Screenwriting: When Women Call the Shots: An Interview with Linda Seger
March 11th, 2004
by Rita Cook
When Women Call The Shots is the latest book written by script consultant Linda Seger. Seger, who has written several other popular books, Making a Good Script Great and Creating Unforgettable Characters saw the potential
to make something change in the industry and decided this book was one of the tools that could do it. I ask her what made her stray away from writing the same genre of book that she had in the past and she told me, "Because this book has the potential to push things further in a positive way." Seger became interested in the women's movement in 1975, When Women Call The Shots seems to be a culmination of all that she has learned, combined with her belief that the books' subject matter is an area that needs to be dealt with and hasn't been dealt with yet.
Circling the globe to interview women for When Women Call The Shots, Seger spoke with women from the Middle East, The Phillipines, China, Europe and Mexico. She found that women everywhere seem to have the same problems to deal with, only on different levels since the cultures are different. "The women in Australia, New Zealand and Canada seem to be doing the best for women," she told me. Questioning this, Seger pointed out that in Australia the women's movement and the film industry blossomed at the same time. With women in the position to call the shots they took full advantage of it and rose to the occasion, giving themselves a name and a powerful profession. When Women Call The Shots is 75 percent focused on Hollywood and 25% focused on the rest of the world. The book is divided into six sections discussing the history of women in film, how women influence the business, what women can bring to the storytelling process, how they create characters, sex, love and romance and finally, a social and global perspective.
Seger pointed out how women do make a difference in filmmaking by citing Jane Campion, who wrote, produced and directed The Piano. This movie could not have (and probably would not have) been done by a man. Campion brought a sort of errotisism to it that only a woman could bring, remember the scene about the hole in the stocking?
Women have been in the industry for many years, virtually dominating it in the 1920s and then moving behind the scenes in the 1930s and 40s to develop female characters in movies written by men.
Presently the tide does seem to be shifting though, as it is noted that 80% of the new businesses in Los Angeles alone, are women owned. Seger says "The way women do business is different than men.... Corporations didn't want us, and women didn't want the corporations."
And with the onset of more women in the industry, certain situations will arise which will be handled in a way that will set the tone for years to come. For instance, women in the industry who are also mothers. Daycares are becoming more common at studios and children being brought to sets is becoming the norm. Another positive boost in relation to womens' involvement is that men are becoming more aware. "Men's consciousness is being raised," Seger says, "Men are becoming sensitive to their own children." Women have been sensitive to this all along, since they didn't have any other alternative.