Saturday, August 22, 2009

Here we go again

Okay, so now that I'm done ranting about hatred of Lifetime Television, it's time for me to get back in the PR recapping game!

I'm going to try my best to be brief. Each year, there are just so many designers in the first episode, I feel like I'll never learn all their names or get a sense of who they are. The first episode is always so overwhelming, and then with the change to L.A. and starting with such a big challenge, yeesh.

Plus, I'll be honest I've just gotten off of a very draining project and I've gotten very little sleep this week. So rest assured that I will be back in full force and form next week!

I can't say that I like Althea, but this is a good dress. It's not a great dress, or even an innovative dress, but it's certainly one I could see walking the red carpet. But it's not one I could see getting a lot of press either.

Can't say I like the feathers on the top, but that's just not my style. I'm sure some people would like them and could pull it off.

I feel like Ari wanted to be this seasons "loveable oddball" or something. Or maybe she's just really from another planet. But she just felt to me like a poor man's Elisa Jiminez. Elisa might be a little wacky, but I loved a lot of her clothes and I could see they were just a little outside normal.

Ari...Ari was different. In another challenge this could have been a weird but okay outfit to put down the runway. But a red carpet challenge? This doesn't even remotely begin to work.

That said, I still think Mitchell should have gone home. Ari might have been out there and just downright strange, but at least it was complete and she didn't blame anybody but herself.

I really, really don't like this dress. The top is a complete mess, and the bottom doesn't feel like it was pulled together properly. It looks like what I would come up with if I was trying to recreate something a real designer had made.

I can't say that I'm as thrilled with this as some of the judges. It reminds me of something that would have been made out of trash bags and curtains in one of the alternate materials challenges. But it was cute, and fun. I just don't really care for the colors.

I can't really see this on a red carpet, but I can see this on a runway at Fashion Week. There's something really nice and bold about it. I love the color, I love the statement it makes. I really would have picked this one for the win, myself.

I don't like much about this one. I like the color, I like that she made something short and fun. But the top is just too much. It's also just sort of "meh."

I find this dress very pretty, but something about it feels more bedroom than red carpet. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe the color? It also really feels like I've seen it before. It's extremely familiar, and I can't place it. Hopefully some other blog will figure that out.

I really don't understand what the judges saw in this dress that they didn't see in others that weren't in the top three. It feels a little too loose and free flowing, so it doesn't really strike me as flattering in the front. The back is, of course, more interesting, and unlike the judges I love the color. But I really don't see what they were praising on this one.

I love the color of this dress, it reminds me of Andre's gutter water dress. But in the end, it's another one that isn't particularly noteworthy for any reason. For a red carpet challenge, there were a lot of forgettable clothes.

UGH. When they first showed Louise, I liked her right off the bat. The older Hollywood glamour look is the kind of thing that I really like. But this? This doesn't really fit that mold. The top is rather ill fitting, so it doesn't do the model any favors. The color does completely wash out, and I don't know that the two-toned idea was a good one in the first place.

But the bunches on the sides? It reminds me of women tying their skirts up so they can stomp on grapes or something. What is this look supposed to be? It just looks odd, it's bunchy, and it's a bad idea.

I can't help but like and dislike Malvin so far. He's a little pretentious, but I don't mind that he's about rejecting some of the stereotypes that I myself am tired of. But this isn't a red carpet look. It is a cute dress, and I like it, but it's not red carpet material.

Mitchell does not deserve to be on Project Runway.

Harsh words, I know. But the fact is that if he couldn't find a way to rescue his garment besides giving up and sending his model down in a sheer curtain then he shouldn't be there. To whine, on the Runway, that his model was six inches too big is, in essence, standing there and saying you failed because your model was too fat and that you can't be held accountable.

First, why in the world would a real fashion designer take a set of measurements on a card in so much faith that they would do a design that relied on those measurements being perfect? Whenever I go to sew anything, I measure MYSELF all over again. I don't even trust my own notes from the last time I made anything because bodies are constantly in flux. That was a rookie mistake, and for him to be so indignant and rude about it shows that he not only has less skills than he should, but he has no class or professionalism.

He should have been sent home.

The top is very interesting, I actually would like to wear it myself, but as a separate top and not a dress (I can't tell if it is a dress or separates and I can't recall). But I think it would be more elegant and interesting with a longer hemline or pants.

I wanted to like Qristyl, I really did. Mostly because unlike most designers on this show, she's willing to make clothing for women of realistic shapes (though "Plus Sexy" seems patronizing). But first there was the name, and then there was this dress.

It's just...unfortunate. What's the worst part is that those two fabrics are actually really nice. If she had made something with less of the pattern, using it just as an accent, and that gorgeous purple, without that weird bunching in the front...well, it could have been something. But instead, it was this.

I like the idea of this dress, but it doesn't seem to fit the model. I suppose since they couldn't measure the models themselves before they got started that can't always be helped, but it just seems to bunch and fold in odd places. Otherwise, it's a great idea, a great fabric, and it's very nice.

I don't know what red carpet this dress is supposed to be on. I just know that I want a copy of it. I'm not sure if I could pull off that cape, but I love everything about it. She used the natural flow and fall of the fabric to make something cut, fun, and gorgeous at the same time. I have a feeling I'll be rooting for Shirin.

Thanks for reading, and if you want to make sure to catch my recaps for this whole season, subscribe to my RSS feed! The link is at the bottom of the bar on the right.

In Defense of Lifetime

Before I get started on telling everyone what I think about the newest episode of Project Runway, there's something I need to address: Lifetime, Television for Women.

