Join SBIFF for an in-depth discussion in this video Special challenges, part of 2010 SBIFF Women's Panel: Creative Women in the Business.
(Music playing.) Madelyn Hammond: So, Joan there are some not so great statistics out about there is fewer women directors and editors this year than last year. It seems like there is sort of downward spiral which makes me unhappy. It seems like the writers are maintaining but. Talk to us about this. Is there something going on? Do we need to mentor more? Is it that girls just don't feel like this is an avenue that they could take? Joan Sobel: Well, I definitely think we need to mentor more, but it's really and especially with editing, I think it's really difficult because the technology has changed and before when you would be editing on film, your assistants would be in the room with you and they'd really learn about editing.
That doesn't happen anymore, which is really sad, with Avid and Final Cut. Now even with Final Cut, people are cutting at home. I think it's really difficult to break in and to really learn the craft. I think it's sad that there is no real apprenticeship anymore. Because we really did learn the craft that way and I think in many it shows. But as far as women it's just-- it hasn't changed that much, which is very sad.
I wish it was. I mean at least there is one woman now up for best director. (Applause.) And a wonderful movie she did. I think Hurt Locker is a fantastic film, but it's just so difficult and it's frustrating. I think it's frustrating also in editing, because in many ways editing used to, be way back when movies started, it used to be a field that was relegated to women.
It was considered like sewing or something. Then things changed, it became prestigious and as soon as there was a width of prestige attached to it, then men moved in and the women went out. Actually it's interesting because one of the women who I think is one of-- not even that she is a woman, but who's the greatest editor is Dede Allen who you mentioned before. It's kind of interesting, because when Dede Allen cut Bonnie & Clyde, it sort of changed the face of the editing. In the United States, anyway.
As soon as that happen I think a lot more man went into it and it's sad. It's like a woman led the way, but the door is closed. Madelyn Hammond: Well, Kathryn Bigelow, similarly because the film that she directed that she is nominated for it, isn't a typical woman, woman type thing. Joan Sobel: No. Madelyn Hammond: So it's kind of interesting. So may be it will open up more doors. Although, I am pleased to say that for those who follow the box office that a chick flick, the ultimate chick-flick, Dear John, was the film that unseated Avatar after seven weeks, the largest grossing film of all times.
So there is a lot of power in women in terms of going to the movies. So I wanted to, I am going to ask -- I am going to open this up to anybody, but I am going start with Bonnie. Bonnie, has there ever been a time, and you have been in the business for a long time, but has there ever been a time that you are just like, sometimes I feel like I am going to be found out to be the imposter I am, like how did I get this, what am I doing? (Murmured agreement.) There is book that I thought was phenomenal called the Imposter Phenomenon and it's very prevalent amongst women.
So I want to open this and see if anybody feel sometime like gosh, I just hope that I can continue to do the job I do and keep under the radar. Bonnie Arnold: I mean I say this with all modesty, but I don't feel like I am an imposter at all. I feel like I worked my ass off to get where I am now. (Laughter and applause.) But I do feel that I had an incredible amount of good luck, but I think you also have to make your luck, because you have to be ready to take advantage of every opportunity.
I've been very fortunate enough just in that I am not living on any kind of trust fund or anything like that and I wasn't sleeping with anyone in the business or whatever, but I worked really hard. I was willing to do just about anything and I think, like I say this is in all modesty, I always wanted to work in the film business. I think again it's just about taking advantage of these opportunities and being willing to take certain risks, calculated risks, whether it would be financial or otherwise for a little money.
I feel like, I never took a job, because of the money, I just didn't. But then I was fortunate enough to be able to have a very supportive husband who played that game with me a bit in terms of going on locations for a long amount of time or taking something that I thought was going to get me to the next job or what next, you know position wise. Madelyn Hammond: Now that's interesting because you have a supporting husband and I met Sarah's husband Gary, is that both of them have to realize that this not just a hobby, this is what you do and they have to kind of step up and they do, right.
Bonnie Arnold: Right. Well, I think it's like, I think my husband at least realized I was really passionate about what that thing I wanted to do and I have one daughter. He really helped me with her and support her and be around for her when the things came up. Also I think, I will tell you what he is really good about, I wish he was here to hear this, but he always gave the man's perspective on things, because the film business is very much, a very, very especially as I was coming up through the film business and I have been working in the film business for almost 30 years now.
It's gotten better, a lot more women and stuff, but it was really a man's world and he would always come in and we would talk and he would say, "you know what a guy do, they would blah, blah, blah" and I go, oh! And I never though that, because I don't think that way. I am a woman. So that was actually quite-- he was my coach and gave me really great advice about doing to that world. Amanda Pope: My husband is the complete opposite. He does not want to talk, he does not want to. He literally at every event, it's like I am not saying word, but he is an amazing supporter and I think that when we ventured into the movies.
He did not expect to be where we are now, obviously in the Oscar race. I am not sure he doesn't resent it a little. But it's hard. I mean this sounds funny, but there is lot of expectations out there when you get into something not totally knowing if it's exactly what you want to do and then finding out that your wife is in love with the business and then and all the exposure and all of that. It can be hard on a relationship. I mean it was hard working with him on this film, because we had to deal with a lot of issues on Precious, but ultimately I think it's great to be able to work with your family if you can or have a husband that supports what you are doing.
