Lights, camera, affirmative action for film producer from Maine

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BRUNSWICK — How should Hollywood get more women into the industry?

Hire them.

At least that’s what the team behind the new film “Band Aid” did: Maine native and producer Natalia Anderson, and director and actress Zoe Lister-Jones hired an entirely female production crew.

The film, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was bought by IFC, played at Frontier Cafe in Fort Andross Aug. 29-Sept. 3. 

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In an interview before the Maine screening, Anderson, 33, of Houlton, said she is excited to bring her work to Maine – no less because of its progressive production practices.

The plot of the film picks up where most romantic comedies leave off, Anderson said: the “ever-after” part of the happily-ever-after.

The film follows a married couple played by Lister-Jones and Adam Pally, who combat a rut in their marriage by forming a band, making each of their fights the basis for a song.

“It’s a love letter to marriage in a very dark way,” Anderson said with a laugh.

For this film, she said, romance isn’t portrayed with butterfly feelings, but around the hard work that comes later. “This couple is choosing to stay together,” she said.

Lister-Jones, 34, who stars in and met Anderson on the set of the CBS sitcom “Life in Pieces,” wrote the script and directed the film, which features a slate of familiar Hollywood faces, including “Saturday Night Live” veteran and “Portlandia” star Fred Armisen.

Like marriage, the making of  “Band Aid” with an all-female crew was a conscious choice – one that required some creative hard work to achieve a rewarding goal.

Anderson’s team hired about 40 women to make the film; unfortunately, she said, that isn’t something that would happen naturally in Hollywood.

Production roles in the film industry are dramatically gendered, Anderson explained, and positions in the sound, lighting, camera, and grip departments have historically favored men; not surprisingly, more women work in the wardrobe and makeup departments.

That history has created a “Catch-22” for women interested in nontraditional roles, Anderson said.

“You can’t get hired if you don’t get experience, but how do you start?” she said.

One solution? Hire women anyway.

“Otherwise, we’re going to continue to perpetuate this problem,” Anderson said.

She said she and Lister-Jones had to shirk the concern that their film – a low-budget indie project to boot – was taking on additional risks in order to innovate.

Finding a female crew wasn’t easy. There were fewer women within the most qualified tier of the employee market, Anderson said, noting again how the rungs of that ladder have historically been farther out of reach for women.

But Anderson said those risks were more of a trade-off: once everyone was on set, recruitment difficulties were overshadowed by a palpable, feminist-fueled camaraderie.

Anderson said she hopes the film is proof that women can do the work, and are welcome in traditionally male roles; and that production companies will re-examine their hiring practices and encourage a greater balance of genders on set.

“Hopefully,” she said, “it will make some difference.”

Natalia Anderson, left, and Zoe Lister-Jones on the set of their film “Band Aid,” which they made with an entirely female production crew.
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