Business, Features

Time’s Up transforms film industry’s attitude toward assault

The dress code for the star-studded Golden Globes was a little different this year. Dozens of actresses wore black, symbolically telling Hollywood, “time’s up.”

The Time’s Up movement began after a multitude of men in Hollywood — and many other industries — were accused of sexual misbehavior or misconduct against their female colleagues.

Debbie Danielpour, a screenwriting professor in the College of Communication, worked in Los Angeles for a few years before leaving and continuing to work elsewhere. Danielpour said her experience was isolating.

“There was nobody to talk to,” Danielpour said. “You couldn’t just go to the producer who was also a white guy — they were all men, and anyone who was a woman didn’t have any power.”

In 2016, women accounted for 17 percent of behind-the-scenes positions in the top 250 films, a two percent decline from 2015, according to a study done by Women in Film.

“I feel a little guilty sending [my female students] off into Hollywood,” Danielpour said. “I think we should do a boot camp kind of thing, to get them ready for this because I know that their chances of getting their stuff made are half as great as the men.”

Danielpour is part of Women in Film, an international organization that supports women in the film industry and spreads their work. Alecia Jean Orsini Lebeda, CEO of Good Natured Dog Productions and president of Women in Film and Video of New England (WIFVNE), said changing the deeply ingrained mentality about assault will be difficult.

“I’ve gone through that thought of ‘okay I think I’ve been harassed’ and look back at conversations had or little stupid things that people have said,” Lebeda said. “And I guess everyone involved is so numb to it, like ‘okay, I’m expecting to walk onto a set and be abused’ and how do you change that mentality?”

WIFVNE encourages members to attend classes set up by SAG-AFTRA, a film union, about how to recognize when harassment is happening and how to speak up about it. Lebeda said WIFVNE’s encourages men to participate because “this problem is not a woman’s problem, it’s a male problem.”

On its website, Time’s Up promotes a GoFundMe campaign raising money for assault survivors to take legal action, which has raised over 16 million dollars.

Danielpour is moving to take action on BU’s campus.

“Our goal is to have every faculty member [in the Film and Television department] include our soon-to-be-written policy on sexual harassment in their syllabus,” she said, “and also to talk about it, in a forum sort of way rather than a lecture, on the first day of class.”

Lebeda said WIFVNE is working to create a hotline for assault survivors.

“Women in Film of LA has spearheaded a campaign for call lines,” Lebeda said, “and we are working on hooking into that system as well, so you can pick up the phone that moment and call somebody and talk to somebody.”

Julia Hess, a sophomore in COM and co-producer of the BUTV10 sitcom COED, said she’s grateful for the movement and the dialogue surrounding it.

“I’m glad that justice is finally being served and that in the media age more celebrities are able to use their platforms in order to speak out against it,” Hess said. “This is a super important topic that everyone needs to be talking about and making sure we all make a valiant effort to change how our society and Hollywood so this doesn’t happen again, for any and all workers”

With regard to BU’s campus, Hess said it’s important for the university to voice official support for Time’s Up.

“As a school, BU needs to be vocally on board as an advocate in the Time’s Up movement, stating they will not accept any sexual harassment or assault conduct in their workplace and classrooms,” Hess said.

Meanwhile, Danielpour advises her students entering the field to remain vigilant.

“If you find yourself in a power play with someone, using sexuality as the currency, you’ve got to talk to somebody,” Danielpour said. “We can finally push back about being taken advantage of, but I would also tell them to expect it to be aware of it and not to be complacent.”

Ultimately, Lebeda said, trust your gut.

“Know that how you feel is important. Don’t second guess that gut feeling.”

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