It’s no secret that we think teenage girls are powerful and badass and a legitimate force to be reckoned with — and Rachel James agrees. That’s why she wrote Big Bad Wolves, a narrative film that follows a Brooklyn girl gang as they get caught up in some shady activity, fiercely protecting one of their own all the while. This week, we spoke with Rachel about the film and her feminism and why she does what she does.
Introduce yourself! Tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m Rachel James, a screenwriter and director based out of Brooklyn, NYC. I’m also a video production teaching assistant at Barnard, a sometimes Assistant Director and production designer, and I produce a podcast called Positively Gotham Gal.
How do you define feminism and how does that play a part in the work you do?
Feminism is a basic determination to have equality between genders, but for me it’s also a rejection of traditional symbols in art and in a social context that objectify women against their consent, and inhibit their ability to navigate the world with the same sort of freedom and ease that men do. In its most reduced form it’s, ‘don’t call me babe or sweetheart, and try to really listen to me when I’m speaking.’ This plays an enormous role in the work that I do. I don’t think I can honestly say that I’m able to separate myself or my work from my feminism, it defines my worldview and my perspective as a human being, and an artist.
Why is Big Bad Wolves an important story to tell? Why should everyone support it?
This film is going to be a lot of fun to watch, and that’s important because of what it’s trying to accomplish. If I can get a middle-aged, conservative white male to identify with the fury of a teenage girl of color, then I’ve done something revolutionary, and if they’re experiencing that identification because of the storytelling and the entertainment experience, to me that’s extra revolutionary, and exactly the sort of thing cinema has the capacity to accomplish.
If you could give one piece of advice to other female filmmakers making social impact films, what would it be?
Write down the original intent of your film somewhere you won’t lose it, because that initial germ of the idea can really get lost as you continue to get notes and add more elements and people to your project. The one thing you shouldn’t lose sight of is what you were trying to say and what you want to achieve with your audience with the work in the first place.
How can we follow and support your work & Big Bad Wolves?
Well the best way right now is to check out our Kickstarter! We’ve got some fun rewards and definitely need support to make the film and make it right. But really we’re interested in building a community around the film and welcoming a wide array of people into the “wolf pack” so they can take this journey with us. if everyone who likes the idea donates even just one dollar and stays up to date with us, watches the film when it’s finished, and looks forward to the feature getting made, that’s a dream come true for me. You can also follow us via our website, www.bigbadwolvesmovie.com, and on Facebook, Instagram, tumblr, and Twitter.