Friday, April 29, 2016

Family Friday: Take your "MEternity Leave" and Shove It

I really should delete Facebook off my phone. I do once in a while simply to refocus on what's REALLY important- my family. But because I generate a fair amount of work from the social hell-hole that is Facebook. I added it back recently. What a day to add it back.

Hey look, a selfish prat. 

Yesterday, some 38 year old magazine editor has declared to the world that she deserves "MEternity leave"- which is selfish person speak for "me time" in a vain attempt to equate it to motherhood. Her logic behind this is that she was "envious when parents on staff left the office at 6 p.m. to tend to their children, while it was assumed co-workers without kids would stay behind to pick up the slack."

What. The Holy. F?

First of all, your co-workers do not leave you to pick up the slack. You, according to your own bio on your own website, you were a SENIOR EDITOR. I'm not sure if you read your job description in its entirety, but I would bet the words "responsibility" and "X hours a week" were included. 

Cry me a river.

If you really need "MEternity", take your little sabbatical. The modern word for this is "vacation".  I'm sure that since you are such a put upon person in your high stress job, your boss would be happy for you to do so. I bet your place of business has another set of words for it though: personal time off, more commonly referred to as PTO. If you're very lucky, your industry offers these things. Most do not. 

Me, recovering from my surgery in our tiny one bedroom
while the alien dog watches over me.
There is a disconnect between folks who have children and those who don't. Neither is wrong, each person has made life choices that suit their own personal mantra and needs. I applaud people who haven't had children, and I applaud people who have. 

The disconnect, however, needs to be cleared up a bit. Childbirth is probably only comparable to someone who has undergone major traumatic surgery. Maternity leave can only compare to someone that experiences a long painful recovery time from that surgery. I speak from experience because I had a major surgery a year before my daughter was born.  It that took me nearly 4 months to fully recover from the surgery and do things like walk without assistance. The tendon's in my hip still pop from it. 

"Maternity leave" is not "me time".  The purpose of maternity leave is so that the mother can both recover from delivery and bond with their new child- a thing that numerous doctors and scientific studies have said is critical for early childhood development. Keep in mind that the adorable bundle of joy is supposed to grow into a responsible citizen one day who contributes to society and takes their garbage out. These benign every day adult tasks are set up in child hood, and have nothing to do with a parent taking "me time".

Day 1: take the kiddo home.
Let's establish what exactly happens during maternity leave for the average woman- IF you're lucky enough to HAVE maternity leave because we live in American damn it! You take care of yourself! Just look at how it's changed from when our parents had maternity leave and how it looks now.

I was lucky enough to have maternity leave. Boy did I need EVERY minute of it.

You go through delivery. This can take as little as a few hours if you're lucky. If you're like me, it takes 18 hours of the most painful pushing you've ever experienced in your life. If you're like my friend in Arizona, it's a scheduled C section that is several hours of surgery followed by several DAYS in the hospital for recovery- before you ever get to be a "mom". If you're like my daughters God mama, it takes over 30 hours that ends in an emergency C-Section because of complications. Then add the extra days in the hospital for recovery. Then go home and "be a mom."

Now you're home, where the real fun begins. Every 2-4 hours that tiny precious human has a need. This need ranges from being fed, to being cleaned, to being consoled, to what ever they might need. Nine times out of ten- because they don't speak real words yet- you get to GUESS what they need. If you're lucky, you get enough time with them to start to understand their signs and get a little better at guessing.

All of this is subjective to a child who is born with absolutely no complications.

That was not my experience.

I have written extensively on what it's like to spend your maternity leave in tears because your child has special needs, and no matter how much help you have from friends and family, at the end of the day it's still you. Their medical needs, combined with their infant needs means that what would normally be a small respite of "me time" is now transformed into preparing for medical needs- in addition to all the little other things they need.

Phew! We made it. We made a baby and got through our maternity leave! Now we can get back to the day job. Forget that 62% of workers report that their company does not offer maternity leave at all. Welcome back to the real world you slacker!

So when you, in your high paid job- you have the audacity to claim you "deserve" MEternity leave, you can seriously get in line. Get in line behind the thousands of woman in this country every year who get NOTHING, but are still expected to show up while taking care of their child. Get in line behind the stay at home mom who has three kids and does everything from house cleaning to teaching to cooking. She could really use a little MEternity leave, a lot more than you.

Don't give me that crap about "well she chose to have a child" because you chose not to. Again, neither choice is wrong, but you want special treatment because you're a unique selfish snowflake who wants to "shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs." 


