Kween Krush: YOLANDA RAMKE “Being A Female Filmmaker In A Post-Weinstein World.”

Kween Krush: YOLANDA RAMKE “Being A Female Filmmaker In A Post-Weinstein World.”

Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Yolanda, we have a crush on you because you’re living out your dreams and passions daily, all while doing it in a pretty tough, male-dominated industry. Despite all of that, you’re seriously crushing it and leaving your mark the film world.

How does it feel to call yourself a female filmmaker?

To be honest, I never really thought to consciously define myself that way in the beginning. I think that probably stems from being a bit of a tomboy growing up and not being especially interested in things that were typically associated with the feminine. I always resisted and resented it when I was pressured into emulating those qualities, because they didn’t really come naturally to me. By the time film school came around, I just wanted to be a filmmaker full-stop, I didn’t really think about the fact that I was a woman while doing it. But in the past few years that has shifted for me; the more engaged I’ve become in the conversation surrounding the representation of women both behind and in front of the camera, the more I’ve realised that I’ve had my blinkers on and that being a female filmmaker actually is an important point of difference because we’re one of many minorities in this industry.

We have had to fight harder to have our stories told and our voices heard and our proficiencies go unquestioned. So, as a female writer and director, if the work I do can in some way contribute positively to the dialogue around this, I would be very proud of that – particularly in terms of the perception of women in genre filmmaking. I think we are often seen through a fairly narrow prism in terms of what projects might appeal to us (both as practitioners, and as audience members), and it’s a narrative that doesn’t sync up at all with what often excites me – or any of the female filmmakers I know – as a storyteller and viewer. I’d love to see that misconception blown out of the water.

So it means even more to you considering the current climate?

The most recent study by Screen Australia determined that from 1970 – 2014 only 16% of feature film directors, 21% of feature film writers, and 30% of feature film producers were women. The figures for women of colour, LGBTQI and women with disabilities was, of course, even lower. That is objectively an insane imbalance. Four years later and we’ve still got a long way to go. Especially when you consider the fact that men and women are graduating from film schools around the country in equal numbers. So the maths is against us. But, what’s changing is the conversation – and it’s no longer just talking, it’s active, it’s becoming incentivised, women and men in all tiers of the system are starting to make tangible efforts to correct this. It’s an ongoing global discussion point, and the fear that it would just be the flavour of the month is thankfully proving to be quite the opposite. It’s a genuine movement. So I feel quite optimistic about where we’re headed, even if we’ve still got quite a bit of work to do to get there.

As you just stated, in Australia only 16% of films are directed by women. What can be done to change it?

I think things are gradually changing to try and shift that statistic. Visibility is of course a huge part of this, and just consciously ensuring that – especially for young girls who have an interest in this field – we are sharing images of women on sets directing or working as cinematographers so that it doesn’t even become a question of whether that’s possible, because the evidence is there everywhere they turn. I think  #FemaleFilmmakerFriday has been an awesome grassroots approach to supporting that concept. And the more we all see women like Patty Jenkins directing the shit out of a big-budget comic book film like Wonder Woman or Rachel Morrison shooting the hell out of Black Panther, I mean, these women are blazing trails and it’s incredibly inspiring – for female filmmakers, of course, but I would hope also for aspiring male filmmakers too.

When did you first realise that you loved film and wanted to direct?

I caught the bug early. I was five-years-old when my Dad brought home our first camcorder, and I felt an instant, obsessive need to understand how it worked and to be trusted to wield its power. I grew up in rural mining towns, so the cinema was a very rare treat. Instead I used to raid the local video store, compulsively tape off free-to-air and orchestrate neighbourhood ‘reboots’ with my friends. If I had to pick a single, formative movie experience that probably cemented my path, it would have to be Jurassic Park. That film is essentially my generation’s Star Wars, the seminal blockbuster of my childhood. It had a physiological effect on me, and everyone in that theatre. It was electric. Jaw-dropping. I think that’s when it dawned on me that somebody was behind that screen pulling the strings, and I wanted in.

What did you do to advance this passion? Was it encouraged by your family and friends?

I did the film school thing and that was a helpful introduction. And then I basically spent about seven years working behind the scenes in the industry on other people’s projects (films and local TV dramas, reality TV, you know name it) just to learn how all the pieces fit together. Throughout that period I was developing my own material on the side and voraciously devouring films and TV shows, reading books about filmmaking and screenwriting and basically just educating myself as much as possible. My family were supportive pretty much from the get-go. Like most parents they had reservations, they were anxious for me because nobody in my extended family had ever really embarked upon a creative career before, so it was essentially fear of the unknown. I think there’s definitely also that perception of the industry being cutthroat and fickle, so that probably played into their thinking as well. But overall, I’ve felt extremely supported, and that feeling is only growing.

