Melanie Wise – Artemis Film Festival
By: Ruth Hill
I am very passionate about strong women and women standing up for themselves. It just so happens that I am not alone. Even within the realm of the entertainment industry, there are those who are seeking to highlight the tough and dare I say “kick ass” women of films. I happened upon one such woman, Melanie Wise, and I was delighted to chat with her recently as we discussed her upcoming crowdfunded film festival, which brings attention to women’s action films and the ladies who are attempting to shift the focus of the film industry.
What inspired you to enter the entertainment industry?
I grew up on a farm and so I grew up as a nontraditional woman who worked hard. It was a blessing and a curse, but it helped to make me the strong woman I am today. From a very young age, I was always interested in entertainment.I moved to California to pursue those dreams. I started with modeling and then moved on to acting. The real issue was that I am six feet tall and I am very physical and involved in strength conditioning. This means that I cannot be cast in the typical female role of “victim.” My physical presence doesn’t fit into that mold. I prefer action roles and strong women, but for some reason, studios don’t think these do well at the box office. I think acting is a pile of fun, but I don’t understand why men are typically cast in films as the saviors of the females.
What is your main purpose in the organization of the Artemis Film Festival? Please share some history with us.
This is the second year of our festival. We fully crowdfunded last year, while featuring some amazing acts, and this year is going to be even better. Our purpose in this film festival is to raise the awareness of women in action films. We realized there wasn’t one such festival and because we are so passionate about it, we decided to start our own project to showcase these women.
Women in action films are nothing new. Many people forget that in the 1960’s, Raquel Welch made six action films. Women like us who feel so strongly about promoting women’s action films are shocked to discover that studios find these kinds of films difficult to quantify and we honestly don’t know why. There have been many viable women’s action films and movements (Lucy Liu, for example), but people tend to forget that.
Look at any era of history and you will find strong, tough women. It makes no sense that after all this time, women’s history is still overlooked. How is it that women who served their country in WWII came back and were soon “barefoot and pregnant” again? Why is it that physically strong women do not sell the roles with studios and the general public? The best example of a physically strong woman in a great action film is that of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. We need more roles like this and our festival is drawing attention to this neglected portion of the industry.
Why crowdfunding for your festival?
Crowdfunding is an awesome tool as it gives the fans a chance to back a project they believe in. But it is so much harder than what most people realize. And sadly, since we are a women’s action film festival, it’s much harder to find private sponsorship like other film festivals do. So, we have been able to find some unbelievable perks for our backers.
One of the things about women action films is that they have challenged the way we look at the female anatomy. “Xena,” for example, has shown that women can be scantily clad and still kick ass. But there is a fine line that women walk in this area, as I do not feel it is necessary to reveal so much skin in order to make a statement for strong women. However, I will say it is not necessary to completely shut the physical quality down.
Film festivals like this can teach us just how strong women are. Did you know that back in 1965 there was a women’s survival camp where twenty-six women attended and learned serious wilderness survival skills? There was a documentary submitted to our festival that chronicles the journey of these women and where they are today. Why does it take a festival like this for us to highlight women like this from a time period where men dominated? I love women who push boundaries and I believe that women of strength should be celebrated.
Why should fans support this festival, and where should they go to find more information?
This festival is a celebration of strong women and women in action films and our IndieGoGo is the only place you can go to get passes to the screenings of the films that have been submitted from all around the globe. Our films last year had everything from emotionally moving films to very sad stories. This year, in addition to our documentaries (and there are some truly amazing ones), we will have a special screening of the horror short No Touching and also Crawl or Die. In addition to this, we will have a “Red Carpet Show,” and there will be some kid-friendly activities and special events. There’s a lot more information about our festival and who is involved over on our IndieGoGo page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-women-kick-ass-project-2#/ and our crowdfunding project ends March 24. Our festival happens April 22-24.
After talking with Melanie, I was so inspired that I began to do a bit of thinking on my own about this festival. She is one of the genuinely nice, immeasurably supportive and absolutely down-to-earth ladies you’ll meet in this business. She even saluted the stand I had taken in my life against those who would attempt to control me. She extended her invitation to me to attend this film festival and that is exactly what I intend to do. So, please consider supporting this phenomenal festival and be sure to look for a wealth of interviews and coverage from me as I attend what is going to be a totally kick ass weekend in April! Be sure to follow Melanie (and her film festival) on Twitter for all the updates concerning this project and more.