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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

Girls On Film

No, not the Duran Duran song (though I have that stuck in my head now).

What would guy-centric movie scenes look like with chicks playing the roles instead? That’s what website The Girls on Film set out to find out. So they’re taking movie scenes with male actors and reshooting them (essentially shot-for-shot, so far as I could tell without a frame-by-frame analysis) with female actors. And at first I thought it was gimmicky but as it turns out, it’s really a fascinating project.

So far they have a couple of these up: Fight Club, Star Trek and The Town.

So go and take some time to watch them. If you only want to pick one, I recommend The Town. But they’re not that long, so if you have time, or you’re bored at work and wanting to kill a few minutes, go for it.

For me, watching each of these a couple times was kind of jarring at first, and then interesting as I re-watched to pick up on subtleties of my emotional response to the clip that might be different than my response to the source material.

It’s hard to be objective in judging how much of the difference in reaction is simply due to it being a remake of scenes that I’ve seen in their original context versus the impact of seeing them specifically with female actors instead of guys. Maybe gender really is only one minor factor in the scenes feeling different and the disconcerting sense you get watching the clips is just about different actors (without regard to gender), differences in production value, tone of performance, etc.

I was most struck by the clip of The Town; for some reason the cursing in that scene stood out way more for me in the reshoot than it did in the original, which I guess speaks to my Southern Catholic upbringing around how ladies are “supposed” to talk … even though I’ve been known to curse like a sailor.

The physical fighting in both the Fight Club and The Town clips felt more jarring to me as well — as did the bloody nose in Star Trek — because girls were involved. Or at least, those things caught my attention in a different way, which I guess, I don’t know … makes me … genderist? Or maybe just a victim of my societal indoctrination in the expected gender-specific behaviors of guys and chicks.

I’m not sure, even after reading the “About” page of the site, whether the trio behind the site — Ashleigh Harrington, Cat McCormick, and Jeff Hammond — intend an academic angle with what they’re doing here, but really their intent matters little. The interaction of audience with their project certainly has the potential to generate some interesting (yes, interesting) conversation around gender and Hollywood. Fascinating stuff, and gave me something to think about.

As an aside: Take a look at the clip below. This is from the Oxford Film Festival awards in 2009. It’s a short remake of the diner scene from Pulp Fiction … but with little kids instead of adults:

Okay, now. Putting aside, if you will, the relative qualities of filmmaking — because really, the clips on The Girls On Film are pretty well shot — it’s also disconcerting to see the Pulp Fiction diner scene re-enacted by little kids, right? I remember when they played this at Oxford, we were all kind of shocked because we weren’t expecting it. But we laughed our asses off, I guess because we are bad people. And because it’s funny to see little kids sort-of curse.

Then again, I made my 9YO daughter a Hit Girl costume for Aki-Con last November (my husband went as Kick-Ass), so I guess for some people I already fall under the heading of “questionable parenting.” So you should maybe take that with the proverbial grain of salt.

PS There was a pretty smart write-up on The Girls on Film by Mathilda Gregory on The Guardian’s website a while back. If gender topics are your thing, you should check it out.

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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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