Reviews / Women Film-makers

#DirectedByWomen REVIEW- In A World: On vocal coaches, obstacles and the looming male presence

inaworld

I don’t have the slightest clue how or when I first saw the trailer for In a World… I know it was during the previews before something else I watched, but I couldn’t tell you what movie that was. Of course, at this point it doesn’t matter whatever the movie I watched that night was. What does matter is that the trailer for In a World..  drew me in so strongly that I knew I had to find it and see it. I added it to my book of “must sees”, but didn’t really have to, since the trailer alone left me with such a strong impression to begin with. For anyone that enjoys movies that’s not a title you’ll soon forget!

I’m sure you can all remember the man with “The Voice of God”, Don LaFontaine, who’s voice drew us all into watching countless movies, TV shows and commercials. He is credited with coining the phrase “In a world…”, which has gone on to be used so many times it’s now considered cliché. The film In a World… opens with a nice tribute to LaFontaine, who died in 2008, and is, (to some degree) a tribute to him.

In a World… is the story of Carol, a young woman who’s struggling as a vocal coach while trying to get into the world of voice over acting for film trailers and commercials. The trouble is that she has two seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the way of her dreams, her world famous vocal talent father, and herself.

This film is a rarity among the movie industry in that Lake Bell wrote, co-produced, stars in and directs it. Bell found that inspiration for the film began many years ago, when she noticed that, with the exception of the Gone in 60 Seconds trailer, voiced over by Melissa Disney, there was a deep and omniscient male voice behind every movie trailer out there. Bell was determined, the more she learned, to write a film that overcame this gender prejudice, and would prove that women can do great things if only given the chance.

In an interview, before the film was released in 2013 with RedEyeChicago.com, Bell had this to say about how men are used to voiceover most things these days, “To have a man do a tampon commercial would feel somewhat disjointed, but that’s because usually voiceover, the voiceover actor or presence, is talking to the very person who they want to be listening. So if it’s for tampons, it’s likely going to be a woman. That said, there is middle ground. The Emmys and the Oscars for instance, they have actually a female voice who announces the names.”

During that same interview, when Bell was asked about what other areas women need more representation, she had this to say, “Oh, I mean, [Laughs] there are still a handful of areas where women, where the statistics are unfortunately low for ladies. That said, I guess if we’re being topical then I would say the studio film system for female directors. There’s very [few] female directors. I think with independent filmmakers there are quite a lot of women, but I think that the studio system still has [very few].”

And although many people may never have given it much thought, Bell’s points are valid. According to a recent study conducted by The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film the numbers are bleak. “In 2015, women accounted for 9% of directors, up 2 percentage points from 2014 but even with the figure from 1998. In other roles, women comprised 11% of writers, 26% of producers, 20% of executive producers, 22% of editors, and 6% of cinematographers.”

But the problem doesn’t lie in the film industry alone. According to a piece Bloomberg.com did in March of 2014, “The reality is this: Men overwhelmingly hold the highest paying and most prominent kitchen jobs at ambitious, independent restaurants across America. Women occupy just 6.3 percent, or 10 out of 160 head chef positions at 15 prominent U.S. restaurant groups analysed by Bloomberg.”

The same sort of disparity can be found in the tech industry as well. A study done by The National Center for Women & Information Technology in 2013 says, “Women comprise 34% of web developers; 23% of programmers; 37% of database administrators; 20% of software developers; and 15% of information security analysts.”

Over the years more and more studies and analyses have been done about gender inequality, and more and more women are speaking up. I’m not sure about anyone else, but Lake Bell is the one who brought these issues to the forefront for me with her film In a World… It’s not that I didn’t realize that “it’s a man’s world,” it’s that it never dawned on me to pay attention and perhaps even do something about it. My thanks to Lake Bell and her wonderful film for opening my eyes.

Whether or not you’re interested in gender inequality issues, In a World… is clever, entertaining, funny, empowering and insightful. The cast Bell was able to assemble is mind boggling, considering this is her first solo movie. My hope is that she keeps up with the film side of her career, because if In a World… is any indication, we can expect more great things from her in the future. Lake Bell is certainly one to keep an eye on!

by Leah Gage


Me at Gaslight PartyLeah Gage is a 34 year old “kid” from New Hampshire. Her obsession with film started at the age of 4 with her boyfriend, David Bowie in Labyrinth. Since then, no matter the weather outside she’s always been up for a movie, either at home or in the theater. When not watching movies she enjoys hiking, boating, fishing and anything else that includes being outside with her husband and Beagle. While indie films have become her passion, some of her overall favorites include What Dreams May Come, The Science of Sleep, and True Romance.  She writes film reviews and articles at LeahsMovieLowdown.com and can usually be found tweeting things about movies @LMovieLowdown.

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