The female identity in the film industry


Kyle R. Schmidt

Jen McGowan talks about her 2014 film “Kelly and Cal.” McGowan is one of the few female directors working today.

Kyle Schmidt, Staff Writer

Like a noble and enjoyable romantic comedy, a female filmmaker is hard to come by. Jen McGowan, director of the 2014 film “Kelly and Cal,” discussed the added responsibility a woman is forced to carry in the film industry in an interview and audience participated Q&A at the Petaluma Cinema Series Feb. 18.

“There is nothing about the role that is inherently gendered,” McGowans said, “However, and you’ll see this in the film; everyone’s experience is personal, and when you make a certain piece of work you can only express yourself.”

Michael Traina, director of the Petaluma Film Alliance and instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, hosted the event and conducted the interview with McGowan, asking questions about her introduction to filmmaking and whether being a woman alters the filmmaking process.

McGowan, who is among the 10 percent of women filmmakers, said there are no differences in the feminine viewpoint in film compared to movies created by men. Until “Kelly and Cal” was released, people hadn’t realized she was in fact a woman.

“Kelly and Cal” follows the life of Kelly, played by Juliette Lewis, stuck in life and uncertain who she wants to be. As a new mother, she must learn to leave her punk-rocker past behind and find a future with her husband. After she meets a young man named Cal, played by Jonny Weston, her life takes a turn for the worse as their romantic chemistry and friendship grows. The dramatic comedy is filled with pure emotion as it hits deep matters such as finding yourself and your own identity.

“For me, this film is about identity,” McGowan said. “And it’s so funny because I didn’t pay attention to being a woman filmmaker until people started asking me and one of things that that means is: ‘What am I going to say?’ and ‘How am I going to say it?’”

Overall, McGowan reflected that women filmmakers must be cautious in their decisions and creations since everyone is watching them. Filmmaking is an extremely male dominated occupation that desires gender equality. Women in history have been suppressed of many rights and opportunities.