Hollywood Hullabaloo

The world was rocked last week by allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein and other members of Hollywood’s elite.

And by “world”, I mean “everyone not in the industry”. For those of us in the industry, it was just Tuesday.

Those allegations aren’t shocking to us. Hell, they’re not even news to most of us. We all knew what Harvey was up to. Anyone that says they had no idea what was going on is either adorably innocent, or lying.

And innocence has a short shelf life in Hollywood.

I never worked directly with Harvey Weinstein, but his predatory sexual behaviour was well-known, even as far away as New Zealand. Unfortunately, Harvey Weinstein isn’t the only one using his power and position to take advantage of the women he works with.

Almost every woman in the film industry – both in front and behind the camera – has her own Harvey Weinstein. Many of us have more than one.

For us, sexual assault is often the price of admission.

I worked with a guy on set. Lets call him “Doug”. Mostly because that was the fucker’s name.

Doug was the Executive Producer, and as such, he held the rights to the movie we were shooting in his sweaty, grabby little hands.

This made him untouchable – a sentiment he unfortunately didn’t extend to the women on set.

One morning, Doug decided that he should start the day by groping my breasts. There was no preamble. No flirty introduction to this. Hell, he didn’t even say “good morning.” He just walked up to me, and – before I could process what was happening – had his hands on my breasts.

What the actual fuck?!?

Did this happen behind the sound stage, where no one could see? No. Did it happen in a secluded area between two trailers? Nope. Maybe in the car park, where no one was around? Hell no. It happened smack bang in the middle of video village,* in front of dozens of people.

No one said a word.

No one could. No one was going to risk shutting down a $200M production that employed hundreds of people over something as minor as a little sexual harassment.

Other times, Doug would try to lure me into his trailer between set ups. Not at all surprisingly, I always had pressing business anywhere else whenever those invitations came up.

I wasn’t Doug’s main target though. That was reserved for our PA, Ashley.**

Ashley was young, sweet, and in no position to complain about the older man who kept trying to corner her in his trailer. By the end of the shoot, things had gotten so bad that the other PAs would cover for her whenever Doug was around.

But, other than the sexual harassment, Doug appeared to be a normal, older, married man. He was a born-again Christian who espoused the sanctity of marriage. He wasn’t what you imagine a sexual predator would look like.

This was confusing. Maybe he was just being friendly? Maybe I was reading too much into this? Maybe he was only inviting me into his trailer because it’s hot– oh, nope, he just groped my breasts. Definitely a creep.

A few days ago, I googled Doug to see if there were any whispers about his inappropriate behaviour.

There was nothing.

I was disappointed, but not surprised. I’ve always wanted to speak out about his behaviour,*** but it’s a risky move. It’s hard to be the first person to come forward, just in case you’re also the only person to come forward.

As I checked out Doug’s IMDb page, I noticed that he has another show in pre-production. Knowing that he’s going to be around other young women on set, I thought seriously about at least putting his full name in the blog post.

Part of me reasoned that, well, it’s been a decade, and he’s never going to stumble across a small blog run out of Canada, is he? Maybe I should just put it out there?

Another, larger, part of me pointed out that I have no proof and being sued for defamation, losing my job, and never working in this industry again would kinda suck.

Not surprisingly, I decided to err on the side of caution; there’s enough detail in this blog that others will recognise him if they’ve encountered him, but not enough to set off a google alert. Or a law suit.

I also reached out to a friend of mine who knows the production team on Doug’s new film. He’s going to give them a heads up about Doug’s behaviour so that hopefully he doesn’t get left alone with, well, anyone. Ever.

It’s not enough. It’s never enough. But hopefully it’s a start.

Doug wasn’t the first guy to harass me at work, and he wasn’t the last.

Hollywood has always been a boys club, run by rich, powerful men with barely any women at the top, and a tolerant atmosphere for creative people who don’t want to play by society’s rules. Everyone’s too scared to rein in the industry’s excesses, in case it somehow also reins in its successes.

They’ve excused rampant drug abuse as he’s just such a tortured artist, he needs drugs to cope. They’ve allow temper tantrums on set because he’s under so much pressure to realise his vision. They’ve let people get away with sexually assaulting women because they’re afraid if they try to stop it, they’ll lose the golden touch that brings in the box office.

All this in an industry that is infamous for its poor representation of women in media. Is it any surprise, when movies treat women like disposable objects, to find out that the men making those movies behave the same way?

But, it finally seems like things might be changing. With so many woman standing up and recounting their tales, maybe the industry will start to acknowledge and address its systemic problems.

I hope this doesn’t die down in a month.

I hope that the industry doesn’t think “well, we fired Harvey, so we’re good now, yeah?”

And I hope that women entering the industry now don’t have to put up with this bullshit any more.

