Flipping the Script on Gender Inequality in Hollywood

Ally%20IsemanSatirical short-film digital series Flip the Script is part of a campaign to open a fresh dialogue on a hot topic: gender parity in Hollywood. The satirical series is based on real-life, sexist experiences of women in the industry, re-enacted verbatim – but with gender roles swapped. Writer/creator Ally Iseman (American Housewife) tells Cynopsis why she thinks laughter could lead to a cultural cure.

Cynopsis: How did the Flip the Script series come about?

Ally Iseman: In early 2016, a number of studies were being released that gave measurable numbers to the issues of gender parity within the entertainment industry. As an active member of a few different “women in entertainment” groups, I was very happy to see this dialogue starting to gain traction on a larger scale, but I was curious to see if all of these studies, panels, interviews, and articles were having an actual impact on the day-to-day of women in the industry. I sent out an email asking just that and unfortunately received a barrage of emails recounting story after story that showed me that nothing was, in fact changing behind closed doors. I wanted to use the real stories I was sent because their specificity is, oddly enough, what makes them universal. We would like to finish the first season focusing on the entertainment industry, but following seasons will focus on other industries, as these issues are unfortunately prevalent throughout our culture.

Cynopsis: What is the benefit of the Women in Film partnership?

Iseman: Women In Film was the perfect partner for the launch of this series. With their dedication “to promoting equal opportunities for women, encouraging creative projects by women, and expanding and enhancing portrayals of women in all forms of global media,” our missions were in perfect alignment. I had not had any prior experience with the organization before this, but while I was developing the series, a not-so-little voice inside my gut told me to “share this with Meredith.” Meredith Riley Stewart, now a very dear friend and my producing partner on the series, was at the time a woman whom I had only met once at a film festival, which both premiered a film of mine, Wedlocked, and screened her digital comedy series Autocorrect FU. I had no idea that she was on the board of WIF’s PSA Production Program nor that WIF had been looking for a project just like this. After a series of progressively more specific and inspiring pitch meetings, Flip The Script got the green light and will now be Women In Film’s first ever digital series! The creation of this series, which addresses gender parity, provided the opportunity for WIF members on the crew to work directly with name talent and high caliber industry pros like our DP Cynthia Pusheck, ASC and our directing mentors Beth McCarthy-Miller and Jamie Babbit, thus making the production of this project a part of the solution to the very problem it addresses! I could not be more pleased with the result or more excited to see what the future will bring this partnership.

Vella MemeCynopsis: Was it difficult enlisting participants?

Iseman: One of the beautiful things about the process was the way in which the message of the series brought people together. Really the only thing that ever proved to be a challenge was scheduling. Both women and men wanted to help get this project made. And with the esteem of Women In Film’s name we were able to reach out to the caliber of talent, both in front of and behind the camera, that would do justice to the messaging and bring it exposure. The way we all came together on this project really showed us what the future looks like: inclusive.

Cynopsis: How are you using social media in the campaign?

Iseman: Social media is an incredible tool that can be used to unite people and spark cultural change. Women In Film and members of our cast who all have healthy social media followings will be sharing each episode. We have also built in the release of some digital assets to support each episode’s launch such as memes and GIFs. We want to encourage people to use this series and its images to create a viral conversation. While I was developing the series, a few sketches came out in a similar vein from powerhouses like Margaret Cho and the comediennes behind “Why Men Aren’t Funny.” I saw the momentary viral effect these videos had and I’m very glad they were created, but with the short attention span of the world these days, I am committed to Flip The Script being a series so that its impact doesn’t dissipate after the initial launch. I want to continue releasing episode after episode to keep these issues in the mainstream conversation until the series has made itself irrelevant and gender parity is no longer an issue.

Cynopsis: Why use humor with such a serious topic?

Iseman: I knew I wanted to add to the gender parity conversation in a non-antagonistic manner. I feel that real change only comes when you can bridge the gap from sympathy to empathy. Perspective is a powerful tool that can be used to frame an issue in a new light and humor is a great way to address triggering subject matter without attacking anyone. I truly believe that if you can make someone laugh, you can make them listen.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.

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