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#CastingCall, The Project - Exposing the #Misogyny of Casting Calls

Last week we reported on the Jane Test, a Twitter page which posts descriptions of female characters in screenplays to illustrate how unfairly weighted towards appearance and sexual proclivity they often are. It would be bad enough if the scripts were the root of the problem, or even the most prominent evidence of it, but as it turns out, this unacceptable misogyny often bubbles to the surface even sooner - during the casting call phase.

While it's true that casting agents do need to give a clear idea of what their actors should look like, and 'man' or 'woman' isn't anywhere near clear enough, things can easily shift from understandably specific to undeniably sexist on a dime. A Tumblr page called Casting Call Woe has existed for a few years now, operated by a London-based actress known only as 'Miss L'. Typically, she types out the call quotes verbatim and formats them to look like cheesy inspirational posters, which only serves to make them even more alarming.

The page has a strong following, but recently it was granted a major boost. 3 New York creatives - Julie Asriyan, Laura Bray, and Jenna Ciralli - caught wind of the page and used it as the inspiration for an all new venture: Casting Call, The Project. Apart from exploring new and exciting avenues of title grammar, the project is designed to open up further discussion about the way women are treated in the arts, and encourage them to deviate away from these sexist paradigms by working with each other, instead of with people who only care about how they look.

Disclaimer: This video contains some strong language.

The opening salvo was a video which features actresses and other creatives reading some of these casting calls to camera, and judging from the way they react, it's their first time hearing them as well. Most of them laugh it off, or at least try to, but you can see how upsetting it is for many of them to be reminded how commonplace this kind of material is.

This kind of content has a proven track record, as it approaches the issue in an amusing way but doesn't let the humour detract from the point being made. It's abundantly clear throughout that the women reading the quotes have to deal with this kind of thing constantly, and I can scarcely imagine how dispiriting and crushing that must be. It's not that others didn't know that already, but the video almost acts as an invitation into a wider forum on how to improve the situation, by creating a new creative network that shuns and mocks the old, insulting one. I'm interested to see where the project goes next.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#CastingCall, The Project - Exposing the #Misogyny of Casting Calls Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, March 06, 2016 Rating: 5
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