by Laura Shamas
What happens when two groups who promote female entertainment writers in Los Angeles get together to start the New Year? On Saturday, January 12, 2013, 2 – 5 p.m. at Samuel French Bookshop in Hollywood, the Bitch Pack and the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative are co-sponsoring a networking mixer for women writers who work in film, television and stage. The event is free and open to all.
The Bitch Pack is a group of active female and male entertainment writers who have joined forces in order to foster more work that passes the Bechdel Test, and to ensure that diverse women’s voices are represented in television and film. Their goal: “Changing Women’s Representation on Screen, Starting with the Written Page.” They look for screenplays that pass the Bechdel Test, and feature these on “The Bitch List,” which stands for “Brilliant, Intriguing, Creative, Tenacious Heroines.” One of their ongoing projects includes an Award they give at Shriekfest for a horror screenplay that passes the Bechdel Test. Their mentors include: Carole Dean, Bob Engels, Ari Posner, Dan Vining, Terry George and Susan Cartsonis. They are also affiliated with Pop Change.
The Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative is comprised of female and male theatre writers working toward fair representation of women playwrights on stage. LA FPI projects include a 2011 study of women playwrights produced in the SoCal area, which concluded that only about 20% of plays produced locally are female-authored and “Tactical Reads,” a partnership with The Vagrancy to present readings of female-authored plays, directed by female directors. The next Tactical Reads presentation is January 27, 2013.
Screenwriter Thuc Nguyen, founder of The Bitch Pack, says that the newest 2013 “Bitch List” will be ready for distribution by January 12, so there will be a lot to discuss at the Samuel French/Hollywood event. “We need this event to bring to light the fact that this town/our industries still don’t pay enough attention to women’s dialogue and women’s representation on stage or film. Our afternoon will have writers mingling together and hopefully new connections to bring our goals and missions to fruition!”
Lynne Moses, a founding partner of Appleseed Entertainment who writes, directs and produces for the screen and stage, feels the event is a vital one. Moses, the Communication Director for LA FPI, explains: “Women’s historic exclusion from theatre deprived the world of female voices for centuries. Now that women are free to write for the stage and screen, there’s a lot of catching up to do! The January 12th Hollywood event is a great opportunity to highlight the extraordinary work of women on L.A.’s stages and screens.”
Playwright Jennie Webb, a co-Founder of LA FPI, and Editor of the group’s website, feels the synergy between the two groups is a natural fit. “One of the things that we told ourselves when we started LA FPI is ‘Let’s not say no.’ We wanted to focus on the positive and the possibilities while staying true to our goals: helping put women’s voices onstage. So when we heard a cry in the wilderness from the Bitch Pack, of course we jumped at the chance to help one another by joining forces whenever possible. Playwrights work in film and TV, and vice versa: screenwriters want to play in theaters. Hopefully, by corralling our energies, there’ll be more women working in both fields, and more collective energy feeding us all as we move forward. Here’s a big ‘YES’ to connecting like-minded women in the new year.”
A future collaboration between the Bitch Pack and LA FPI may include a 2013 livestreamed reading event to feature L.A. women writers who work on stage and screen. Other possibilities: Finding new collaborators, exploring new creative ventures…and finding innovative ways to change the representation of women on stage and screen, by encouraging more women’s voices in the mix.