The scrape of classroom seats, excited chatter and Christina Aguilera’s “Sick of Sittin’” filled the space of the small classroom as the Women In Film club commenced its fifth meeting.
In her deep, powerful voice, Aguilera sang, “I’m sick of sittin’, I’m sick of sittin’ I’m sick of sittin’/I’ve been workin’ too hard to not be livin’” a mantra akin to what the club stands for.
The club was founded in the fall of 2017 by Long Beach State graduate Jessie Butera and was taken over by fourth-year film major Claudia Villalta and second-year marketing major Xochitl Torres. This semester, the pair aims to combat the marginalization of women in the film industry.
The club promotes a positive representation of trivialized groups and arranges events that depict prosperous women in film. Meetings take place every Monday at 7 p.m. in the University Telecommunications building Room 201.
“Our first meeting when we were in leadership I opened it up by asking, ‘What was everyone’s favorite movie or director?’ and everyone who answered, obviously it was a male director and I was like, ‘See, this is what we’re trying to change,’” Villalta said.
Villalta and Torres both started their film careers during high school. Torres made short films in her spare time but discovered a newfound admiration.
“I mostly enjoy the marketing aspect of film, being able to market the final product because what you market to an audience is how they might become engaged and they’ll want to see whatever is being released,” Torres said.
Villalta started off in her high school theatre company with aspirations of being a set designer or an art director and like Torres, her sights were later on something different. For Villalta, that was becoming a director.
“I want to be a director of sustainability so it’s very niche and specific but it’s still in film,” Villalta said.
The club hopes to inspire young filmmakers while promoting intersectionality in the film industry.
“Oftentimes as women we’re discouraged on set,” Villalta said. “The culture on set can sometimes be male-dominated and I often found myself like, ‘I don’t belong here’ and I don’t want any freshman, anyone to feel like that on set.”
WIF has also become an oasis for members to vent any frustrations or “negative experiences on set” that many find themselves facing, Torres said.
Villalta added, “If you are harassed or you are talked down upon we want to arm [members] with tools to combat that and not just get through it because I don’t think that’s enough, but stop it and mitigate it.”
Club member Hope Kindred, LBSU first year and pre-film and electronic arts narrative production major echoed that the club was a secure place to express themselves.“I feel like I’ve gained a safe, secure environment where I can voice my opinions especially regarding this topic of film being such a male-dominated field,” Kindred said.
Contrary to the gender the club name boasts, the film club is not exclusive to female members. At the fifth meeting of the semester, the seats were speckled with the occasional male student listening intently to the contents of the gathering.
Second year film major JT Hamel came to the WIF for the first time per the club’s Outreach Coordinator, Victoria Cota.
“I honestly don’t think I had many expectations, I don’t think I expected to have as good of a time that I did not because I just wasn’t expecting much of the club, but I just came to support a friend and hang out and then I ended up really enjoying my time here,” Hamel said.
To Villalta, having men that women can count on to support and vouch for them is crucial for the future of the industry.
“I think that having males as allies and supporters is dier to a situation that we’re in right now,” Villalta said. “I don’t think anyone can do anything alone, I’m not saying just women, but any marginalized community.”
The overall message that Villalta and Torres hope members take from the club is women should not settle for being behind the scenes.