Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 74. The alarm sounds at 3:45am. It feels ridiculous to be awake at this hour and to actually be putting on clothing. I’m not sure I ever really slept even though we were in bed with lights out by 9pm. My thoughts were on my lines. I keep saying, “figure out” instead of, “decide” and that’s bugging me. “Decide” is the much stronger word in the context of my scene. Decide, decide, decide. When I do drift off it’s fitful sleep. I wake up at one point above the covers in the fetal position with one arm up in the air. No idea what that’s about. Maybe I had a question for my dreams.
The Midwestern weather has shifted my scene schedule and my big emotional scenes are now tomorrow instead of Friday. My stomach isn’t sure how it feels about that. But, I am. It’s fine. I’m prepared. I’ve been “living” Linda, my character, for a few weeks now—her shoes, her jeans, her wedding ring, her life, her pain, her struggles. She’s a complicated woman. Aren’t we all? I can’t help but get excited about my slate of three films and the complicated female characters in them. Women are so often simplified, one dimensional and dumbed down for mainstream movies. They’re set pieces or pawns in the big boys’ world. Turns out that very few films nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture this year passed the Bechdel Test. I didn’t know what the Bechdel Test was either until I saw my friend Meagan’s Facebook post about it right before the Oscars last month. This is the test:
1. A movie must have two women characters who have names,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.
As Jessica Wakeman writes in her article about it for The Frisky, “Moneyball doesn’t pass, Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close doesn’t pass, The Tree of Life doesn’t pass. Hugo passes with five seconds of dialogue between two women with names and Midnight in Paris barely passes with 15 seconds of dialogue about purchasing furniture.” It’s a man’s world…at least in the movies.
I’m just realizing that the script I’m writing for the third film in my slate actually won’t pass. There’s only one female character so she never talks to another woman! Oh that’s kinda hilarious. I’m not too concerned. The story centers on a very real, complicated, layered woman. And that’s what I want to see more of represented in film: real women. According to Wakeman, “Bechdel’s point was that the majority of mainstream films relegate women to the role of “girlfriend,” “wife” or “princess in a tower who needs to be saved by a knight in shining arming” and this is problematic for women’s substantive representation in film.” Linda doesn’t fall into any of those categories. And because of that, I’m not only literally flying at this moment, but I’m also figuratively flying high. I’m so thankful I get the opportunity to play a character that represents a real woman dealing with a real situation in life.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…real women in your life.