26-year-old Holly Thicknes, is one of the co-founders of Girls on Film, a 4-strong femme film platform online and IRL for women-identifying people to showcase and celebrate their work. The platform, based out of the UK, aims to challenge the mainstream narrative surrounding film and filmmakers, which excludes diverse voices in favor of one resounding father figure that deals out labels, ultimately dampening the potential for creativity in the industry.
Girls on Film is completely not-for-profit, and relies on collaborating with organizations and artists who want to simultaneously showcase their work and support others. Girls on Film members review films, attend international film festivals, produce cross-art events and curate programs of films for brands. Ultimately, Girls on Film is a community attempting to dispel myths of girls-competition in favor of mutual elevation. Self-empowerment really turns them on.
Make Muse: What is the background story of Girls on Film?
Holly: Amelia and I founded Girls on Film because we thought a lot of the film press we were seeing was rubbish and boring. I wanted to poke the holes of the industry that was increasingly claiming to be diverse but just blatantly wasn’t - the founding structure of film was still in place, and the same people were making money from it. We started going to press screenings and sussing the situation out and quickly found there were many others who felt a disparity between the changing public image of the film industry and the stagnant reality of it. Our aim is just to offer platforms for different perspectives and encourage a less stuffy atmosphere, both online and in real life.
Make Muse: Are you in the film industry?
Holly: I work freelance production and direction assisting, as well as at a North London cinema that’s totally caught up in Living Wage strikes right now.
Make Muse: Tell us about your events. What kind of things do you host?
Holly: We host cross-art events that aim to film as a starting point for conversations about social and political topics that intersect with the art. We try and remain as open minded as possible when coming up with ideas for the next one - the format can be anything from workshops to live performances to catwalk shows (that last one we are still working on).
Make Muse: Who is the main clientele of your events? Do only women come? Are they all working in film?
Holly: The audience members are mainly women, but we welcome men, who make up about 30-40% of the audience, and we love it when they come to support the female artists. We are very happy to have a range of clientele in terms of age and race, amongst other defining factors, which is very important obviously. We’ve noticed that the audience often reflects the panelists so depending on who is speaking, that will have a direct effect on the types of people who come. I don’t think we’ve done very well in representing non-binary voices yet and we definitely need to be more proactive in education ourselves about how to do that this year.
Make Muse: You post regular interviews with female trailblazers in the industry. Who has been your favorite to feature?
Holly: One director that sticks out in my mind is Helen Walsh, who made "The Violators" a few years ago. She was the first person I’d interviewed who told me that, as women, we have ‘an inalienable right to tell the stories we want to tell,' exactly as they are, regardless of our sex or anything else. It started me down the path of not being trapped by so-called gender (stereotypes) or putting pressure on myself to be a certain way, whether that was a feminist or anything else.
Make Muse: To you, how do feminism and film intersect?
Holly: In my opinion, a film is the most powerful artistic medium for transforming people’s mentalities, so it has endless capabilities in terms of educating, raising awareness and ultimately changing society. To sit in the headspace of someone and live their reality - it can immediately change the way you think about something. It’s also instantaneously shareable around the world thanks to technology. Therefore, when you’re talking about inequality, it’s the most powerful tool we have that isn’t connecting with people one-on-one, in my opinion. Convincing people to go out and vote a certain way, or to vote at all, to be kinder or to listen to other people’s points of views, to imagine what it’s like to not have certain privileges… film can do that so quickly. It feels so real! It is real, in a warped way.
Make Muse: Do you have any words or advice for females who want to enter the film industry?
Holly: Look people in the eye and treat them as humans. Demand respect from them by giving respect. Instead of moaning about something that’s wrong, offer them a viable alternative.
Make Muse: You recently held an event for IWD. What did this event entail? How did you structure the event to celebrate IWD in particular?
Holly: It was wonderful! We were celebrating female athletes, namely footballers, by screening a short documentary called Who Moved the Goalposts, which was made by the founder of Goal Diggers Football Club. We curated a panel of speakers, hosted by Ro Jackson, who founded women’s sports online magazine SLOWE which is actively offering people an incredible and viable alternative to crappy sports mags that don’t report women’s sports properly. Also on the panel was Fleur Cousens, the director of the short, Mahalia John, the Director of Photography, and Katee Hui, who founded Hackney Laces. It was incredible to hear them speak and inspire the audience. We then screened Gurinder Chadha’s absolute classic Bend It Like Beckham and everyone was roaring with laughter - very interactive. We met some great female athletes that night and everyone was linking up - it was wonderful.
In terms of how it was special to IWD, it wasn’t any different from our other events, other than I awkwardly shouted ‘Happy International Women’s Day!’ on stage.
Make Muse: What is your rule #1 of being a Girl Boss…..
Holly: BE RADICALLY, UNWAVERINGLY, UNCOMPROMISINGLY YOURSELF. Even if you are soft and quiet - you can still be a boss.
Author: Maura Sheedy