorities and take a sharp turn into uncharted territory.”

Often when we’re in “uncharted territory” and creating a completely new paradigm for our lives, as Shadyac is, we need to call in the troops to help us make sense of it all. And I believe that’s what these interviews do for the likeable Shadyac. He’s seeking evidence that he’s on the right track. And as we watch his life unfold in a new direction, I get the feeling he truly is.

The film is superbly photographed by Roko Belic who is seen briefly on camera. Interestingly, Shadyac executive produced Belic’s own documentary Happy, an exploration into the stories and science of human happiness. It appears that Shadyac is on a heartfelt mission to use film as a vehicle to not only entertain, but to stimulate a conversation with a higher purpose, and I applaud him for that.

I AM won’t give you all the answers to life, but it will inspire you with new and fascinating questions to ponder. And I think that’s exactly what Shadyac wants.

Want to watch I AM for free? GaiamTV is making the movie available for Intent readers who sign up for a 10-trial. You can stream the film — and get access hundreds of other inspirational documentaries, yoga classes, and lectures — with a free 10-day trial:

 

The Hero’s Journey: Answering The Call To Adventure

“We must be willing to get rid of the life that we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Josepeh Campbell

“Finding Joe” is a documentary that interviews visionaries from a wide variety of fields on how Joseph Campbell’s teachings on 'following your bliss' and 'The Hero’s Journey' can be applied to our everyday life, including our challenges and personal dragons.

While most inspirational documentaries focus on how good life can be if you get everything you want; “Finding Joe” stands out because it interviews real life people ranging from Deepak Chopra, Tony Hawk, to Rashida Jones about how their struggles, failures, and personal dragons were necessary to help them develop the capabilities to truly follow their bliss.

According to the film, everybody receives some sort of mysterious call to adventure or to awaken to a life previously unknown. Not everybody answers this call. However, those that do and then choose to act on this call embark on what Campbell and the film describe as 'The Hero’s Journey.'

As the documentary portrays in vivid detail from popular movies, enactments of classic tales by a group of sweet and motley group of kids, and first hand accounts from real people 'The Hero’s Journey' is filled with a series of tests, trials, or ordeals a person must go through to begin and complete a transformation. Often a person will fail one or more of these tests. But, if the hero remains steadfast and open to unexpected help along the way, he or she will emerge victorious.

For example, Campbell summarizes this process in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” when he writes,

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

I had the chance to interview the filmmaker for "Finding Joe", Patrick Solomon, and asked him what sort of dragons he faced in his personal journey. His answer was very insightful and eye-opening:

“On my own personal journey, there are a lot of challenges in making a movie. I went down this road when I first started this movie. And I shot a bunch of things. I went to Bali. I went to Jerusalem. I shot just a ton of film and interviewed a bunch of people and when I started to put that together it wasn’t working.

So, at some point, I had to admit that this wasn’t going to work and we got to take another path. But, that to me was a dragon. That was months and months of work and thousands and thousands of dollars that I kind of had to let go of and come to grips with the truth that that wasn’t going to work. And, that was a wrestling match and that took months to come to the point of saying ‘okay man this isn’t going to work, you gotta let that go.' And, I’m glad I did because the movie would be quite different had I hung onto that.”

“Finding Joe” started playing in theaters on the West Coast this past weekend. For more information on where it is playing, please visit the film’s Web site at http://www.findingjoethemovie.com/.

Finding Joe is truly a transformational film that will help anyone who is wrestling with a personal dragon right now, but knows in their heart that they are on path. Or as Joseph Campbell said,

“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls.”

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