One of your partners-in-film-crime is a man (Ben Howling). What type of a working dynamic do you both have and would it surprise the normal stereotype of how a woman and man work together?

It’s interesting, because I’ve directed solo as well, and I’ve also directed with a female co-director (Danielle Baynes, who was also my co-writer and co-star on the 2016 short film Cold Hearts), so for me it’s kind of a fluid thing. I understand that that’s a little unconventional, directors usually work exclusively as an individual or in a set partnership, but I haven’t ever really felt the need for professional monogamy so to speak. That said, I love collaborating with Ben, he’s a very good friend of mine, so our working relationship is founded on that, and also the fact that when it comes to genre projects we share a very similar taste and sensibility. Our working dynamic probably isn’t that surprising, no. Given that I wrote the screenplay for Cargo and have studied acting, I’m typically a bit more across matters of story and performance, whereas Ben comes from a shooting/editing background, so he’s a bit more savvy with the some of the more technical aspects of the job, but we don’t formally delineate between those things, there’s a huge amount of crossover.

Were you at all shocked by the Weinstein bombshell that hit late last year? Did this reflect any of your own experiences?

I wasn’t shocked at all, which is probably very disturbing in itself. As the #MeToo movement took off, yes, it absolutely caused me to reflect on my experiences as a woman in general, not just as a woman working in the entertainment industry. It was horrifying to see how prevalent that hashtag was in the social sphere, hearing people you care about confiding about how they had been hurt (often in ways which mirrored encounters I’d had myself), but at the same time the feeling of unity and community and the global galvanisation that resulted was remarkable. These conversations had come and gone before, but there was something different about it this time. You could feel the collective rage that has been building up for women their whole lives, their mothers’ lives, their grandmothers’ lives, and it finally felt like there was a healthy place to put that anger and defiance – it was justified, and shared, and essential. May it only gather steam, and push society forward.

You’ve done some amazing work so far; in 2017 you completed your debut feature film Cargo which has made the list of “10 Australian Films To Watch In 2018“. Though it may feel like a lifetime ago now, could you give us some insight as to how this got started and how it went from a short film to this Australian movie juggernaut?

We shot the short back in December 2012, and it was Tropfest finalist come February. It was then posted online, and we were fortunate enough that it was curated on a handful of influential pop culture sites (BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Short Of The Week, Vimeo, i09). Within about a month it had landed about 1.5 million views on YouTube (it’s now almost 14 million). At that point, it was being passed around agencies in LA, which is how my co-director Ben and I wound up signing with CAA. By April we were in LA armed with a treatment for the Cargo feature, and were meeting with potential producers. Two weeks later, we came back to Australia with US producers attached to developing the project with us. I spent the rest of that year writing the first draft of the script, and from there our Australian producers came on board, and then we were off and running. From the time we shopped that first treatment through to multiple drafts of the script, financing, casting, shooting, post-production etc. to the time we release in mid-May this year, it’ll have been 5 years. So it’s been this very strange combination of a whirlwind ride and a slow climb, just constantly oscillating between the two.

What types of film would you like to make in the future?

I’ve always just been such a fan of so many different genres of stories, so I’d really like to try my hand at all sorts of things. I’ve been lucky so far that each project I have worked on has felt like a departure from the one that came before. As a writer, I’ve recently been commissioned to adapt a WWII book into a feature, followed by a crime/thriller novel into a TV pilot, and that variety of genres and formats has just been so much fun to play with. I do love genre films, though, so that’s certainly territory I’m sure I’ll drift back toward – projects that have some kind of subtle supernatural thread.

As a white female filmmaker, I’m conscious of the fact that I have privilege of my own to keep in check, and that’s something I need to continually interrogate within myself. Whatever challenges I have encountered go twofold for minority female filmmakers. Other than the roles written for and stories told about women and films in general being made by women, I really look forward to a time when the very language and vocabulary we use to describe female characters evolves too. As Shonda Rhimes said recently, we need to stop using phrases like “Smart, Strong Women” and “Strong Female Leads” because there are no “Dumb Weak Women”, there are just women. She also points out that ‘women’ aren’t simply the latest trend, and actually we make up half of the planet, so yeah… what Shonda said.

