Sharp Light, Egg Rolls, and How an Indie Filmmaker Got Her Start

February 19, 2014

The advent of the Bechdel Test (which measures gender bias in film) was almost 20 years ago, yet women’s representation in film remains an issue begging for progress. We’ve seen some recently, thanks to frank and funny commentary from well-known women in the industry.

We’re thrilled to hear from another person making progress for women behind the camera. Dictynna Hood, a 1985–86 AAUW International Fellow, recently made big waves as the director of Wreckers, a feature film starring Claire Foy and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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We sat down with Hood to talk about what she’s been up to since she wrapped up her fellowship and returned to the United Kingdom.

AAUW International Fellow Dictynna Hood sits on a bench outside.“I have to confess that when I was at school I wanted to be an actress,” Hood admitted when asked about what first got her into her field. As someone interested in photography, drawing, theater, and other creative pursuits, she found that “these elements drew together … and pointed to film. Filmmaking is a wonderfully diverse art form.”

Studying in the United States was another formative step in her film education.

The two experiences — learning my craft and studying in America — are very intertwined for me. … [New York] is so utterly different to anything I have encountered before or since — the towers, the roaches, the backchat, the fairytale parks, the egg rolls! There is also the sharp angular light, so different to England’s watery skies, and the space — even in a city like New York, this light and space is apparent down the streets towards the rivers, and so stimulating to a filmmaker.

Speaking to the topic of women in film both in front of and behind the camera, Hood believes that the conversation should focus more on the audience.

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“The biggest cinemagoing audience in the U.K. is, I understand, women aged 30 and upwards, but you do not often hear of this as a significant audience,” says Hood. In some of her own films, including Wreckers, she keeps in mind the preferences of this audience, which often lean toward “environments and relationships rather than plot-driven narrative,” she says. Still, there is the issue of securing financing for the film — financers aren’t always interested in backing a film that targets an audience outside the mainstream.

In the sector that Hood works in — indie film — there are plenty of challenges regardless of gender, though the lack of women is certainly there. Her advice for anyone going into the business is straightforward: Have patience, stubbornness, and realistic preparation for the long haul. Hood has followed her own advice, creating films in a variety of genres and with different budgets.

What’s next for D.R. Hood films? She’s a little cryptic, giving us just this tease: “A girl with a gun in a desert.” If her past work is any indication, it will be a film worth watching.



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