Published on April 4th, 2013 | by Elizabeth Coleman1
LADYPOINTS filmmakers inspire a cultural revolution
Sometimes the simple act of stating a dream can spark a revolution. After a high school girl casually mentioned to filmmaker Jamie Li that she wanted to be a photographer, an idea began to form: how could Li give women access to resources and information to pursue their passions? Inspired herself by Amy Poehler’s webseries Smart Girls at the Party, fellow filmmaker Keiko Wright came up with the idea for a webseries that interviews women about the work they do and how they got there. LADYPOINTS was born.
LADYPOINTS is a webseries that showcases and celebrates successful women. By presenting the stories, they hope to encourage women to overcome any self-doubt, fears or intimidation to pursue what they want to do in life. Simply put, these filmmakers want to present how women are doing things differently, without apology, and rocking it.
The team, comprised of four highly creative and passionate New York-based filmmakers, Keiko Wright, Jamie Li, Samantha Knowles and Rekha Shankar, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the webseries. In just five days, the team met their first goal, raising $5,000. Due to the immense support and interest for the show, they have increased their goal to $7,500, which will enable them to shoot a second season of the series and travel outside New York for some of the episodes.
“We know there are women across the entire country who are ‘defining success of their own terms,'” Li said, “and we want to make sure our audience knows that you can live anywhere and make exciting things happen for yourself and your community.”
“While there is no science to getting your dream career, we might as well de-mystify it as much as possible along the way by showing how other people started out,” Shankar added.
So far, the team has shot the pilot episode, featuring actress and writer Nicole Drespel, who is also an improv teacher at New York’s Upright Citizen Brigade.
“We already chose our line up for season one, which we are very excited to be revealing soon,” Li said. “The women we picked really represent what we are going for with LADYPOINTS.”
Each of the team member’s identities as women and women of color has had a huge impact on their filmmaking and storytelling. Their friendship and collaboration through LADYPOINTS is partially fueled by their desire to work out the complicated experiences that come from their social identities.
“LADYPOINTS is a cathartic way for our team to deal with a lot of daily sexism, racism, and oppression we’ve faced on jobs working in the film industry and channel it in a constructive and positive way,” Wright said.
Knowles was drawn to the project because of her experience as an African American woman working in media and her desire to tell marginalized stories.
“When I began making my last film, Why Do You Have Black Dolls?, I wanted to tell a story that had never been told in a documentary and make the statement that black dolls are important for black children,” Knowles said. “In fact, when I was writing proposals to get funding, I often compared it to seeing the Cosby Show on TV as a young African American woman. To this day, I think about how incredibly powerful that show is. Not only does it feel good to be represented, but it also does a lot to empower you to pursue your passions. As I began screening the film at festivals, I had a lot of fantastic conversations with women, especially those of color, about how important this kind of representation is.”
One of the main missions of the webseries is to accurately portray women’s successes. Mainstream media often adheres to one definition of success, often analogous to money, power or fame, skewing society’s perception. A more diverse group of people making the decisions of who and what to portray in the media will produce a more accurate, multifaceted depiction of success. Shankar explains that there is an inaccurate portrayal of women in the media because men have become the “everyperson.”
“We come up with the terms ‘female superhero’ or ‘female detective’ because there is an implied norm of ‘male,'” Shankar said. “Men are also writing for women about women. Some might argue this is fine, as long as these men do their research. But even with all the research in the world, sexism still slips through the cracks because of a lack of knowledge about the female experience.”
“Women need to be the decision-makers and when someone says that something in the media is offensive, it shouldn’t be dismissed as hypersensitivity,” Li added.
The team has a more accurate and holistic view of success that they hope to show the audience in the webseries.
“My definition of success is the ability to pursue your passion, using your own barometer to determine what it means to be successful,” Knowles said.
“Defining success in your own terms means recognizing when the traditional paths to success and the definitions of success don’t fit for you and you choose to do work differently,” Li added. “Success for me has very little to do with money.”
Through storytelling and highlighting various women on LADYPOINTS, the team hopes to create lasting change because a good story has the power to demystify and connect.
“Storytelling has an amazing amount of power and I believe film is a medium that lets you amplify that power,” Wright said. “I see and use film as a tool for social change. I believe through telling marginalized stories on the silver screen you are able to humanize oppression and bring to light stories that people might otherwise dismiss if presented in other mediums like print.”
Indeed, the LADYPOINTS team is guaranteed to cause a butterfly effect by inspiring women to pursue their passions.
“I love the concept of changing the world by being yourself,” Wright said. “That’s one thing we highlight in LADYPOINTS; you don’t need to be the best, you just need to love what you’re doing and be passionate.”
For more information or to donate to the Kickstarter project, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/kwright/ladypoints-the-webseries and ladypoints.tumblr.com.