Producer Miranda Bailey (above on the right) has helped bring you films like The Squid and the Whale and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. She’s also built quite a resume as an actress and a director, but it was while she was wearing her producing hat that she noticed a dearth of female film reviewers. Some of the work she was putting out into the world was being received and processed by male reviewers in a way that kind of… missed the mark.

Their perspectives weren’t wrong, but they were definitely coming from a different place than a female reviewer would be, and that inspired Miranda to co-found CherryPicks with GURL.com’s Rebecca Odes (above on the left).

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CherryPicks is a website that highlights reviews and original stories exclusively from female-identifying and non-binary writers. Miranda’s hope for it, beyond wanting movie audiences to have a resource for film reviews by women, is that aggregating these reviews will help elevate films and filmmakers that might otherwise fail to connect with audiences and financial backers.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Miranda to learn more about CherryPicks.com, the fruit of her labor, and whether she’s seen improved gender parity in Hollywood in the wake of the #metoo movement.  

Leona Laurie: I’m sure you’d been aware of the gender disparity among film reviewers before starting CherryPicks, but now you’ve got quantitative data that backs that up.
Miranda Bailey: Oh, yeah. I really had no idea what the scope was.

LL: And now you’ve created this place that features and encourages female-identifying and non-binary film reviewers, and it’s interesting to compare your rating system based on those voices to the broader field represented on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic.
MB: I felt like just looking at a tomato or a splat was just not enough for me as a woman. I don’t know if guys feel the same way that women do, but a lot of women love sh*tty movies. Glitter is a horrible movie, and we like to watch it. You know what I mean?

We have a Bowl of Cherries, which is similar to “Certified Fresh,” and then we have two cherries, which is great– worth the ticket. Then there’s one cherry, which is “catch it from your couch”—it’s worth seeing, it’s just not worth going to see. (I think that’s a real point that is being missed out there in other aggregated or scored stuff.) Then “The Pits” is an overall, really hated movie.

LL: I totally hear what you’re saying about bad movies. Bad doesn’t necessarily mean unwatchable!
MB: Bad criticism sometimes can be really funny and entertaining to read, so we highlight that on social media, (with) “Mondays are The Pits.” We’ll put up a movie that’s got a “Pit” and pull quotes from women who’ve written about it– funny little snippets and one-liners of reviews. Everyone loves a Pitty movie now and then. Just because it’s bad doesn’t mean don’t see it! 

LL: Yes! And I don’t think I’m getting that from other review sites.
MB: I like Rotten Tomatoes. Metacritic has its very sophisticated audience. Our audience is just people who really want to know what women say.

LL: So now that you’ve been getting a more quantitative understanding of where some of the gender divides are in Hollywood, how do you think it’s doing? Do you feel like you’re seeing progress that matters?
MB: Yes. I mean, progress is slow, but at the same time I saw this cartoon the other day: “We are no longer two in 10 in every boardroom– we are now three!” It’s working, it’s just really slow.

I think I felt a lot more optimistic about it before the Golden Globes, honestly. When no women directors were nominated, I swear to God I had a conniption fit. Are you kidding me? This year alone was fantastic for movies (by women). Then I was hoping that the Oscars would nominate a woman, and… I just don’t get it.

The biggest problem with nominations, and getting women directors out there to be seen and taken seriously, is that no distributors are willing to put actual money behind the campaign for them. Until there’s a real incentive where distributors can make money off of the money they put into a campaign, they’re not going to push for us.

RELATED: We need more women behind the scenes in entertainment media!

LL: If the Golden Globes was your most frustrating moment in the business this past year, what were some good ones?
MB: I loved The Farewell. I felt really happy watching it, because I felt like I finally understood my in-laws! It really hit home for me, looking at different cultures and how people think. That was my favorite movie of the year, but I loved so many movies. I also really loved Knives Out. I loved Honey Boy. Ford v Ferrari? I certainly enjoyed the movie. I thought it was great acting! I love a fast car. Take me there. It was a dramatic Talladega Nights! I loved it.

LL:  Back to the site—you’re kind of living the saying “be the change you want to see in the world” with this endeavor. What would you encourage others to do if they want in on that?
MB: One is, if you’re interested in something like CherryPicks, please sign up for our newsletter at www.thecherrypicks.com.

(Another) message I want to put out there for women, in general, is that I think we’ve been taught culturally that we have to know exactly what we’re doing before we do it, and we’re afraid to make mistakes. That’s why we won’t submit ourselves for jobs if we’re not fully qualified. But a guy is like: “Hey, I’m 41% qualified. I’ll try.”

If I didn’t look past the fear of “I don’t know what I’m doing,” I would do nothing. I did not know how to produce a movie when I began producing movies. I did not know how to direct a movie before I directed movies. I did not know how to start a website until I started a website. It is not easy, but you can do it. And if you are a girl or a woman and you’re like, “I want to start this thing, but I don’t know how,” just start it! It’s okay if you don’t know how, because you will learn along the way.

It’s okay to be scared, but don’t let fear stop you.

Check out CherryPicks today, follow them on social, sign up for their newsletter and if you know any female-identifying or non-binary film reviewers who aren’t already part of their community, pass this on!

 

This article was originally published on International Women’s Day 3/8/20

 

Leona Laurie