photographs courtesy of the whatcom museum
"JUST LIKE THE MEN"
Our biggest, and arguably most exciting film project that we are currently working on hits on all the levels; all of them. If you live in Bellingham, or think we need more women in film, or heck, if you enjoy a great story, then read on to learn about...
Aside from being the first Poet Laureate of Washington state, an internationally published writer, and a famous figure among the Bellingham elite, Ella Higginson also wrote screenplays. Never heard of her? Neither did we. Sadly, the majority of Whatcom County remembers little of this prolific writer. Why this amazing woman fell into obscurity resonates deeply with the status quo of women's involvement in modern day film-making.
Just Like the Men, is Ella's screenplay (complete with a shot list) written in the era of silent film. In essence, it is a romantic comedy depicting the first woman elected into Legislative Office in Washington State in 1913 and her very clever campaign manager. Ready for the kicker? It’s all true. Ella Higginson was the campaign manager for Frances Axtell, one of the first women elected to legislative office in the state. Pretty neat, huh?
Upon completing her script, Ella contacted her editor in New York, who sent the screenplay to Mary Pickford. Why Mary Pickford ultimately turned it down, we can only speculate; it was a progressive topic given the time, and not what you'd call a "cash cow." A stranger to rejection after experiencing so much success in her other writings, Ella shelved the screenplay sometime after 1913, not to be touched again until 2015 when Laura Laffrado, Humatities & Social Sciences professor at WWU, began the revival of Ella’s prolific body of work. After meeting with Laura for an unrelated project, two of our members from Talking to Crows were told of this secret script sitting in the archives, untouched.
Needless to say, we were very into it.
So here we are, two female filmmakers, picking up where Ella left off. The metaphor here is not lost on us: the story of a woman in charge of her own creative vision, and failing, is also the story of us. It is the story of any woman taking control in a patriarchy.
We know going forward that this is so much bigger than us. This is Washington’s political history, this is the importance of propagating female legacy, this is what gets us out of bed to make films.
Drawing on our own experience as theater performers and comedians, we knew that we wanted to adapt Just Like the Men in the spirit it was written: a comedy. We struggled to incorporate a direct adaptation of her work--Ella’s incredible personal story, and how it all came together--without stepping into dry-documentary territory. We believe comedy to be a powerful storytelling tool, and it’s clear Ella did, too. So this is the route we have taken: executing Ella's vision, just 100 years later.
And this is where you come in.
If you feel there's a lack of a female leaders in our mainstream media, if you are passionate about preserving history, if you want to change the status quo, then contact us to find out how you can help this film succeed.
We are a passionate, and unapologetic female-majority owned production company: help us remember Ella, and help us stop forgetting the women that come after her.
Copyright Talking to Crows LLC 2017