There is a documentary film on gender currently running a Kickstarter campaign that feminism would prefer never sees the light of day. You may be imagining some amateur film made by buffoons bumbling their way through a hit piece on feminism, but you’d be well off the mark. The film is The Red Pill, by self-professed feminist Cassie Jaye.
Jaye has some heavy-duty credentials: she won two awards at international film festivals for her 2010 documentary Daddy I Do and sympathetically covered gay marriage in a second well-received documentary, The Right to Love: An American Family.
Jaye describes her latest project, The Red Pill, as “a fly-on-the-wall film about men’s rights activists.” But, she says, at some point during filming the process morphed into her journey through ideologies opposing feminism. What makes the film unique is that it will document her “chipping away at long held beliefs, as my worldview changed within the first month,” a process captured, she says, through video diaries which will be included in the film.
The name of the movie is internet slang, taken from the Matrix franchise. It describes the process of “waking up” and accepting reality, even if it is hard to do, or you are presented with facts in direct opposition to closely-held beliefs. Jaye intends her movie to include a “where am I now” section to discuss how the film-making process has changed her personally.
The underlying suggestion in all of this, of course, is that she has come to sympathise with the men’s movement and jettisoned a lot of received feminist wisdom.
As a result, Jaye has seen her funding dry up. One observer told Breitbart that grants and funding have been withdrawn and institutional support revoked.
Jaye is concerned about funding the film with angel investors, who she says often want creative control: “We weren’t finding executive producers who wanted to take a balanced approach, we found people who wanted to make a feminist film.”
The second option was funding via grants. Jaye says, “I started to see the bias towards women’s films and against men’s. There are no categories for men’s films though there are several for women and minorities. I submitted the film to human rights categories, and was rejected by all of them.”
According to Jaye, her sincerely-held opinions on the men’s rights movement have made her movie almost unfundable and support has dried up: “Films that support one side and act as propaganda do better than those that try to have an honest look. I won’t be getting support from feminists. They want a hit piece and I won’t do that. ”
Jaye also ran into stumbling blocks during production. “I started to invite feminists to be interviewed for the film, making up about 25 per cent of the interviews scheduled,” she explains. “We had a popular feminist author who was scheduled to be in the film. After we drove down to Los Angeles, she cancelled the night before claiming she felt ‘unsafe.’”
Jaye also had a paid animator drop out of the project because he didn’t want to be part of a project that sympathised with the men’s rights movement.
The most telling evidence that she plans to produce a balanced documentary using facts to show both sides of the argument is her experience with interns: “I’ve also had interns, including a gender studies major. One girl in particular had a lot of crying attacks and emotional experiences. She claimed everything I was showing her was triggering her.”
Several of the interviewees filmed for the movie are hopeful that Jaye will produce a fair presentation. Paul Elam from men’s rights organisation A Voice for Men told Breitbart: “I think she is on the up and up about making a fair film. A bit of anecdotal evidence for that is her lack of funding. I have been in communication with her for some time and I find her version of things, that outraged feminists have abandoned her, credible and consistent.
“It makes sense to me that feminists would be pissed at her for giving people like me a platform,” he said. “Her previous two films took on controversial subjects and were done objectively. I don’t see anything to indicate that she is changing that course for this movie, but I also know that she is young and has never faced anywhere near this sort of pressure or social ostracism.”
Fellow interviewee Dean Esmay agrees: “Cassie’s film will not see the light of day without substantial anti-establishment support. I expect feminists to do everything possible to shun her and my observation was that she was being ‘Mean Girl’d’.”
“This is a talented woman with two very well made and well received professional documentaries under her belt. How could they not support her even if parts of this might make them uncomfortable?” he questioned. “But honestly they’re going to have to be shamed into that, they absolutely will not support the film otherwise. I firmly predict that even if she gets the funding there will be efforts to sabotage her in the indie documentary distribution chain. I would almost guarantee it.”
Based on her fundraising problems, Jaye says she realised, “There was no way to finish the film without a Kickstarter campaign,” a process she says she has found fascinating. She has found resistance, however: “People that are mistrustful and don’t know the message of the film, that this will be a balanced look at the issues.”
Another source of resistance, she says, are, “People who don’t know anything about the men’s rights movement. The most common reaction amongst feminists is, ‘why are you giving them a platform to speak?’ I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard that. Yet there are documentaries about the Westboro Baptist Church and about skinheads, yet they are so fearful of this topic, and I’ve started to figure out why.”
According to Jaye, without a successful funding campaign the film might not be made at all. “This film has been a journey that didn’t happen overnight. I hate the idea of it being shelved and collecting dust,” she says, adding that if it were still made, it would take 3-5 years without funding, after already being in the works for two and a half. The Red Pill campaign is currently at $26,500 against a $97,000 target, and will accept pledges through November 11.