Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“You’ll have to make a rom-com”: These talking thumbs perfectly sum up life as a female filmmaker

thumbs.JPG

It’s not easy being a female film director in Britain. That’s not us being melodramatic: it’s a fact. Recent research by Directors UK found that fewer than 12 per cent of British films are directed by women. Female directors rarely get the chance to direct big-budget feature films or action, crime, horror or sci-fi movies, and overall, women make fewer films in their careers.

This imbalance can be partly attributed to the pervasive stereotype of the director as male artiste. While men are seen as being able to turn their hand to any genre of cinema, female directors often find themselves stereotyped as “just” making “women’s films”.

And the knock-on effect of this lack of representation is pretty depressing. With a dearth of high-profile women behind the camera to aspire to, other women are discouraged from entering the industry. As a result, those women who are working as directors can find themselves pigeonholed even more.

Now, with the help of two talking thumbs, award-winning British director Rachel Tunnard has brilliantly satirised the experience of being a woman who’s just trying to get a bloody film made. 

In the four-minute clip, titled You'll never get anywhere if you can't take a joke, love, a ‘female’ thumb tells a ‘male’ thumb that she’s thinking of making a film.

“There isn’t an audience for female films”, the man thumb promptly replies – unless she counts “your mum, your nan [and] your ex-boyfriends who are basically trying to ascertain if they were correct in dumping you”. If she really wants to make a movie, he informs her, it’ll have to be a rom-com. “With lots of kissing in it. Cos girls love kissing.”

Much of Tunnard’s script mocks the sexist attitudes of people working within the film industry. The man thumb can’t bring himself to say the words “Bechdel test”, and muses that “there’s just so much more to consider when you’ve got female crew. Like all the time you’ll lose because women are always stopping the take going, ‘Cut, cut! I need the loo! Who wants to come with me?’”

But she also skewers the limitations of the stock female characters found in Hollywood movies. “Basically, you need to decide if you’re cute-sexy or ballsy-sexy,” says the man thumb sagely. “Are you gonna be self-aware and make jokes about the fact that you can’t get a man? Or are you gonna pretend that you’re too whimsical to notice that you don’t need one?”

rachel tunnard

Rachel Tunnard speaks at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, where her film Adult Life Skills won the Nora Ephron Prize. Image: Getty

Rachel Tunnard’s debut film, Adult Life Skills, tells the story of a 29-year-old woman (Broadchurch's Jodie Whittaker) who moves back home and spends her time making short videos in her mum’s garden shed (featuring her thumbs). It won the prestigious Nora Ephron Prize at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and has scored rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. 

“I made the thumb video because I’m getting asked about being a female filmmaker a lot,” Tunnard tells Stylist. “It’s really difficult, because you can’t talk about [sexism] without appearing as though you’re really negative or you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, or something like that. In truth, the best way to tackle it is just to find a way to laugh about it – and then conceive another way to get what you want.”

Adult Life Skills is screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, ahead of nationwide release on June 24th. 


Related

Main_rt.jpg

Stylist talks work and ambition with Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker

Still-from-Suffragette-20-009.jpg

Revealed: the shocking extent of gender inequality in UK film industry

GettyImages-83627323.jpg

Victoria Wood: the first woman of funny

MERYL TRUMP 2.jpg

Meryl Streep impersonating Donald Trump is the best thing we've seen

lupita oscars.jpg

The most memorable Oscar speeches of all time

500303854.jpg

UK television guilty of ‘ingrained, low-level sexism’

rexfeatures_424394bw.jpg

“Stop saying Bond 'girls' - we're women”

RED CARPET REBELS.jpg

Red carpet rebels: the women making their own formal dress codes

carol.JPG

The best female-led films at the BFI London Film Festival

More

The best possible gifts for when flowers aren’t going to cut it

17 unusual and thoughtful gifts for when the s**t hits the fan

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This Battle of the Sexes legend wants you to STOP asking about McEnroe

“I would like to see John McEnroe win a Grand Slam tournament while pregnant”

by Susan Devaney
22 Sep 2017

“The real reason we should all be upset about Uber”

Grow up: your bank balance really isn’t what’s at stake here

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Sep 2017

There's a huge sherbet fountain coming to London - and it's free

Bompas & Parr are planning a weird, wonderful and nostalgia-filled event

by Helen Brown
22 Sep 2017

Rick and Morty creator responds to sexist trolling of female writers

The show hired four women. Cue cries of “Worst. Episodes. Evah.”

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

Everything you need to know about Uber being banned in London

The taxi firm has had its license revoked by TfL

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

The new Baileys flavour you’ll want to drink well beyond Halloween

Perfect autumn cocktails ahead

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This unexpected town has been voted the best place to work in the UK

We didn’t see this one coming

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

Harry Potter fans, this epic Hogwarts goblet is actually magical

It's perfect for Butterbeer (or prosecco)

by Megan Murray
22 Sep 2017

The hidden meanings behind the nation’s most popular baby names

Prepare for lots of girls’ names ending in ‘a’

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017