She’s En Scene is a Glasgow-based community cinema, screening films made by women for women. Men regularly ask its founder, Amanda Craig, why they cannot attend. They want to watch films made by women too. They already are, she suggests, pointing to the plaudits bestowed upon the likes of Lynne Ramsay and Andrea Arnold.
In her experience, women are not talking about female directors or the technical stuff. That is where She’s En Scene comes in. “I did a screening of Prevenge by Alice Lowe,” she says. “A lot of women said, ‘I would never have watched this,’ but now they have and they’re like ‘she did that in eleven days while pregnant?’ I went to a Q&A screening and Lowe brought her child in, and when you see that you think ‘why aren’t women doing this? Let’s do it then!’”
Amanda embodies this ‘do it’ attitude. She remembers She’s En Scene taking off, with lofty goals in mind, wanting to achieve everything in six months. “But it takes pure loads of time,” she says, not without enthusiasm. While she might have hoped for everything to move faster, she never doubted the workload.
We meet to discuss her project, but what happens instead is a free-flowing stream of consciousness about the state of the industry. She’s En Scene was founded pre-#MeToo, the hashtag rally cry for those who have experienced sexual abuse while working in film. Weinstein may have bust open the conversational dam, but women have long known the industry’s multifaceted problems.
We talk about terminology. Camera operator vs camera man. In academia, Amanda says, it is always the former, the gender-neutral option. “If I hear camera man, I’m going to think that’s not for me.” Representation is at the heart of She’s En Scene. If you can see it, you can be it.
This year’s Oscars ceremony was the 90th instalment, and the first to ever feature a female nominee in the category of Best Cinematography. For 89 years, women have not seen it. In March, Roger Deakins took home the Oscar for his work on Blade Runner 2049 (2017), but it is Rachel Morrison’s nomination for her work on Mudbound (2017) that felt most like a success story.
We swing back to She’s En Scene. One of the films Amanda has screened is Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank (2009). It is a morally complex film about a teenage girl on a council estate. Angry and aimless, she strikes up a flirtatious relationship with her mum’s boyfriend. She is too young for him, he knows that, but the film does not have a moral sense of righteousness.
“Do you think,” Amanda says, “if you were in a mixed cinema, with men and women, that it would be a safe space for the topic of Fish Tank?” No, I don’t.
She’s En Scene meets in Govan, a predominantly working class area without the cultural capital of nearby Partick and Finnieston. Amanda strongly believes in the need for a cinema in the area, but acknowledges that, so far, the screenings mostly draw women from elsewhere in the city. Even so, it is bringing people into an area with an unfair reputation.
Just like women deserve to see films created by them, so too do people in Govan deserve access to art as much as those in the city’s bourgeois west end.
“It’s all about trying to tackle isolation” she says at one point, neatly summing She’s En Scene up. She wants it to be for the community, and to not cost too much. She wants it to be a safe space where women not only have a chance to talk about cinema, but to organise and plan their own projects too. She wants the community to shape She’s En Scene, and has no ego when it comes to new ideas. A friend suggested a potential name change in the future, to which she replied “you’re f**king right!”
It is an enthusiastic and exciting conversation. She’s En Scene will undoubtedly grow and grow with Amanda at its helm, and she is keen for it to shift and develop how it has to so that women take something from it. Whether it is a safe space to discuss cinema or it is a conversation that leads to future collaborations and creations, it is a community for those who have long been without one. If you can see it, you can be it, and thanks to She’s En Scene, more and more women are seeing it.