Hi lovelies. Today in the Local Ladies series, I want you to meet Cailleah Scott-Grimes, director of girl gamer documentary, She Got Game. This film is the story of a young woman searching to reconnect with the world of video games, a world that seem prominently dominated by men. But there are a so many female gamers out there, and that fact is made loud and clear in She Got Game.

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Cailleah was so sweet in agreeing to be a part of this series, and I was so keen to interview her because her movie is a part of the Geekfest Film Festival, the first and largest Comic Con Film Festival. This September, it makes a stop at FanExpo in Toronto, and She Got Game will be screened amongst other incredible films. Check out the trailer below, and their website for more details. Cailleah was such a delight to interview, so let’s hop right into it! Update: She Got Game was also the Feature winner of Geek FilmFests at Fan Expo Canada 2016. Congratulations, Cailleah and everyone else who worked on She Got Game! 

Tell the readers more about She Got Game and what creating a documentary about female gamers means to you.

When I first started making this film, I wasn’t sure what story I wanted to tell. All I knew is that I had loved games as a kid, but had completely lost touch with that world as an adult. The more I looked for other women gamers, the more I ran into sensational media about why it’s horrible to be a woman in the industry. I thought, How are we ever going to get more girls into gaming if all they hear about is how it leads to death threats? Surely that couldn’t sum up our experience. Without really knowing where I was headed, I just started filming shit with a friend. The result is a personal adventure story about searching for belonging in the gaming world and about connecting with women who are changing the way we think about games.

I was told that this film was too niche for public broadcast, and that my personal story had no business in the film. But these are the things that I love about it. I want you to watch this and think that could be me. You want to make a game? Do it. You want to make a film? Do it. I’m proud to say that She Got Game found a home on Air Canada, Bell TV, Cinema Politica and at Fan Expos and Comic Cons across North America. (Come watch it with me at Fan Expo in Toronto this September!)

A big part of this series I’m doing is about being vulnerable and being comfortable asking for help. What was the Kickstarter process like for you? Was asking for help in putting this project together difficult?

This question is spot on. In fact, I talk directly about this problem in the film. I didn’t feel this way when I was trying to raise money, but I was extremely afraid to ask for help making the film. It was my first major project after university, and I felt like a Master of None. I was trying to be the “strong woman” who was capable of anything and I made a tidy list of excuses:

I don’t have the budget to pay people. I wouldn’t do it for free. Why should someone else? (I did pay myself to make this film. About 20 cents an hour.)

I don’t trust other people with something I’ve poured so much time and energy into. They won’t understand my vision. (People offered me help and I didn’t follow up on it.)

–and ugliest but most truthful–:

I can’t ask for help because then people will know how little I know about filmmaking and video games.

I tricked myself into believing I was being strong, and it’s hard as women because we know that our skills will be dually scrutinized and doubted. But there’s no heroism in taking on tasks that you resent, just to prove that you can do them. To return to the Kickstarter process, this was actually one thing that kept me going. I can’t recommend crowdfunding enough. The money will evaporate immediately, but what you’re left with is a deadline, a plan, accountability, and a group of people who are excited and waiting for your art. That’s a good kind of help to accept.

What steps do you think we still have to take to create equality for women in the gaming (and general geek) community?

There’s a lot of discussion about this and a lot of it revolves around the need to hire more women and to create more diverse characters. I totally agree, but on a more individual level, I would love to see us ditch the toxic habit of what I call Fan Policing. When we’re really stoked about something, there’s this weird feeling that comes over us like we own it. Secretly we all hate that chick who says she loves Lord of the Rings and has only seen the movie.

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I know that most of us have felt like outsiders in the geek community, but it makes me so sad that we make people feel stupid for liking something. I think that’s absolute horse shit. One woman I interviewed for the film confided that she had gone to an all-women’s meetup about coding for games, and instead of feeling like she’d found her people, she said it was so cliquish that she never went back. So I want this to change.

On the flipside, I think women’s passion and excitement is contagious! I bet that even your girlfriends who “don’t like gaming” could be convinced if you were the one to introduce her to that world, rather than random dudes on the internet.

Have you ever struggled with having people deny your geeky personality because you are feminine? Or been told by someone you only “like certain things for attention”?

I wouldn’t really say that people denied my geekiness, but I would definitely say that displaying femininity has been a struggle at work (currently working as a documentary editor). I constantly get comments on my appearance and about how “young” I look for my experience level. I get a lot of basic things explained to me. When I did the Kickstarter, people also told me I didn’t look like a geek and that I was a poser. I figure not matter how I look, people will feel the need to complain about it or discredit me. My partner offered to start filtering online comments for me, so I could just read the good or constructive ones. This has been awesome!

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As a female filmmaker yourself, why do you think there is such a lack of women being represented in the film industry? And what steps can we take to change this?

How many of you watched Making a Murderer and assumed it was made exclusively by dudes, only to find out it was made by a lesbian couple!? Amazing. I think that mainstream studios are still in the Stone Age of realizing what women can really do and what we’re interested in. My answer to this question is a bit akin to the previous one—there’s lots of discussion about sexism on the industry, but I’m always looking to find out what we can do on an individual level. My girlfriends and I came up with the solution of hiring each other as much as possible. I’m currently working on 2 projects which have 99% female production teams! And luckily this is also happening higher up the food chain with groups like Film Fatales.

In this series, I’m talking to everyone about self-care and taking time for themselves because I find female entrepreneurs brush that aside all too often. And it matters! What self-care habits or rituals do you have?

I’m not a meditator or a yogi. There’s no secret sauce to my method of working. But there are a few ways in which I’ve tweaked my perspective over time, and they’ve had an enormous impact on my overall wellbeing. First of all, if the critics or the trolls are getting you down, you have to listen to this brilliant talk by Brene Brown on Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Matter. This changed me.

Another thing that’s been so important is learning how to be my own compassionate boss. I used to think, “The Nine-to-Five and I are a 0% match. Working in the same place with the same schedule every day is like voluntary jail.” I thought that freedom was being able to hang out in a coffee shop all day and feel pleased with myself that I wasn’t in an office. But then I’d confine myself to a 12-hour editing session, crouched over the computer like a goblin. If anyone else had dared impose that schedule on me, I would have quit on the spot. So I decided to write out a list of the things that my dream boss would let me do. And now I have hour-long lunch and Netflix breaks and always tell clients I’m booked on Thursdays while I hang out at the art gallery. My mom said it best: “Never accept work that you wouldn’t dream of asking someone else to do.” I’m still learning to live by that advice.

Thank you to Cailleah Scott-Grimes for participating in the Local Ladies series! Be sure to check out the She Got Game website for more information on the film.

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