Point of View

This is what happens when you hire an entirely female crew for your film

Filmmaker April Mullen writes about her experiences making 'Below Her Mouth,' out in theatres this weekend.

Filmmaker April Mullen writes about her experiences making 'Below Her Mouth'

The crew of Below Her Mouth shoot on Lake Ontario. (Sophie Giraud)

Rather than just talk about the underrepresentation of women in film, we decided to do something about it with Below Her Mouth. The goal was to bring to life an honest depiction what it's like to experience desire, love, intimacy, sex and heartbreak from a female's perspective — so we decided to assemble an all-female crew.

It was initially a challenge finding women in all departments, but word spread quickly and we were able to fill all positions — and thus the journey began. We wanted to allow the women in each creative position to bring their voice to the film, which really was key to what we wanted to achieve with Below Her Mouth.

A scene from Below Her Mouth. (Sophie Giraud)

Female desire is seldom represented in film and television from a sincerely female perspective. 99 per cent of my exposure to sex in film and  television has been written by a man, directed by a man and made predominately for male audiences. And I admit that as a result, I struggled heavily with the idea of trying to stay true to my inner sense of sexuality. I had to constantly remind myself to forget all of the "movie sex" I had seen up until making this film. I had to reflect inwardly on what made an impact in my life and what made me want to be physical with another person — that was what I wanted to bring to the screen. And for that to happen, everything had to come from within for not just me but the entire crew.

I believe the results of having an all-female crew can truly be seen on the screen. We were each able to bring our raw sensibilities to our craft, which included an enormous amount of heart and courage. Each key creative brought their personal touch to their department, and we were able to create a wholly supportive environment for our lead actresses Natalie Krill and Erika Linder. On set, women were able to stay true to themselves, and the voice of the film became so much stronger and more honest because of that.

The crew setting up on the set of Below Her Mouth. (Erin Simkin)

I am so proud of what we achieved with Below Her Mouth. The thin lens, zero filter and female gaze can be felt in every frame. This crew brought to life a feeling of being a part of something bigger than the film itself. It was important for us to all expose ourselves, our fears, our comforts and our strengths in order to be creatively transparent. I hope this helps set a precedent for what can be achieved with an-all female crew — and that this shows that it is up to us to be the change we want to see. Rather than being daunted by the low percentages of women in film, we must take action and celebrate the women who are working in key positions of power so future generations can witness the possibility and reach for more.

April Mullen is the director of Below Her Mouth, which is being released in theatres across Canada on February 10


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