I’ve always been a director. When I’d play pretend with my friends I’d direct who was doing what and how it was going to play out, usually involving races and me winning. It carried over into high school and I made my directorial debut when we were assigned to create a short play for the class and my group decided to film it instead.
I still dream of making a feature film that will leave an impact on people. That will make people think and raise awareness of life and how messy it is, but good. I like to have hope at the end of a story, no matter what happens.
Since I’ve always liked directing I’ve been looking for more women directors to watch and learn from. I find women can hold their own on blockbusters, but there’s something entirely different in their films, especially independent ones, that just can’t be labelled.
So here are some of the ones I’ve found that have made films that have something to say and are an encouragement to us all for what we can achieve.
Ava DuVernay made herself known to the world in 2012 with her third feature film Selma. Selma was about Martin Luther King’s campaign for equal rights and it covered his march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. It was nominated for 2 Academy Awards, Best Picture and Best Original Song. It won for the song.
Ava is not just a director; she’s a writer, she’s worked in marketing for films, and produced films and tv shows.
I truly believe this woman is going to be a powerhouse woman in the film industry for years to come. Her talent and ability to create films do more than just give us some time to sit in a theatre and turn our brains off. I believe she gives us films to inspire us to step up and stand up.
In her first feature film I Will Follow the lead character, May, must pack up the house where she’d been living with her dying aunt for the past year. The film takes place over the course of the one day and she has to deal with strangers, family, friends, and relationships with the opposite sex while dealing with her grief. I found May’s journey to be inspirational. She obviously doesn’t have it all figured out at the end as it is a never ending process, but she found the strength to move forward after giving up her life for a year.
In 2018 her next feature film, A Wrinkle In Time, will be released. Growing up it was one of my favourite stories. The lead character Meg doesn’t feel like she fits in with her family and at school. During the adventures in the story she finds herself and her strength.
Ava DuVernay is a director I aspire to be like, making films that can help change the world and help people grow and look inside themselves.
Ana Lily Amirpour
Ana Lily Amirpour currently only has one film out, A Gild Walks Home Alone at Night, a brooding drama that was classified as a horror. In reality there wasn’t as much horror as I expected. Sure the main female character is a vampire, but there really wasn’t that much blood.
It was in black and white and the spoken language was Persian, it was filmed in California, which set the desert and oilfield tone quite well.
I fell in love with the film instantly. The long sweeping shots, the lighting. It looked like a film noir. I wouldn’t say it’s a happy movie, but it isn’t depressing either.
One of the things Ana is passionate about is practical effects over digital. All I could think was, “A woman after my own heart.” Practical effects, in my opinion, are something I love too more than digital. Don’t get me wrong digital is great when needed, but having it when it isn’t needed because it’s easier to shoot quicker doesn’t always work the best.
Amirpour’s second film, The Bad Batch, is a post apocalyptic survival story and is due for wide release in early 2017. I know her content is not for everyone, she tends to lean to horror, but there is no denying the woman has a gift for filmmaking. She writes and directs her own films. She explores loneliness and human relationships in different and interesting ways, and how people survive their circumstances.
Her choices of shots and use of editing are stunning. Her films cinematography has interesting angles and composition that catches the eye and keeps your attention. She does not waste space in her composition of shots. One thing I noticed she does well is have something going on in the foreground on a long take/shot and then brings something or someone into the background towards the character in the foreground.
It’s exciting to see more women take on directing. I hope to see more in the future.