Girls on Film – Exclusive GIGsoup Interview

GIGsoup recently sat down with Girls on Film, a London based all-female collective, who put on women-lead cross medium arts events. The group, which consists of Holly, Sabrina, Julia and Amelia has grown in it’s focus and scope over the last two years, but has retained the same goal: to give female filmmakers, artists and musicians a platform to be heard and to participate in discussion. GOF is taking on the theme of music as their next topic, and had some interesting thoughts on gender imbalance in the music industry, and what they hoped to achieve with their events in the future.

What are the origins of Girls on Film?

Amelia- It started a few years ago with me and Holly just writing reviews of films. It really naturally grew into events; we started reviewing certain events and they asked us to help them out.  

When you were doing those intitial reviews, what kind of film were you focusing on?

A-We’ve always had a more feminist edge. At the start it was more that we were doing reviews of films that we found interesting. Old films, new films and then films that press would send us. As we got more into it, it was more important to look at women in the industry and how they’re being seen on the screen. Even if it’s not female directors, particular films that are good or bad for women and thats what we wanted to explore.

Holly- We also reviewed short films quite a lot and that’s how we started doing short film nights; we curated our events based on the sort of stuff we were interested in.

A- Another thing that we always do is try an go to loads of events in London. I think that this has pushed us to do our own events to a higher standard, and to see how they work. It’s definitely lead us to what we’re doing now I think.

What does a typical Girls on Film Night consist of?

H- We base the night around the theme. We get inspiration from everywhere so it can really be about anything. The elements of an event will grow out of a theme really. They are always short film based, but we always try and bring other elements in. Usually that will consist of a performance before a film; This could be a spoken word reading/ music anything really. Afterward there will be a discussion with the relevant people in the industry.

H-We also try and work with other charities and people who consist of or work with women. Organisations that maybe wouldn’t normally get a platform to show off what they do.

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What themes have you addressed in previous events?

H-We’ve addressed themes such as motherhood. The idea of growing up…

S- When Trump got into power we threw a huge party. The plan was to celebrate all the good things that happened in the year rather than all the terrible stuff that had gone on. After Trump getting in and David Bowie dying, everyone needed cheering up.

A- It was a nice change because our themes can be quite heavy. The nights are uplifting but thematically heavy in their content.

S- Everyone was really up for a party too; afterward we had a DJ set from Mina from Boco Boco and it was great. Everyone was dancing. We had a guy with a tamberine who randomly came along.

H- Who was he?

A-Nobody knows..

You’ve touched on music a few times. Your new event is based on Women in film and music…

S- The next event is how music ties into film in terms of storytelling. We’ve got a few female DJs who are partnering with us. We also have films which have female directors which are tied into music. So things like music videos or documentaries about music. We wanted to keep it fairly broad in terms of it’s themes so we could bring in a lot of different elements.

A- It all started with a screening of a film by a female director that was based on her time in the EDM scene in Ibiza. She sent it to us and really wanted to work with us and have another screening. So we thought; why not just make it into a whole night? Looking at women in the music industry.

H- We never really show music videos but some of them are so incredible that we thought that this was a good chance to screen them.

A- There was also a focus (in the documentary) on the fact that female DJs don’t really get as much exposure, and how at festivals there aren’t as many female artists on the lineup.

A- After the backlash of Redding and Leeds Festival having barely any female acts, Festival Republic who owns the two launched the Rebalance Campaign to try and re-address the balance of gender at festivals.

S- When I’ve been Djing myself at my own events, I’ve had people ask me if I was the actually DJ for the night. Someone once said to me; “oh so anyone can get up there and play”. We’re just not taken seriously.

A- It’s the same with singers. Theres a really strange idea that there can only be one female singer to fill a slot or a role. I was reading this interview with Tinashe recently. She was talking about this idea that there can only be one; like you can either be Beyonce or Rhianna. So people like Ciara haven’t done as well as they should have even though she’s amazing, because the industry thinks that we don’t need anyone else to fill that slot. Tinashe is popular but shes not as popular as she could be for how talented she is. What she was saying is that people don’t think she’s necessary. You can only have a certain amount of women doing well, but an infinite number of men for some reason. Its kind of like; having a seat at the table, but having a much bigger table. Its not about other people having to leave so another come in. Music is beautiful and there should be as much of it as possible.

Is part of the reason for the event to bring together these women who maybe aren’t acknowledged in the industry?

A- Its also about asking why.

S- Its about bringing in composers and people in the industry to talk about their experiences

H- I’ve also never seen as talk with a female composer.

So when you’ve been looking for people for the music event is it people that tend to approach you or people that you already know?

A-The films have been sort of half and half. One is the film that we mentioned earlier. Another was a beautiful music video that we kept for five months, waiting for a time to show it. Other films we found through other link that we have. We put out calls to get people in. The speakers are people that we tend to research and reach out too.

You said that you’ve had DJs at your other events. Was it always the plan to make the two events run in tandem?

A- Its always been a cross-art event. Its about women bringing in different skills.

H- Its about how art can be bourne out of the same situation, even if the media is different. It makes for great conversation and it’s really great to hear women talking about the same issues and getting along.

S- We also go on so many amazing nights out and see incredible people, we want to get them more involved with what we’re up too.

A- The whole point, and what brings everything together is the discussion at the end. The reason that we have a theme is that we can talk about the theme at the end. The speakers come together and talk about the issues that have arisen and what we’ve seen.

H- It becomes bigger than the film.

A-Yeah, exactly.

How do you go about curating an event that has potentially a lot of mediums and a lot of genres at play?

S- we tend to approach DJs that we like and we’ve had a good time at their events. So because of that, they sort of tend to work together on the basis of genre. In terms of the films, they all work together because they are all talking about the same thing.

H- It’s about the struggle to have a platform for their work.

A- It’s also maybe a look at the fact that these are bigger issues that people are talking about

Where would you like to be in the future with this event?

A-My dream is for people take our ideas to other events. These kinds of things aren’t happening in say Nottingham and Bristol. What I would love is for people to take these ideas and make their own things.

H- The resources are there. I think there is something to be said for taking a chance and approaching people. Theres always the fear of like: “they’re a bit big, so they wont work with us”. You just have to give it a try.

S- We got a really nice email actually from a group called Real Femme in Shefield who said they were inspired to get organised because of one of our events.

A- That’s all we ever wanted, that’s the dream.

Girls on Film’s next event will take place on the 21st of September at the Hackney Showroom, London. 

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