As I write this, I’ve just returned from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where I saw exactly zero films. I was invited as a guest by a colleague of mine, as I have a few projects in development and Sundance is an excellent, albeit intense, place to do a lot of business over a short period of time. Which is why, as I write this, I’m exhausted.
I’m not just exhausted from travel and private parties and late nights and posing for pictures in front of all the different step and repeats – I’m exhausted from the many, many meetings and conversations that all seemed to center around one topic: the #MeToo movement.
And I’m exhausted that we are still talking about this. Because the fact is, in this year, 2020, #MeToo is just in its infancy. The open conversation around sexual harassment is only just beginning. And as tiring as it is – this is actually a good thing.
The problem is, sexual harassment is so personal, and that’s what makes it so tiring. Like most things that are hard, it’s easier in a lot of ways to just ignore the problem or minimize it, hoping that it will somehow go away. Because to actually stop and deal with it takes time and energy. And when you’re running a business and raising a family and trying to work out and get enough sleep and be all of the things a woman can be – stopping life to deal with a problem isn’t really an option. Until that problem becomes so big and so loud and so demanding that you have absolutely no choice but to actually stop and deal with it.
I was exhausted before I even went to Sundance, as I was dealing with a little #MeToo situation of my own for the ten days that preceded the event. This situation affected me, my business, and my family, and left me with no more than two hours of sleep a night for a week straight. I can assure you: exhausted is NOT the way to be when headed to an event that requires you to be “on” constantly as you’re talking to new people, day and night, about exciting new projects. But I mainlined Airborne and Vitamin C, wore a face mask on the plane, and prayed for the best. And I’m still here to talk about it. And I’ll get it figured out because that’s what we women do, right?
As drained as I was when I arrived in Park City, I was immediately filled with a creative energy I found everywhere I went at Sundance. The festival was replete with people who knew exactly who they were and what they wanted, and weren’t afraid to go after it. Sundance is a vibrant, creative bastion of like-minded people in film and entertainment and it seemed like every conversation I had was about women supporting other women in film, business, and life.
I met dozens of people from Artists United, Women in Entertainment, and so many other groups that support artists and independent filmmakers. I also attended a pitch competition of twenty-five independent filmmakers who had two minutes each to pitch their story. I was blown away not just by the breadth, depth, and creativity of the pitches I heard, but by the vulnerability each individual expressed in sharing their experiences, strength, and hope.
These were stories from real life, by real people. These were stories that need to be told. These were stories that require the storyteller to be simultaneously strong and vulnerable in the act of telling them. The act of people telling stories of their darkest, most vulnerable days are what give me strength. Because when I hear someone else tell their story, it gives me life. And it makes me realize, yet again, that the world has room for one more story: my story.
When people say they don’t like Hollywood because it’s shady, sleezy, and sexist – I get it. But I know from twenty-five years in business that Hollywood isn’t the only industry with an ugly underbelly. Hollywood is that way because it’s made up of people, and unfortunately, that’s how some people act when they have enough money and power to throw around and threaten with. When the headlines are filled with names like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby – names it makes my skin crawl to hear, let alone type – I have to remember the women who came forward and took the risks they took to share their own stories to stop these rich, powerful men from continuing to commit heinous crimes.
I have to thank these women for their bravery in doing the hard thing they did. Because being vulnerable and sharing their truth takes time away from their lives, and their families, and the businesses they’re trying to run, and it’s just plain exhausting to have to keep dealing with the issues related to sexual harassment. But sometimes, when you’re faced with an impossible situation – you have no choice but to suit up and play. And I happen to believe that the best woman will win.
So the conversation around #MeToo needs to keep happening as long as there are men who continue to see every woman as an opportunity. And when enough women can band together and no longer be afraid to say: NO. Not me. Not today – then we can stop talking about it. But as far as I can see, we’re not there yet. Far from it.
I was at Sundance to learn all the things I don’t know about an industry known for being shady, sleezy, and sexist. And I was there to meet with the many, many more people whose hearts are in the right place and want to do good work with good people.
And so, in spite of my exhaustion, I am full of energy. I am full of hope. I have dozens of business cards of amazing people I want to work with, and I’m confident that our paths will cross again in the near future.
I haven’t quite figured out the last chapters of my story yet, and that’s OK. I will. But I can fill you in on a little secret: she makes it in the end.
I would love to hear your stories, so please email me at Kris@martinezcreativegroup.com – I’d love to connect!
This article first appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of Enterprising Women Magazine. Please click the logo to go to Enterprising Women Magazine: