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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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“By the time the draft was completed, and passed on to my frequent collaborator, director Kathryn Bigelow, I’d written something quite unlike the singular focus and sole protagonists of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. The effort to make Detroit a mirror of the chaotic times led to an ensemble piece, quickly shifting between characters in a nesting doll of movies within movies, a riot film that gives way to racial horror-crime that switches to a courtroom drama, with several detours along the way into a band’s journey, the miseducation of rookie cops and the adventures of a pair of young women experimenting with sexual freedom. It was, in short, a lot of ground to cover in a single picture. But Kathryn was encouraging, and over the proceeding draft we collaborated closely to hone the themes and scope, while attempting to keep alive the spirit of a tough and untamed narrative.”
~ Mark Boal on researching and writing Detroit

What are we doing wrong?
“Well, first of all, by “we” I assume you mean the public, the public approach or the public discourse, which means the discourse that takes place in the media. And for the purposes of this discussion, let us imagine that the media is white and thus approaches the topic of race as if they (the white people) were the answer and them (the black people) were the question. And so, in the interest of fairness, they take their turn (having first, of course, given it to themselves) and then invite comment by some different white people and some similar black people. They give what purports to be simply their point of view and then everyone else gives their beside-the-point of view.

“The customary way for white people to think about the topic of race—and it is only a topic to white people—is to ask, How would it be if I were black? But you can’t separate the “I” from being white. The “I” is so informed by the experience of being white that it is its very creation—it is this “I” in this context that is, in fact, the white man’s burden. People who think of themselves as well intentioned—which is, let’s face it, how people think of themselves—believe that the best, most compassionate, most American way to understand another person is to walk a mile in their shoes. And I think that’s conventionally the way this thing is approached. And that’s why the conversation never gets anywhere and that’s why the answers always come back wrong and the situation stays static—and worse than static.”
~ Fran Lebowitz, 1997