Producer and Actress Melanie Wise is the Founder of The Artemis Women In Action Film Festival, which will take place in Los Angeles April 24-26, 2015.
How long have you been acting and producing?
I’ve been acting and producing professionally for over a decade and I have produced three features and many shorts. One, an award-winning horror-action film, Hanah’s Gift is looking good to get released this year. In it, I play the role of Tyler, a suspended fire fighter who protects two small girls from two killers. The fight scenes were lots of fun!
How did you go from actress to a ‘Woman In Action’ advocate?
When I first started acting, I went out on the ‘standard’ auditions – for which I was very ill fitted! One day I auditioned for a TV show where I was to play a victim begging for her attacker to stop. I practiced so hard for that audition and finally came to the conclusion that no matter how much I tried, I was never going to be believable as a victim. And that realization inspired me to begin producing material with roles I was interested in portraying – roles that embodied strength and power – which were not very common a short time ago. Plus, I really love action and take special delight in doing fight action scenes!
What is so important to you about featuring women in action roles?
My endeavors have been a bit ahead of their time – when I first started moving down this road, women in action roles were seen as box office poison, even after the success of films like The Matrix. Over the last few years we are seeing an amazing, powerful trend in all media platforms – tough women are selling, and doing a very good job of it. Additionally, I have always been floored in seeing the results of the award shows as action, much like comedy, is completely taken for granted in terms of critical acknowledgement of actors. And finally, we are also seeing a shift on this front as well – over the last two years, a few women have been recognized at award ceremonies for the roles they portrayed in action films. Yay!
How did the Artemis Women In Action Film Festival come about?
My pursuit of creating films with powerful female leads in action roles is probably the most influential factor in wanting to do the festival. I want to see more of these types of roles in our filmed entertainment. I believe it is very long overdue as we’ve had women in action films consistently (not in great numbers though) since the 60’s.
How did you first get into action roles?
Part of my motivation for starting the festival was my background in fitness. I’ve dedicated many years to making women physically stronger for through fitness instruction. I quickly learned when women exceed what they think is possible for them physically, their horizons of what they believe is possible for them personally expand greatly. I trained all kinds of bodies of both genders, and I can say this: pound for pound, many women are stronger than men, have higher pain tolerances, and I’m certain that women can be as physically capable as men.
Action films were something that I gravitated to naturally since I stand six-feet tall and was heavily involved in sports and became licensed physical trainer. I’ve been a lifelong and passionate believer that physical strength for women is a means to promote gender empowerment, which I think will become greater gender equality. Until women are portrayed as physically equal, they will continue being seen as less than men, in my opinion.
What does Artemis mean to you as a women’s empowerment festival?
We have the power to affect the next generation of young women positively, how they view themselves, and broaden what they think is possible in life. We can convey the message that they don’t need to sit back and wait for someone else to take action for them. They can be the heroes of their own stories—not just in film, but in real life.
You focus not only on women celebrating women, but on both men and women who support women in action. Why is that?
Redefining how women see themselves will also redefine how they relate to men. Both genders suffer when one is ‘considered less’. To have a truly empowered male, I believe we need an empowered female to stand beside him. Both genders win when both genders move through life from a place of grace and power.
These philosophies are the heart of the inspiration for the Artemis Women In Action Film Festival. I want to celebrate images of female physical power and a greater sense of female empowerment.
What’s next for you and the festival?
What’s next on the festival front is finalizing all festival plans, putting the judges to work to judge all the submissions, and coordinating several panels. Once the judging is done, we then have to create the festival schedule. Additionally we will be looking for sponsors over the next several weeks as well. Those tasks should get us to the actual event. Then I’m probably gonna fall over for a while … as I’ve been working extremely long days and nights!
To learn more about the Artemis Women In Action Film Festival, go to artemisfilmfestival.com
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