Thems The Breaks is a feature documentary exploring the reaction last year to the lack of diversity in theatre. These events became known as Waking The Feminists. The Them’s The Breaks team includes director Sarah Corcoran, Producers Sarah Barr and Aoife Kelly and Writer Stephen Elliott. Mog Kavanagh put a few questions to Sarah Corcoran about the film.
Waking The Feminists initially started as a response to the Abbey Theatre’s 1916 Centenary programme. Can you give a bit of background to what the issues were and how people’s reaction created this movement?
I think Waking The Feminists had been threatening to erupt for years.The Abbey’s Centenary Programme was originally proposed as an opportunity for artists and audiences alike to reflect on Ireland’s past, present and its future. However when the programme itself was announced, its prime focus was on male driven plays, with only 1 in 10 plays programmed written by a female, and only 3 in 10 directed by a female.
I think we were all a bit confused by this originally but that quickly turned to indignation and led to huge online discussion including the now infamous ‘Them The Breaks’ tweet. The online discussion moved offline very quickly and the first #WakingTheFeminists public meeting took place on the stage of a sold out Abbey Theatre on November 12th. Since then, members of #WakingTheFeminists have been meeting with boards of various theatres across the country to ensure gender inequality is being addressed and change is being implemented.
The documentary is about the events that unfolded around this and the movement that grew out of it, what made you want to make this film?
Once we saw the passion erupting from the Abbey stage and its audience members back in November, it seemed like an obvious choice to make the film. There is no doubt that a significant movement is taking place and we think it’s important that this movement is documented.
We also think it’s imperative that people continue discussing the issues around it and that those who feel strongly about inequality feel the support around them and feel comfortable enough to speak out.As a majority female team of filmmakers, we’ve a vested interest in addressing gender inequality in the Arts.
Since #WTF, we’ve already started seeing a spillover into other areas such as the Irish Film Board announcing their six point plan to address the gender imbalance in Irish Film and we’re passionate about the impact it will inevitably have on other industries addressing gender inequality.
At what point did you start making the film? Looking at the website and social media it seems to be an incredibly well documented movement, is that related to the film?
We started conducting interviews almost immediately after the November 12th public meeting. We weren’t entirely sure of the direction of the film at the time but we sensed it was important to capture the passion and vigour of those involved.
I think the wealth of footage and content is down to the enthusiasm of everyone involved. Those editing the videos and updating the #WakingTheFeminists website are freelancers doing so in their free time, so it is a movement built on community.
We’re just happy to be documenting everything that’s going on.
The film and the movement predominantly focus on theatre, do you see it as also having wider relevance?
It absolutely has wider relevance. I think the hope is that feminism becomes a term used in everyday discussion and not something reserved for feminist events, and that those involved with funding, programming, hiring etc. across all industries reflect on their own practices and determine whether they’re fair and diverse.
How do you find working as a woman in film in Ireland? Have you any advice for others aspiring to do the same? In my experience I have found the female film making community to be an extremely supportive one. My advice would be to go along to as many female driven film events as possible and meet like minded people who might be interested in pursuing a film project with you.
There’s a Q&A with Irish filmmaker Rebecca Daly in the Lighthouse coming up and an event running in May in conjunction with the Hugh Lane Gallery with speeches from Artist Jesse Jones and Feminist Film Festival Director Karla Healion at the IFI. I think DIY filmmaking is also hugely important in the present economic climate. Tangerine has shown us that if you have access to an iphone you can make a Sundance level film!
The documentary is currently crowdfunding on Fund It, how are you finding that experience? Crowdfunding has been equal parts terrifying and exhilarating! Every time someone funds the film we feel a sense of support which is incredible, but at the same time if we don’t hit our target by the end of the crowdfunding window in early April we won’t get a cent so that’s quite daunting! It’s been great to network with the theatre community, the filmmaking community and with feminists all over the world through our social media and we’ve met so many amazing people along the way.
FundIt have been great too. They really supported the project from the moment we approached them and gave us great advice on crowdfunding, such as what perks to offer. We have a great selection of perks to offer funders such as a feminist themed panel discussion and a filmmaking workshop with the team!