Maternity leave is not about shifting your focus, revitalizing your strength or finding your inner voice. 

Maternity leave is about taking care of another human life. 

It is most certainly not about ME time.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Movie Monday: The Art of Falling

I started this blog last week, and the page is still blank. So whatever I thought I was going to write, well obviously that didn't happen.

So today, what does that mean? The Art of Falling.

In my world, the best artists are the ones who face fear and step forward. Sometimes it means you soar to new heights. Sometimes you fall flat. On your face. I know I did, very recently and in a very big way. I had this vision for what could be accomplished if we gathered a million people together to give just $1. The concept was presented to my entire team and we asked them for feedback. I told them that the risk was very real that we might just fail. They said game on.

What is interesting to me is that the moment the last second ticked by, my team said "What's next?" It was a surreal feeling to have. We knew that what we had been working on hadn't worked the way we expected. But rather than throwing in the towel, the team came together and began formulating what was the next course of action. We're still figuring it out a bit as we go. But we have a plan. I'll tell you how it goes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Movie Monday: Just Say No to Whitewashing

Me in the short form western I wrote.
Ok, I get that it's Tuesday but I was filming yesterday so there you go. Here it is, this weeks Movie Monday!

I think I need to preface this by stating two things. One: I'm a ginger-glow-in-the-dark white girl. I write screenplays, sometimes with myself in mind because they are roles I want to play. It is the only role I write with a particular race in mind because, as mentioned before, I glow in the dark. Two, I strive for diversity in my films as much as humanly possible. As I've grown as a writer and producer, I make a point of seeking actors I may not know at first to fill every role. I write full back stories for even the most minor of roles and honor the heritage of whomever we cast- don't believe me look at this cast I've assembled for my next feature. 

That's said, here we go.

There are some people who believe that a great actor can play any role. I disagree. A gifted actor can play any role...except when the character's race or gender is explicit to who they are. Audiences would not accept a white actor playing Martin Luther King Jr.- a stage production recently learned that the hard way. Nor would they accept a person of color playing Abraham Lincoln or Princess Diana.

While these are historical figures, the problem remains when a popular work of literature- let's say Ghost in the Shell- is a Japanese story but being made by an American studio. By casting a different race, you ignore the history behind the character that defines them.

So, let's talk about the whitewashing that is Hollywood. We all know who the big culprit is. The studios, for whatever reason- Freddy Wong has a good guess- decide that they need a star to fill their title role. They don't do a simple Google search to find a few of the zillion results for "Top 40 Asian Actresses" or anything like that. That's too hard. Let's cast someone "recognizable" which is studio code for white... also, Max Landis can bite me. 

Forget for a moment that a fan favorite like Ghost in the Shell is even being made in the first place BECAUSE of the fan following. That is to say the bankable reason it will make money is because of the fans it already has- fans who love and understand that it is a Japanese story. And the studio KNEW that, because they did this horrible thing.

We know this sin, because we've seen it time and time again. We can get angry and rant about the studios all we want. Yet they still sit comfortably behind iron gates in ivory towers, laughing at us while they count their money. You're still all going to see the movie so they don't care if you're pissed about casting.

So let's talk about someone who CAN be held account for it. Someone who CAN tell the studios this is wrong.

The actors.

The actor has a responsibility to themselves and to the fans to ask the question "am I right for this role"? Because that is the way this stops. That is the only way the studios figure out that there are talented actors of all colors and shapes and ages. When the actors they approach to play beloved roles say, sorry I don't think that I'm right for this role.

I get it, I do. The studio offered you $10 million to take the role. That would be hard to pass up. Except you're an actor, a pretty good one at that. You likely got into acting for the craft or fun of it. Because lord knows most actors never make the kind of money being offered here. Most actors decided to get into acting because they enjoy the art of telling a good story through crafting a character that is so real your audience forgets the actor and believes.

So if you're taking the $10million it's not for the art of it. You're in it for the money which is fine. But don't lie to the fans- or yourself- and tell us it's because the role was so special for you. If that were true, Scarlett, you would have politely told the studios something like this:

 "I'm honored you would think of me, but I really feel Koyuki Kato or Keiko Kitagawa would be better suited for this role- they are Japanese after all. Hey, Keiko was in Fast and the Furious, I'm sure your marketing team could use that. Or event better, what about Rinko Kikuchi? She was in Pacific Rim and did an amazing job! But if you really need a "face" Americans will recognize- though I should mention she's Chinese, not Japanese- Ziyi Zhang would be great! Remember her in Memoirs of a Geisha? We totally did this cross casting an Asian actress for a face Americans knew thing before. Call her up!"
Seriously, ANY of these fabulous women would have been a better choice.

