History Forgets Itself: Women’s Film Production Outside the Studio System
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7/15/2018 at 4:51:48 PM GMT
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History Forgets Itself: Women’s Film Production Outside the Studio System

The struggles women have faced in attempting to work within the Hollywood studio system have been the focus of recent scholarship (Erin Hill, for example) and activism (#metoo). These efforts shed light on the pervasive and longstanding exclusion of women, which has kept them from key creative positions in Hollywood. The financially high-stakes world of commercial media production has long been male dominated, so it should perhaps come as no surprise that women have had more opportunities to participate in filmmaking outside of the studio system. However, until fairly recently the lives and work of women who made movies outside of Hollywood has been subject to neglect. 

A new wave of scholars, archivists and preservationists has begun to productively excavate women’s home movie and amateur filmmaking efforts drawing attention to women who pursued their own filmmaking interests. However, this panel looks specifically at women’s professional filmmaking outside of the studio system to further enhance our understanding of women’s labor in media production. These filmmaking efforts often unsettle the binaries of professional/amateur and theatrical/non-theatrical that have characterized scholarship to date.

            Given the limited opportunities for women within the studio system, particularly after the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of women’s participation in the teens and 20s, we must look beyond Hollywood to uncover the careers of women who worked professionally in the film industry. There were many women who made a living working as camera operators, editors, writers, producers, directors, etc., almost all of whose careers were met with a discourse of exceptionalism that positioned each woman as unique and a novelty. This discourse obscures the innumerable other women who worked professionally on industrial and sponsored films, travelogues and travel lectures, expedition films, adventure and nature films, church films, government and educational films, documentaries as well as narrative fictions.

We welcome papers on any aspect of women’s participation in film production outside the studio system that redefines not only what we understand as the film industry, but that work to disrupt received notions of what constitutes a professional filmmaking career.  


Please forward inquiries and paper proposals (200-300 words) and a short bio by August 3rd to:

Liz Czach, University of Alberta, liz.czach@ualberta.ca

Marsha Gordon, North Carolina State University, marsha_gordon@ncsu.edu

Panelists will be notified by Tuesday August 14, 2018.


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Society for Cinema and Media Studies
640 Parrington Oval
Wallace Old Science Hall, Room 300
Norman, OK 73019
(405) 325-8075 scms-office@ou.edu


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