Carmela has only met Yolanda once, but of course it was in the most unforgettable way: a friend’s Birthday party, followed by a late-night karaoke session. Little did Yolanda know that Carmela had actually been dying to meet her for months and she was definitely not disappointed. Carmela can now revel in the fact that sometimes it’s ok to meet your heroes.

Things people say to single thirty-something year olds.

Things people say to single thirty-something year olds.

“What do you mean you can’t afford it? It’s not like you’ve got 3 kids to feed at home?”– No, I don’t. Thank you Capitan Obvious. But that doesn’t mean things aren’t expensive for me too. I’m responsible for my rent, my bills, my groceries (which don’t come at a ‘discount rate’ because I’m single) and I don’t have the luxury of sharing those costs with someone else.

“I don’t know how you travel so much, don’t you want to buy a house?”– To quote the little Mexican girl in Old El Paso ad, “Why don’t we have both?” It doesn’t have to be one, or the other. And even if I wasn’t traveling so much, I’m sure all my money would be going on smashed-avo-on-toast right?

“You’re soooo lucky, you have all this free time to yourself, you get to do whatever you want.”- Yes, I do. That’s my choice. You had that option too and you chose a different lifestyle. Accept it. The grass isn’t always greener.

“I wish I had your life. I miss having one-night stands.”- Ha! I spend most weekends at home. I hardly ever go out. I haven’t been to a club since Ja Rule was a thing. I’ve had sex once this year.

“Let me go on your Tinder and choose a guy for you.”- Oh, what a fun ‘game’ for you. Go ahead.

“Do you think you’re just too fussy? Loosen up a bit and date someone!”- Forgive me for not throwing myself in front of every bachelor. If choosing to be single over shacking-up with ‘Basic Barry’ (because I don’t fear being alone) is wrong, sue me.

“So, why don’t you have a boyfriend?” Followed by “Oh my god, don’t get a boyfriend, they’re so annoying.”- Stop asking single people ‘why’ they don’t have a boyfriend. 98% of the single-population don’t know why and the other 2%, well… be prepared for a 5-hour conversation about dating apps, how dating is harder these days, how no one dates anymore etc. Also, there’s no need to play-down your relationship in front of your single friends. You’ll find most of your single friends are happy that you’re in a relationship- even if they’re not in one. Seriously.

“So, don’t you want kids?” Followed by “Honestly, don’t do it, kids are the worst, mine is being such a little shit today.”- You don’t have to talk your single friends into having kids. You also don’t have to tell them about the bad stuff in order to make them feel better about not having kids. Single people aren’t getting around all ‘single’ because they don’t want to reproduce. For some, that might be the case, but majority of singletons just haven’t found someone they want to start a family with yet. And some are struggling to get to the 3rd date stage, let alone the baby-making stage. OR maybe, just maybe they’re not ready yet and have other things they want to get out of the way first. Like, numerous Sunday bottomless brunches that involve smashed-avo-on-toast.

“Can we go on a girls night? I just wanna get drunk and do random stuff like you.”- I’m in bed by 7pm most nights. Is that random enough for you?

“Are you one of those weird feminist types? When will you people stop complaining?”- You first.

“Are you a lesbian?”- Lol! I wish. But since your sexuality isn’t a choice, let’s just settle for the fact that it’s not as simple as switching teams and Bob’s your uncle, your single days are over. Thanks anyway Detective Dickhead.

So to conclude, try some of these instead…

“Wanna just have a night at home instead? I can’t afford to go out and you probably can’t as well?”

“Where are you off to next?”

“I’m free this weekend, let’s drink all the wine!”

“Fuck, how shit is Tinder? And how many dic pics are you gettin’ on the reg? Not cool man!”

“Hey, congratulations on surviving any single-person stereotypes today!”

“Screw the haters, you do you boo!”

“You’re amazing and your life is amazing just the way it is.”

“Slay girl, slay all day!!”

Ok, ok. I think you get my point. 😉

Big love,

Carmela

x

Introducing Carmela Contarino, the #PowerKween behind ‘So The Fairy Tales Lied…’ 👸🏻♥️✨

Carmela is an Aussie in London with wanderlust. A TV/Radio rebel. Fierce feminist. Loud laugh-er. Emotional eat-er. Pop culture cat. Red wine wooer and karaoke kween. She hopes that her experiences are just like yours, funny, warm, loud, raw and that maybe you can figure out this thing called ‘life’ together. #YasssKween 🙌🏼

Kween Krush: YVIE JONES “You Must Trust Your Gut!”

Kween Krush: YVIE JONES “You Must Trust Your Gut!”

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Kween Krush alert!! This is where we celebrate everyday women for being complete badass Wonder Women.