But until you do that actors, I'm calling you out Scarlett. You should have said no to the role. You too Emma Stone. Please do not try to explain it (Cameron Crowe). If you have to justify it, you have to ask yourself why you went with that casting in the first place. Don't think I forgot you Tilda. Or you Gerard Butler and NikolaESPECIALLY you Johnny Depp, I don't care how much "native" blood you have. You're on my list. There are too few studio films- and even fewer quality roles- that go to minorities, particularly Asian or Native actors.

You do the whole industry a disservice by taking roles that were NOT meant for you.

Studios don't tell me you can't find one because you didn't look hard enough. It took me 5 minutes to compile my list. Five. Minutes.

Actors it's your turn. Stand up for your fellow actors. Say no to whitewashing.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Movie Monday: In Those We Trust

A few years ago I made a short film, a steampunk western that was just about 10 minutes long. Lots of people asked if I'd be turning it into a feature, but I didn't have the resources so I kept putting it off. I finally got the script finished early last year, and I had it read at SIFF. 
SIFF reading with some rad talent!

All the Firefly fans in the room promptly lost their minds. (Don't judge, I somehow had not seen Firefly until they told me that my work reminded them of that. I'm now obsessed and lamenting Fox Studio's foolishness with the rest of you.)

But after all that work, I sort of lost the wind in my sails. Then, last summer, my younger brother died suddenly in a motorcycle accident. 

He was only 28 years old.

I made a vow to not wait anymore.

Jared surprising me with a speech at my wedding.
So I'm making a feature length Steampunk film. It has horses, a steam train, and even pirate ships. My producing partners somehow managed to lock all of those in already. Now, we just need YOU. People who know and love film. Who understand the adventure, and the endless possibilities built in that world. 

Check out what I'm doing here.  There is an incredibly diver team of all walks, races, genders and faiths. I would love for you to join us. We need YOUR help sharing it, growing our fan base and building this film from the ground up.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Family Friday: Breathing Room

Ok. I'm a filmmaker, and a mom. That means I talk about both, a lot. I'm excited by film, but the joy of time spent with my family is invaluable to me. I decided recently to try something new. Movie Mondays, Family Friday. I'll write a bit about one or the other and share on those days what's going on in our world.

The thing is, Film is how I support my family.  It's not easy, by any means. There are a great many days when I consider throwing in the towel. But then I see these two's smiling faces.

My Husband and I work from home, which a blessing and a whole lot of trouble. It's really hard to tell a three year old "no, I can't dance with you right now" and not feel that pang of guilt for not wanting to play.

But at the same time, she is a constant reminder of what's at stake here.

Recently we launched a campaign to make a movie this summer. That means we're spending even higher than average time on the computer. And it's not my favorite way to spend the day, even for a work at home person.

This past week, it's been unusually warm in Seattle (80 in April?) So we cleaned up the yard, and have been out in the sun every day, playing in the yard or letting her play while trying to be engaged on portable devices. But sometimes, you just have to put the Mac Book down and engage in reality.

So yeah, there are HUGE risks being taken, and a lot on the line for a film that means a lot to our family- in more ways than one. But today, we're engaging in Family. Taking time for us. Peace out for a bit.

See you again Monday.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Movie Monday: Mother's Love

People often look at a filmmakers life and say “You live such an exciting life.” I smile and say thank you. Even today, as I write this, I am in my pajamas and robe- I guess it’s entirely possible that it sounds like I live a cush life.  But the reason I am in my pajamas and robe is because last night I had a fever, and this morning I can’t seem to keep warm. I’m sick as can be, yet here I am. Writing away.

Thing is, you never see the work behind the gate.  The late nights, the tears because a project isn’t going the way you want, a client is maddeningly stubborn without any comprehension of what their asking you to do (or the cost of it.).  I’ve bled for my art more than once, literally and figuratively. I wear my war wounds proudly though. Because as the fabulous TedTalks speak Mel Robins likes to say: I have survived all of my worst days.

We had planned to share one heart felt short film with you today. A fellow filmmaker told us it was the most “Seattle” film we’ve ever done. I think he meant dark, but I like to think it has a lot of heart. It’s a domestic violence film based on real events. We didn’t want it to be just another indie film about violence and abuse. We wanted it to ask a question: Why do we blame the victim? It’s a conversation starter. We don’t have the answer. But we do have hope.

I am pleased to share today's Movie Monday with you.