When I began planning for my first film Iridescent I originally had the lead the character as female. My original screenplay was also far different than what was created for the final cut. The script was far more than what the budget could afford, and the scope was deeper than what we could portray. All the actors were students with little to no time on their hands, the filming lasted only eight days, and as far as equipment goes we only had two cameras and a couple tripods. The story was just too big for what we could actually accomplish. Due to actors having to drop out of the project, characters were switched around and some genders had to be changed, which meant the script had to go through several last-minute revisions. As a result, and due to time constraints, several scenes were cut entirely or merged into others. The end result was a 90-minute planned filmed became a 27-minute film.
However, amongst all these changes one thing remained—the lead character needed to be female. It wasn’t out of a need to please the gender-equality crowd like the sudden move in Hollywood to remake films with an all-female cast. On a side-note, I do not like it when production studios think that remaking a film with an all-female cast, and they think it somehow calms down the equal rights voices. I don’t think that’s what they had in mind. No, I think they want to see films where the lead character was originally meant to be not only female but a strong one.
No more of the cliche where the guy tries to get the girl, or the guy has to save the girl, or…well, you get the idea. The point is that a strong female character is more relatable. How is she relatable to men, you might ask. The strong female embodies both men’s and women’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We see her go through her trials, and we can all say, “I know how that feels.”
We see characters such as Princess Leia, Ripley, Sarah Conner, Rey (Skywalker?), The Bride, Hermione Granger, Marion Ravenwood, Marry Poppins, Natasha Romenaf (Black Widow) and so forth and we remember them for their ability to not be patronized, or treated beneath others (i.e. men). In fact, there is a reason why in almost all teen flicks the only girl who does not go topless is the one the guy hooks up with.
Now, back to the character in my film. I wrote this character with a lot of myself put into her personality. I was always pushed around, my friendships were always taken advantage of, people thought I was weird, and I didn’t know how to stop apologizing for things that were not my fault. So, let’s be honest here—had that character been written as a male you might feel a little bad for him, but since the character was written as a female you feel more empathy for her. I think a big part of that is because of our natural instincts when it comes to motherly beings (spoiler alert, that means women).
So, this character (who is named after one of my favorite female athletes, Shelly-Ann Frazier-Price) is tossed on a journey that teaches her she is not beneath anyone, and the importance of humanity for everyone. Unfortunately, I was not able to explore that very deeply, nor smoothly in my film, but if I get the chance (and the budget), I would gladly remake it the way it was originally imagined!
Anyway, there are a number of more reasons why strong female characters are important in film, aside from how badass it is to see them! What I would love to see is studios backing off of this new trend to remake films with an all-female cast, and green light films with characters meant to be strong females.