For a number of aspiring female filmmakers, creative artists and media producers at MSU, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to show their significance in 2018.
The movements began last year after a New York Times report alleged years upon years of sexual assault and predatory behavior toward several actresses by film magnate Harvey Weinstein.
Shortly after Weinstein’s subsequent fall from grace, actress Alyssa Milano began the now widely-recognized #MeToo, which was started by Tarana Burke. The movement, ushered in by her and other celebrities, has reached millions of women around the world. It is significant to a number of women at MSU.
The State News talked to several young women who are currently striving to establish careers in filmmaking, theater, digital production and the creative arts at MSU. For Ilene Gould, Cassandra Perry and Claudia Caceres, three students interested in everything from directing to screenwriting to acting, the movement is needed to hold those in powerful positions accountable.
When she thinks of her future career, Ilene Gould wants it all.
Gould is a media and information sophomore with a concentration in film production at MSU. Her three minors — fiction filmmaking, documentary production and music — reflect her deep appreciation for a wide range of media arts.
“Something that I’ve always been really involved in is the arts,” Gould said. “As a kid, I was a dancer, involved in theater and music. I played oboe all throughout middle school and high school and in college.”
From that realization, Gould’s vision grew to include her making a name for herself in the world of cinema. As to what she would do if she became a influential figure in the world of filmmaking, Gould noted her interest in resolving the gender pay gap between male and female celebrities.
“Something that I’ve always been really passionate about is gender equality,” Gould said. “That’s always been something that’s really bothered me, and I think that feminism is not just about treating everyone equally, but it’s about viewing everyone equally, too.”
Gould, who keeps up with current events in Hollywood, shared her thoughts on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements ushered in by Weinstein’s ousting.
“It is a little scary to know that this is the field that I’m going into, and that people who have come before me have dealt with sexual harassment and gender equality issues,” Gould said. “I love that it’s ‘Time’s up,’ because it really is. It’s way too long for women to be exploited in Hollywood and for women to be used … whether it’s for sexual favors or harassment to advance.”
Gould said she thinks the movements have a positive impact on her generation of female filmmakers.
“It’s really important that we’re making it known now and that it’s happening now, so hopefully by the time that I’m in the industry and other girls are in the industry, that it’s totally gone, that it’s not a problem anymore,” she said.
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Cassandra “Cassie” Perry
When Cassie Perry transferred to MSU, she came to recognize how much she appreciated the heart and passion that goes into filmmaking.
“I came in and I realized that the one thing I was really interested in was film and movies, and I just always have had a real connection with them and the way that they tell stories,” Perry said.
To her, a media and information senior with a minor in film studies and fiction filmmaking, cinema represents a medium she can use to discover the individuality of different people.
“I’ve just always been really inspired by the kind of humanity that comes out in film, and I like that it was kind of a medium where you can just explore people, in the same way that psychology is, but film is such an isolated thing,” she said.
Perry, who is set to graduate this year, said she mostly wants to be a part of the creative building process in the film industry, though she’s also happy to be anywhere.
“I’ve always thought of myself as the kind of person who would be happy just doing anything,” Perry said. “You know, supporting anything in movies. I’d always want to be part of the production set, that kind of vibe, where you’re either like a director, or a cinematographer, a writer — anything where you’re in that kind of development stage.”
Like Gould, Perry has also kept her eyes on the current crisis overshadowing Hollywood.
“It’s a common conversation between a lot of my friends and I,” Perry said. “The #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement are about having some sort of consequence for the actions that are made and making those things aware.”
Perry said the movements are something she cares deeply about. Hearing the allegations against Weinstein and numerous other celebrities made Perry realize the presence of a trend in cases of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood.
“What’s unique or different about media positions and film positions is that there’s this strange type of power that comes involved,” Perry said. “It’s not even the same. It’s similar to like, a CEO taking advantage of someone.”
Perry noted that victims of sexual assault and harassment should know they’re not alone.
“It’s good for women and men to know that they’re not alone, that this happens to so many people, not only in the media but just in the world, everywhere,” Perry said. “It’s important for those stories and those issues to be at the forefront of the news.”
Claudia Caceres said she switched her major to English for that very reason.
“I adore writing,” Caceres said. “I don’t just want to act. I want to create stories and scripts for families, younger people.”
Caceres, an English junior with minors in fiction filmmaking and theater, also has an adoration for film production.
And while she grew up loving films, she said there was a special emphasis on one such medium — animation.
“I adore animation,” Caceres said. “Animation is a way to make a movie that is so unmatched that you can’t stop yourself. There’s so much you can do. I guess you could say it really molded my dream, creativity-wise.”
Reminiscing on her childhood, Caceres said she wants to direct or produce films for today’s children who are just like the ones that she grew up with.
“Kids are so smart,” Caceres said. “They’re not given enough credit on how smart they are. And they need smart movies.”
She said she keeps up with all that transpires in Hollywood, including the celebrities she views as role models.
And, like many, Caceres was stunned when it was revealed that Weinstein — a professional in his industry and an easily recognizable name — had allegedly manipulated and sexually harassed women for years.
“I’ve been very much following the coattails of it,” Caceres said. “The thing that also was just so powerful about this movement is when the thing about Harvey Weinstein came out. And it was like, a snowball effect.”
As the news made waves, Caceres said her parents contacted her via FaceTime out of concern.
“They were like, ‘Oh my gosh, Claudia. We are so nervous about you going into this industry,’” Caceres said.
However, despite the call and concerns, Caceres, said she is not afraid to enter into said industry.
“But this happens in any industry,” Caceres said. “My dad is in the military, and so he knows. He has had to deal with dumb instances of this kind of stuff happening.”
She said she’s supportive of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
To her, the concept of utilizing social media, along with celebrities using their platforms to usher the movements along, are excellent.
“The great thing about social media is that things spread like wildfire,” Caceres said. “You know, it just goes. Also I love that with this movement, these celebrities are raising money for women who are more like waitresses or doing underpaid jobs who have had to deal with sexual harassment. That’s what you should use your platform for.”
Caceres said she also feels the movements have become a stepping stone those in the film industry can rely upon.
“I feel like this movement has been very eye-opening that we as women … We’re done. We’re finished,” Caceres said. “This is something to expand upon and to learn from and to make sure this stuff doesn’t happen.”
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