I think all of us have to admit that we have insulted Lifetime Original Movies, and the station in general. The Onion has skewered the channel brilliantly on multiple occasions. We love to talk about the melodrama and the bad writing. In particular, I am constantly talking about how whenever I end up flipping through channels I won't let myself stop on Lifetime because I get sucked into their movies and I end up losing two hours of my life. So that was why I was making fun of the new home of Project Runway, saying I must change the channel the second that it's over or I'll never move from my couch.

However, in the last few months I have heard several people talking about the work of women screenwriters, using the term "Lifetime movie" as an insult that reeks of more sexism than I've encountered in my small corner of the industry.

As I've mentioned before, I am a film student and a screenwriter. The moment I remember thinking that this was a problem was in my summer screenwriting course, when the professor told a student that she should add a male character to her story so that it wasn't "too Lifetime."

This particular treatment was fascinating, well thought, and had great characters. It had drama, it had emotion, it had risk, and it was heart-wrenching at times. But the main character was a women, and the point of the film was her dealing with an extremely traumatic experience in a war-torn country. The professor spent over a half hour trying to defend his statement, saying that "men don't watch movies about women" and the great gem, "I'm not saying this to be sexist..." If you have to point that out, most of the time, it means you ARE being sexist.

I was so angry about the whole thing, because it was the first time in my program I had encountered any sexism at all. Only the week before I had been defending the industry on Jezebel saying that while there is still plenty of sexism, that at least at my film school it wasn't something I had seen and the women there were being trained to not think about how they had the odds stacked against them, but to think about how to be the best filmmakers they could be (which is, incidentally, the best thing I can think of to combat the problems in the industry. Stop telling women they're going to fail, and give them the tools to succeed. Because there is no surer way to get someone to fail than to tell them they can't win).

Months ago, I entered a screenplay competition with a draft of my first finished feature script. Now, I want to be very clear on two things here:

1. I did not enter this competition expecting or even intending to win. I entered because it was free, and one of the benefits was getting a page of comments from "an industry professional." The fact that I wasn't a finalist isn't a sticking point for me. Actually, if that draft had actually placed I would think the competition wasn't very good, because it was not a draft that was ready, it was one I was stuck on and needed more critiques in order to improve.

2. The response that I received did have some valid points about my writing and the story itself. They weren't new ideas, and were all things my professor had pointed out, so I admit I was disappointed that I have no new insights on where to go from here, but not all critiques are perfect or insightful.

The problem is that amidst the comments was the well placed insult that my script was "more suited to Lifetime Channel programming than a feature film."

First of all: what exactly do they think Lifetime Original movies are? They are full length films made for television. Nothing in the rules of the competition stated that it needed to be a major studio motion picture for distribution in a million theaters.

The problem lies in the fact that people have a tendency to regulate any script that features a woman dealing with emotional issues as a "chick flick" or a "Lifetime movie." This is especially true if it isn't of the currently popular ilk of "career woman realizes she needs to be more emotionally open and find a man in order to be happy."

My particular script was trying to discuss real life issues in realistic ways. And I specifically wrote it to avoid melodrama and Hollywood stereotypes. Maybe I didn't succeed, that's a valid point to make. But to say that because my film deals with the breakdown of a marriage that it belongs on Lifetime is sexist. There is no other way I can break this down.

You might be thinking I'm too sensitive, that maybe they were saying I wrote it in the melodramatic way that people associate with the Lifetime originals of the 1990s. Maybe they were saying it was cliched?

But no, the sentence specifically said that the subject matter was what regulated it to "television for women" and that because of the SUBJECT ALONE it was not good enough for a feature film.

So what both my professor and the anonymous commenter are saying that movies about women, especially dramatic movies about women, belong only on a channel billing itself for women, because no one else can or should enjoy them.

This is downright ridiculous. Movies that my friends and I love often have female protagonists. Successful films can star women, and maybe the marketing people will tell you they usually don't but maybe that's because we're not giving good films starring women a chance. It's ridiculous when you think about it, we're creating self fulfilling prophecies for the sake of marketing. Art isn't supposed to be about marketing, and I know the film business is a business, but it's also an art. So let it speak like one.

And while we're at it, what IS so wrong with writing something for Lifetime? If Lifetime approached me tomorrow with a paying job writing for them, I would take it and I would call everybody I know to tell them about it. Because it would be a paid writing job, and because just because a television channel is aimed at women doesn't make it less of a television channel.

Most people make fun of Lifetime because of the melodrama. The abused women murdering their husbands, etc. And, let's admit it, the production quality can be pretty low sometimes. But they've left a lot of that behind. Army Wives is critically renowned, and everybody just seems to ignore the fact that it's on Lifetime. There are mixed reviews for Drop Dead Diva, but for the most part people agree that it's better than a lot of things on television today.

During the premiere of Project Runway, they advertised a film starring Joan Cusack. I don't know about you, but I think Joan Cusack is one of the most talented comedic actresses of this generation. I'll watch almost anything that she's in, no matter what channel it's on.

And let's address the big thing here: Project Runway. Obviously, that show is one of my absolute favorites. Lifetime is doing it justice, and Models of the Runway might need a little tweaking to be less reminiscent of "America's Next Top Model" but at the same time it was fun to get to know the girls a little more, and see their reactions to their designers and the eliminations. It was a good little show.

So maybe it's time for us to stop being so harsh to Lifetime, and maybe it's time for us to stop using it as a tool for sexism and to degrade and discourage female screenwriters.

When I started this feature, another girl in class was writing about almost the same topic. She said she was worried about it being "too Lifetime." My teacher (a much better one) responded that we shouldn't worry about that kind of thing, and be true. We should write OUR stories, we should create OUR characters, and that if we did that the piece would be the best that it could be. And if that happened, then really, who cared where it ended up?