Yvie, we’ve got a crush on you because simply, you have a heart of freaking gold! Not only do you spend most of your days caring for your housemate Tom but also your 6 dogs (most of which are rescues). Did we also mention you’re pee-your-pants funny? And lucky us, because we got to witness that weekly on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Australia’ with former housemate Angie from the Logie-winning Australian TV showGogglebox.

How did you, Tom and Angie all come to live together?

I had a crazy friend who was getting his masters at Sydney University and he saw an ad on the uni accommodation page offering free rent to two people who would live with a man with down syndrome as carers but act as just ‘housemates’ to him. His name is Tom. The set-up is so Tom can live independently, as he’d never survive a group home. He also has type 1 diabetes, which requires 24 hour care. I met with Tom and we decided to move in. He’s like a brother to me now. Oh, and it turned out that crazy friend was a bit too crazy, so we had to move him on. After living alone with Tom for a year, I roped Angie into moving in. It was pretty hard on her; it’s a hard situation. But she’s done so well and I absolutely love living with her, she keeps me sane and our relationship is incredible. If we could, we’d be lesbians. But you can’t choose your sexuality, can you!

Lol! So, how different is your life from 3 years ago? Highs? Lows? Struggles?

To be honest, not very different at all! Yes, we have 2 Logies, but we don’t get to attend the awards and you only get to hold the statue for half an hour – dumb. Highs have been my relationships. Angie and I have been forced to watch TV shows that we may not necessarily have ever watched, so therefore we’ve talked about things that have really opened our eyes and because of that, we’ve become so close and have a massive understanding of each other. Angie and I get recognised in the streets, which is wonderful. People are just so lovely. We also get told stories by some that we have given them many laughs and they don’t feel lonely anymore, or the only time they smile is when they sit on their couch and watch us. It’s incredibly humbling. Lows? My mum died less than a year ago and that saw my floor falling away beneath me. I’ve never felt that kind of pain before. And it just stays with you. I just wish I could pick up the phone and call her. I struggle with depression (have for most of my life) and I’m honestly glad I’ve had so much therapy and read so many good books on how to deal with depression, because it’s really helped me deal with my grief for my mum.

Does it make you laugh to think your Mum told you, “You won’t get famous sitting on the couch watching TV?”

When I got ‘Gogglebox’, she was the first person I told and I said, “Do you remember saying that?” She rolled her eyes (as only a mum can) and said “This could only happen to you”.

Bless. Now, we’ve forgotten, your other 6 housemates. The dawwwgs. What made you decide to rescue dogs? And why should other people/families do it?

One day I went to my friend’s birthday lunch at Hugos in the Cross (not there anymore, thanks lockout laws) and I was seated next to a woman who worked for the RSPCA and she was the one who busted ‘puppy mills’. I didn’t know there was such a thing! The stories she told me and the statistics she reeled off had me in tears. I knew from that moment I had to do something. Fostering was the best fit for me. Tom absolutely loves dogs and we have a good house with a backyard. We rescue/foster through Paws and Recover who mostly get calls from emergency departments of people who have OD’d , as well as calls from police stations where dogs have been left behind after a domestic violence incident. Until Paws and Recover came along, there were no charities doing this. Pets would die alone at home because no one knew they were there. Anyone with a safe home, and a love for helping dogs can foster. And if you think ‘but I’d be too heartbroken to let them go’, put your feelings aside and think about the needs of the dog. And if you love the dog that much, then adopt him!

What’s around the corner for you? Musicals? Pantomimes? Cabaret shows? Karaoke competitions?

All of those! I’d really like to get into radio or ‘chat TV’; where it’s me being me. Some acting on our great ABC or SBS programmes has always been a dream of mine. I did go to drama school, so I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.

That’s the 5 year plan?

Yep, doing some or all of the above! And still fostering dawgs. Maybe fall in love with a male feminist???

What does being a feminist mean to you?

Being a feminist to me means believing in equal rights for women. Being treated exactly the same as a man and any good or bad that comes with that. Believing girls can be anything that boys can be.

What’s one thing you would tell ‘younger Yvie’?

Stop dieting. Anything you’re waiting to do ‘once you’ve lost weight’, just do it! And don’t give a fuck what others think, even those closest to you. You must trust your gut.

📸: @yvie_jones

🐦: @yviejones

F: @yvie

Yvie is one of Carmela’s favourite people. They met many years ago in the bathrooms of a record label quiz night; it was love at first sight. They bonded over finding male-unicorns, the movie ‘Beaches’ and a good late-night kebab.