 

* Where all the monitors are set up, a place second in popularity only to the Craft Services truck.

** Her name has been changed, not to protect the innocent, because it was a decade ago, and I’ve forgotten it. Look, I’m sorry, but it was a large crew, and apparently I’m a terrible human being.

*** Partly because it’s really not cool to sexually assault your employees, but also because his religious hypocrisy annoys the hell out of me. Don’t give me shit for living with my boyfriend outside of marriage, and then try to lure me into your trailer for a quick grope while they swing the lights, you two-faced fucker.****

**** Okay, yeah, I’m still a little mad about it.

 

Advertisements

6 comments so far

  1. Charles on

    “I’ve always wanted to speak out about his behaviour, but it’s a risky move. It’s hard to be the first person to come forward, just in case you’re also the only person to come forward.”

    Look…. I’m sorry this happened to you, but this right here (text quoted above) is KEY to the systemic problem. It’s part of the enabling behavior. Please… I beg you…. please reconsider and out this scum bucket mother fucker. He should never work again.

    YOU should work again and again, Vagabond Kiwi gal. You should!

    #endsilence #outpredators

    • vfxvagabond on

      Thanks for commenting!

      As much as I would really love to name this fucker, unfortunately that carries with it a lot of risk.

      Right now, it’s my word against Doug’s, and the burden of proof in our legal system is on the accuser. I have no proof, just personal anecdotes from a decade ago. Maybe others from the shoot would come forward to speak out, but if they didn’t, speaking up without any hard proof or corroboration puts me in a very exposed position.

      The most likely outcome would be to be branded a troublemaker, and not be able to find work. No one would tell me that they’re not hiring me because of the accusations, but I would watch job after job go to someone else. Someone who doesn’t cause any problems.

      Historically, this is how the film industry has always punished those who have spoken out, from union organizers, to people shining a light on unsafe working conditions. Hell, even three years ago, a woman was struck and killed by a train on set because no one wanted to call out the unsafe work conditions. (Since then, a movement called “Slates for Sarah” has taken off, focusing on letting people speak up against unsafe working conditions without fear of reprisal.)

      Additionally, Doug could decide to sue me for defamation – and believe me, he can hire a way better class of lawyers than I can.

      The key to this systemic issue is NOT the women who keep silent out of fear of losing their jobs. It’s the culture that uses that threat to silence people. It’s the culture that considers this a nuisance, rather than abuse. It’s the male-dominated environment that excuses this behavior as “boys will be boys.” It’s the industry that sexualizes women for profit.

      I agree, this fuck-face shouldn’t get to work again. Unfortunately, he owns the rights to a popular, profitable franchise that studios are going to want to make. He will work again. What I can do is make sure he doesn’t get the chance to prey on anyone else. And keep paying my rent. My landlady is a big fan of that.

      • Charles on

        Kiwi gal, I hear you a hundred percent. I don’t mean you or any victim is responsible for the actions of these predators. I mean the systemic aspect of this problem is a problem fostered by the entire system.

        I’ve seen post after post by victims that conclude so similarly that they cannot out the people who’ve done this to them because they are afraid. Afraid to lose their job, their income, their reputation, their careers.

        What I mean by “this is key” to the problem, is that the fear the system intentionally makes you and other victims feel is a part of this cycle that will not stop until somebody takes action and stands against it.

        I will stand against it. I will stand with you. I will never allow this to happen on my sets (I’m a writer/director). I will defend all accusers of their right to speak up without penalty. I will never assume anything. I will always take accusations seriously. I will never be dismissive of them. I will defend your right to name this prick. I will hire you to work on my projects. I commit to defend you in anyway that I am capable.

        But I cannot prevent this asshole from doing this again. Only his victims and his enablers can.

        And if the answer is…. well we can’t because….

        Well… we’re fucked. And this ain’t ever gonna end. You see the hopelessness of this cycle right? There’s no out.

        A change must happen.

        There must be another way. A safer way to out these pricks. A safe place where the accusations could be brought together, collected, and when it’s clear that director x has many accusers, then all the accusers are contacted and requested to speak en masse. Safety in numbers. And lawyers would be in place to protect the accusers from lawsuits.

        Let’s make this happen. What do you say? Would this work for you? Would this allow you to feel safe?

      • Charles on

        And if it’s not clear, I am f*cking horrified by the pervasiveness of this behavior in the industry. I can’t believe it’s not only been allowed and enabled, but apparently almost encouraged. There is some deep rooted sickness that needs to be rooted out of filmmaking. Every single one of these abusive human beings should be behind bars.

        Not cameras.

      • Charles on

        And thanks for replying! 🙂

  2. Charles on

    Great post btw!! Loved it. Thank you for sharing your story. The more people who talk, the safer we will all be.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: