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The Gerwig Effect: Sacramento native's success paving the road for next generation of filmmakers

The Gerwig Effect: Sacramento native’s success paving the road for next generation of filmmakers
The Gerwig Effect: Sacramento native’s success paving the road for next generation of filmmakers 02:29

SACRAMENTO -- "Barbie" is breaking box office records left and right, catapulting director Greta Gerwig to the spot of highest-grossing female director in domestic box office sales. 

The Sacramento native's success is paving the road for the next generation of female filmmakers in her hometown.

Cecilia Romo had a lightbulb moment in 2017 when she watched Gerwig's solo directorial debut, "Lady Bird." Sacramento born and raised, Romo saw familiar scenes of her hometown depicted on the silver screen.

"Just seeing shots of the city, the story [of the] mother and daughter ... I just cried and went and saw it three times," Romo said. "Because I finally saw myself."

Romo knew she wanted to be a filmmaker as well and drew inspiration from Gerwig's storytelling ability.

"I think that representation for me was like, 'This Sacramento girl can do it because that Sacramento girl did it.'"

It is a full circle moment for Romo, now a filmmaker herself, as she watches "Barbie" and Gerwig smash glass ceilings. The film is validation for female filmmakers like Romo; proof that women's stories and female-directed projects can obtain commercial success.

"What we thought a director looked like or a movie looked like... that can be changed and different," Romo said.

However, that change does not happen overnight.

According to a study from San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women are still dramatically underrepresented in the film industry.

According to the study, the percentage of women working as cinematographers on the top 250 grossing films domestically was 7% in 2022. The percentage of female directors, though doubling in the last quarter century, stood at 18% in 2022.

Kathy Kasic is an associate film professor at Sacramento State. She has seen firsthand how men often outnumber women in key roles on set.

In Kasic's classes, about 35% are women. She is hoping to see that number rise.

"We've talked about that as a department ... as a program," Kasic said. "How do we change that? How do we make our program so that it is more inviting and accessible to women?"

For Kasic, it's through action.

As a female director and cinematographer, she is walking the walk. Continuing her professional filmmaking career alongside teaching, she has documentaries like, "The Lake at the Bottom of the World," under her belt.

Before welcoming students back to class for the Fall 2023 semester, she returned from filming her next documentary in Greenland.

As Sacramento filmmakers like Gerwig and Kasic take the path less traveled, the next generation follows.

"I've had a lot of women in my classes be cinematographers and take on these roles... directors, leadership roles," Kasic said. "I think that's what it takes for women to be successful. We have to be there for each other."  

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