Making the investigative documentary Pioneers in Skirts™ has been a true learning experience for me, to say the least. The film development phase began when I was trying to figure out, soon after graduating with my master's degree, why I was losing my career ambition. I needed to find out why I was experiencing things that my mother, and her mother, experienced.
Since then, and now that we're in the production phase, I've learned a tremendous amount. Supporters, both women and men, have circled their wagons around this social impact film. It's been great.
Learning has gone far beyond the investigation
But it hasn't always been a hand-holding supportive learning experience. Early on my producer and I heard from people who misunderstood the topic, and our intent. Some thought we were making a film about older women who did great things. Some felt this was a "women against men" film. Or, "just another film about whining women complaining about how life is treating them." We had complaints about the films name, "why do you have to use the term, 'skirts' to represent women? Women can wear pants too!"
Oh, and my favorite, "You're trying to make a documentary about how to Lean In." (The answer is No, by the way.)
Even though the film has never changed it's meaning or it's approach, these inaccurate perceptions have caused us to work real hard at getting our messaging just right.
Pioneers in Skirts Logline: Dreaming big led to an impressive start to her career, but when this young filmmaker experiences her confidence and ambition slowly chipping away, she sets out on a personal journey to find out why careers are much more complicated and difficult when a woman tries to have one.
And when it became clear that not only were some people just not getting it, I couldn't help but wonder if people reading (and denying) our film grants were thinking the same wrong thing!
Something had to be done
We decided to find ways for people to better understand what we're doing. As the film was in production, my producer and I started to speak publicly about the obstacles that women face - and what solutions we've learned. We sought out interviews with the media, wrote blog posts and LinkedIn articles, and started to release behind-the-scenes footage for people to see for themselves.
Some of the footage we share include lessons for women trying to make it in their careers today. Some help to bring our story to life by introducing the people we interview. And other footage -- well, I needed people to get to know me better too, so I decided to speak and share my thoughts on camera.
Sharing footage in advance of a films' release can be a challenging effort. Not only does it take a tremendous amount of time and effort that we'd prefer to put into the making of the film, it's a big risk. What if we share so much that we no longer have a fresh story to tell? Well, we're doing it -- and not only for those who just don't get it, but for the many women and men who are looking forward to this films' premiere!
You can check out some behind-the-scenes video at the Pioneers in Skirts bonus video page. Here we've thrown in a few videos to give people a flavor for the film, but you can see even more on our Pioneers in Skirts vimeo page - if you want.
Here's an example: Behind the Scenes: Colorado – 2:04 min
Do you get it? Click through to watch a few more -- they're not long, super easy to watch. Do you get that these "obstacles" and "setbacks" aren't your typical career-newcomer things?
My producer and I are trying to help women, and men -- and me, and young women who are coming behind me...and their parents.
Do you see that we're trying to advance a conversation that's been treading water much more than it's been advancing?
I hope so!
The film will, but it's not ready yet.
Finishing the film
Pioneers in Skirts depends on individuals, foundations and businesses to help with funding. The success of a recent Kickstarter campaign will allow us to finish production of the film, and transition into the post-production stage.
But we’re not there yet! We need sponsors and people to donate to the film. Supporters who provide funding and in-kind donations are not only our heroes, they get their name in the credits of the film, and depending on the level of support, they may get their own title page!