Jill Soloway Speaks at SXSW 2017: 'Protagonism is Privilege'
"A lot of protagonism is propaganda for privilege. Who is selling this propaganda? Mediocre white men."
Jill Soloway has become a prolific creator of content over the last several years, springboarding from her Sundance breakout Afternoon Delight into the award-winning Amazon series Transparent, and now has a new Amazon series I Love Dick premiering soon. In addition, Amazon recently announced Soloway, along with her producing partner Andrea Sperling, is developing a limited series for the streaming service about an all-girl rodeo in Texas in 1942, written by Cassie Pappas.
Earlier today, Soloway gave the film keynote speech at SXSW 2017, and we'll have that video posted here with additional write-up as soon as it's available, so check back later. In the meantime, check out this conversation with Soloway from the Facebook Live Studio at SXSW 2017.
Making time to not work
Being so busy, Soloway admitted that she is currently attempting to not work. "It's so easy for me to work, I'm so ambitious. I need to carve out time to do nothing," says Soloway. Thankfully for her fans, this doesn't seem to be happening. "I go for a walk with a friend, then ten minutes into the walk, my friend is pitching me an idea."
Getting ready for the "next epoch of love and diversity"
Soloway is quite emboldened now that Trump is in the White House. "All the little girls can grow up to be a disgusting president," Soloway notes. To help her through this current political climate, Soloway turns to her active imagination. "I do thought exercises. I imagine the queer White House in four years. I imagine the impeachment trial of Trump to get to the queer White House. I imagine Trump getting attacked with questions."
"I imagine the queer White House in four years."
Soloway also believes that Trump has taught her a valuable lesson about achieving power, stating, "I think we need to be as bombastic to our right to power as [Trump] was." Returning to her thought exercises, "I imagine giving birth to the next epoch, which is one of diversity and love."
It's more than gender storytelling, it's about protagonism
When many of us think about Soloway's current work, especially with Transparent, we see her pioneering new ways to tell stories through the perspectives of shifting genders. Soloway herself, however, looks at it from the perspective of who chooses the protagonist, and "how protagonism is privilege, and a lot of protagonism is propaganda for privilege. Who is selling this propaganda? Mediocre white men."
"Just by grabbing your protagonism, you upend the status quo."
Soloway is excited that more women, people of color and queer people are now writing and creating content, so they are no longer "the butt of the joke" and have "moved from object to subject."
Advice for diverse filmmakers that hetero white men need to hear, too
For filmmakers who are not hetero white men, Soloway encourages you to "keep making stuff. Borrow privilege. If you're not a white male, you start steps away from access. Just by grabbing your protagonism, you upend the status quo."
White men who are content creators would be wise to listen to Soloway's observations about them in an effort to get woke: "Everyone questions themselves, but I think white men question themselves the least. If you're a man and you have access to a certain class and you're white, things just come more easily to you."
For more, see our complete coverage of the 2017 SXSW Film Festival.
No Film School's coverage of the 2017 SXSW Film Festival is sponsored by Vimeo.