"The more I read, the more I noticed that women in particular are treated terribly in scripts," producer Ross Putman tells PEOPLE
Hollywood producer Ross Putman is frustrated with the way women are described in film scripts, and on Wednesday he decided to do something about it.
Putman, who recently produced the indie film First Girl I Loved, vented his frustrations via Twitter, posting real-life excerpts from scripts that show female roles introduced more like objects than characters.
“These are intros for female leads in actual scripts I read. Names changed to JANE, otherwise verbatim. Update as I go. Apologies if I quote your work,” Putman wrote on a new Twitter account he calls @femscriptintros.
Putman has been noticing these clichés for years, but tells PEOPLE, “The more I read, the more I noticed that women in particular are treated terribly in scripts; there’s a real misogynist streak in a lot of screenplays, and it became an ongoing pattern that was hard to ignore.”
So he started compiling a collection of noteworthy descriptions a few months ago to keep a record. “I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with them,” he says. “My wife suggested I share them somewhere, and Twitter seemed like the place to do it.”
The purpose of sharing the lines, Putman says, “is to show people how women are often treated at the basic levels of filmmaking – as objects rather than people.”
The producer points out that if women are objectified from the first line of a script, “how can we expect it to get any better by the time the movie is finished?”
And while people might assume these misogynistic lines are mostly found in the pages of action flicks targeted at teenage boys, Putman says of the problem, “I think it’s everywhere. Films that feature testosterone-heavy action can do this, but so can small indie dramas.”
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Fortunately, the producer adds, “I don’t think it’s purposeful most of the time; I think it’s internalized from our cinematic past and from lack of awareness. Or at least, I’d like to hope it’s not purposefully malicious.”
Putman’s Tweets have been shared hundreds of times and garnered considerable media attention, a reaction Putman says he never expected. “I’m so overwhelmed by how quickly people have gotten behind the message here. I’m not posting commentary, I’m just posting examples – my hope was that they resonated with people.”
As for how long he plans to continue the project, he says he’s willing to go on as long as the message continues to strike a chord. “Honestly, it’s an experiment and so long as the message is connecting with people and I don’t get too many angry phone calls, I’ll keep posting.”
Ultimately, Putman says, “The goal is to keep people talking about important issues in our business and in the larger cultural landscape as well, so I’m very glad it seems to be serving that purpose. We all need to think about how we can do better; not just in the film business, but in the larger world.”