I consider myself a writer and a director, but in my twenties, acting was my primary discipline. Auditioning was my life. I auditioned for a lot of projects, student films, independent films, and music videos. And I couldn’t help but notice a theme: most of the characters I auditioned for were named “Girlfriend,” “Wife,” or “Mother.” They were nameless women whose relationship to the male lead defined them. The scripts that I was exposed to were mostly written by men. Now, before anyone gets in a huff, I said “most” and “mostly.” I absolutely auditioned for (and was cast in) roles that were complex and meaningful and were written by men. Being a man doesn’t mean that someone can’t write exciting roles for ladies, just like being a woman doesn’t mean that they can’t write great roles for dudes. But I am going to let you in on a little writing secret: most protagonists are versions of the writer’s psyche. Women comprised only 11% of the writers for the top 100 grossing Hollywood films of 2016. The gap isn’t quite as wide in independent films, but my personal experience was that most scripts were penned by men. I always enjoyed the auditions with female writers when I got to go on them. I found myself wishing there were more female writers.
When I began writing, having dynamic and three dimensional female characters was one of my guiding principles. I love writing awesome roles for women. I love when actresses tell me that a role I wrote was fun to play. When Brittany Flurry, Jessica Brooks, and I were writing The Naked Feminist, we had such a great time coming up with the wide variety of ladies who would populate our show. Two-thirds of our speaking roles were women. On my newest project, And Breathe, eighty percent of the speaking roles are female. There are not a lot of characters in my short film, but I love all of them so much.
I have already cast the wonderful Brittany Flurry as Maya. Brittany has an exquisite range and plays vulnerability and strength with grace and power. When she cries, I cry. When she smiles, I smile. Brittany is also a joy to work with; she gives every role her all, is hilarious on set, and takes direction easily.
I am very excited to cast the other roles in the next few weeks.
A short film by Molly McKee