Madelyn Hammond: What about you guys? Did you ever have those feelings where you are gripped with like oh, my God? Rachel Tenner: Oh my God, l feel that way every time I start a project. I have at least three days prior to project where I am like I have no idea what I am doing. I have never done it. It's almost like I have never done it before. I am starting a new movie now and I needed get together like a list of British actors, female actors, and I was like, well, they don't exist. I was just like, well, I can't think of a single one and then I was like I don't know what I am doing. It's just like two days of that and all of a sudden I was just-- then it just leaves and then I start and everything clicks and obviously.
But I think sometimes that neurosis like actually gets me to work a little bit harder and really stay super-focused. But it did hear the story that Meryl Streep like every movie she does a week in to her movie she says "I don't know what I am doing," and like wants to quit every movie. Joan Sobel: She still thinks she doesn't know how to act. Rachel Tenner: Yeah, exactly. She says she doesn't know how to act and everything. Madelyn Hammond: I love that, I love rampant insecurity. Rachel Tenner: Yes, exactly, exactly. Joan Sobel: I think it's interesting though that I never hear men say that. Madelyn Hammond: No, I know.
Joan Sobel: Secretive, only once in a while, very secretive, they'll say "I don't know what I am doing." Rachel Tenner: Oh! You are not hanging out with actors. Joan Sobel: Oh! No that's true. I am in the cutting room. Rachel Tenner: All the actors are like "I am the sh*t." Joan Sobel: But I always feel that way, always feel that way and most women that I speak to always say the same thing like "I don't know." "I have no idea what we are going to do." When I made the switch from, because I was a first assistant editor for a number of years and worked with Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson and I worked with Sally Menke.
When I made the switch, I cut a 40 minute short and I was like I have no idea what I am doing and the 40 minute short ended up winning the Academy Award, but you still have to go, "I don't know how I did that." Erin Cressida Wilson: I am right on board with her. I worked too hard to ever feel this way and I don't, because it was too hard to get here. I mean it was outrageously hard for me. I have spent 20 years in New York theater, which is, if you think it's hard to get in the film business, try to get into the New York Theater, it's practically impossible.
I won't go into that right now, although I have a whole thing on it. But what I want to say is that when you said I, for week and half, I don't know who I am going to cast. And Meryl Streep says I don't know how to act, that's to me, that's part of the creative process, that's part of a blankness that is a gift, that you can go to your beginner's mind and go "I'm blank" and the steps starts to come in in a pure way.
To have that ability and not be like "I know exactly what I am going to do, I am going to do this, I am going to pitch it like this and blah, blah, blah." It's like actually I am going to sit back and it's going to come to me and I am going to make something quite hopefully beautiful. So I think that insecurity can be looked at as a gift. Madelyn Hammond: Yeah, I would think because then the process is much more organic, it just flows in the way that it's supposed to and it's different for each of us. You don't strike me as ever been insecure about anything? Amanda Pope: Oh yeah. Actually I think the margin or the measure of whether you are up to something that's really sufficiently challenging is if you feel that total panic and openness.
I mean that is the measure that you are really challenging yourself. I think to say what I would say is you want to in the same way as you go to Gold's Gym, hopefully to stay in shape or you run here, because it's beautiful. You need to develop your psychic nerve, you need to develop your ability to go and do the most difficult thing in front of you, because it's a more interesting way to live.
Madelyn Hammond: Well put! (Applause.) So before we wrap I am going to ask one question to each of you super fast and we'll start with Erin. Erin, no. There is no notes. Joan Sobel: No notes! Madelyn Hammond: If you could -- who's the one person that you would want to work with for one year if you could work with anybody? Side-by-side who would it be? Erin Cressida Wilson: Scorsese. Madelyn Hammond: Scorsese. Rachel? Rachel Tenner: Oh God, I can't answer.
I think Clint Eastwood. Madelyn Hammond: Clint Eastwood. Joan. Joan Sobel: Dede Allen. Madelyn Hammond: Awww. But you could work, you worked with Dede Allen. Joan Sobel: No, I've never worked with Dede Allen. I worked with Carol Littleton but I never worked with Dede Allen. Madelyn Hammond: Okay, Amanda. Amanda Pope: Well, I'll just like to continue doing more projects with my current partner Tchavdar Georgiev. Madelyn Hammond: Wow! Madelyn Hammond: I mean we love working together. Sarah Siegel: Mine so commercial. Sandra Bullock.
Madelyn Hammond: Bonnie? Bonnie Arnold: Living or dead? Madelyn Hammond: Oh, living. Bonnie Arnold: Oh, because I was going to pick Irving Thalberg. Madelyn Hammond: That would be good. Bonnie Arnold: Yeah. If I could it over, it would be Irving Thalberg's or David O Russell. Madelyn Hammond: But what if they were living? Bonnie Arnold: Living? That's a hard one, but I almost have to pick Scorcese too. I think he is one of the greatest living filmmakers and I'd worked with lots of folks, but I have never worked with him. Madelyn Hammond: I'd pick George Clooney. (Laughter.) Madelyn Hammond: So guys thank you, thanks everybody.