The Female Gaze
A series of interviews with Women In Film.
Welcome to The Female Gaze, in which I talk with women from every walk of the creative process of film and television. Over the course of this series, we will explore every facet of the film industry, and go in depth into the thoughts and processes of women at every level within the film community, from writers, directors and actors, to editors, cinematographers, marketing consultants, PR, and critics.
Within every interview, you will be introduced to the experiences and unique perspectives of the legion of talented, professional women who shape the cinema that we love.
Blogging culture is all around us today, an online environment of opinion and debate. It can be a tough world to contribute to, both cut throat and competitive, and always argumentative. Making an impression, therefore, can be a difficult, sometimes futile, endeavour.
The film industry is quickly waking up to the worth of online culture, with more and more blogs and independent critic websites finding themselves on press screening lists, and festival agendas.
These are the exceptions.
I first became aware of Lucy Buglass through a mutual friend and having clicked on her blog, was immediately hooked to her distinctive voice. Smart, funny and cine-literate, Lucy writes with passion and intelligence about the subject she loves. More impressive still, Lucy’s contributions are secondary to her work as a copywriter, yet never feel anything less than professional. She cares about the issues of women within the industry, with how they are represented, and, above all else, the power of being yourself.
An original voice who dares others to be original too, she is one of those exceptions.
Q. Let’s begin with your blog, Lucy Goes To Hollywood. The first question I have for you is this: have you managed to get to Hollywood yet?
A: Haha nope! In fact, I’ve never even left Europe. There’s a whole world out there that I need to explore, and Hollywood is certainly on that list. I’d like to see many big American cities actually.
Q. Tell me about your blog. When did you start it?
A: February 2017. I was going through a difficult time following an unexpected redundancy, and I needed a hobby to take up whilst job hunting. I never expected the blog to take off the way it did, and I’m eternally grateful for that. The fact people actually want to read my stuff continues to shock me. I have a great bunch of friends and followers now.
Q. When did you first begin to write?
A: I’ve been writing ever since I knew how to use a pen, starting with those rubbish, poorly formatted stories you’d write as a kid! I occasionally write fiction but now I’ve discovered I much prefer non-fiction and articles. When I was at University I was the President of the Creative Writing Society for a little while, and that was a blast. I’ve been developing my own writing style for a long time, and I’m constantly learning.
Q. You’re from the North of England. Where were you born?
A: I was born in a little seaside town called Blyth, in Northumberland. It’s a few miles north of Newcastle, which is such a glorious city. I can’t recommend it enough honestly. The food, entertainment and nightlife is just wonderful!
Q. Growing up, was cinema always your preferred art form?
A: Definitely!We’d frequently go to the cinema as a family, there was nothing quite like a meal out then a good film on the big screen. I also owned all my favourites on VHS, and can distinctly remember breaking my copy of Mary Poppins because I watched it so much!
Q. Did you take advantage of the Tyneside Cinema? I used to live there when I was at University.
A: I LOVE Tyneside Cinema! It’s such a gorgeous place and I’m happy to say I went there a lot. It’s one of the things I miss about living up there.
Q. You’re a film graduate. Where did you study? (and what qualifications did you gain?)
A: I did Film Studies at Oxford Brookes, which was a combination of theory and practical film work. I gained a 2:1 whilst I was there and made lots of great memories.
Q. Where are you
A: I’m based in Kent and work in London, so I’m able to switch between the two quite easily.
Q. You and I talk often on Twitter, mainly about films and film making. Can you remember at what point you realised that you wanted to pursue the role of a film critic?
A: Honestly, this is quite a recent thing for me. I wanted to be a filmmaker for a long time, but I soon realised that it was something I wasn’t very good at once I graduated! I’ve always wanted to work in the film industry though, so when I noticed that people cared about my film blog and my opinions, I thought I’d try my hand at criticism. I’ve never looked back.
Q. Most freelance writers hold down day jobs. What is your occupation, outside of writing about film?
A: I’m a copywriter by day, and work in a social media agency to help clients. It’s essentially digital advertising, so I help to spread brand awareness and develop their tone of voice. I got into this through my love of writing, and have been doing it since graduation.
Q. What qualities do you think make a good film critic?
A: This is always a difficult question, and I’m sure you’ll get so many different answers depending on who you ask. I really hate elitism in film criticism, and I think it’s important we get a diverse range of opinions and voices in order to really explore the art form. If you have good grammar and you’re passionate, respectful, and willing to accept criticism yourself, you can be a ‘good’ critic in my opinion. The main thing is that you have a genuine love for what you’re writing about.
Q. Do you have a process when you write? For example, do you prefer a deadline, or no pressure?
A: I definitely prefer deadlines, as it’s a way of motivating me and knowing I have an end goal. I’m trying my best to have a proper posting schedule, but sadly that’s been up in the air lately. It’s easier to slack off without deadlines, so even if they’re completely internal, they’re good to have.
Q. What about genre? Is there a particular type of film that you gravitate towards?
A: No, not really. My favourites are definitely thriller and horror, but I try to see as much as I can. I’ve actually been challenging myself to watch genres that I typically dislike (rom-com’s, westerns) to see if my perception has changed at all.
Q. You also host
your own podcast. When did that begin?
A: That was launched earlier this year. There’s only been one episode so far and the sound quality is atrocious, but the community have been so supportive in helping me improve. The fact they were willing to listen to an hour’s worth of terrible sound was pretty remarkable, so thank you for that!
Q. Do you find it a different discipline to talk about film, as opposed to writing about it?
A: Definitely. Writing about film is a lot more structured, you can keep it concise and well-polished, whereas when you’re talking there’s lots of rambling on and filler words whilst you’re trying to get your point across. You can get a sense of someone’s personality much better by their voice though, so it is a fun medium to start exploring. I was terrified on my first podcast, but now, it comes naturally to me. I love recording with others.
Q. Do you appear on any other podcasts?
A: I do! The community has been so good to me, and I frequently appear on At The Flicks and Cinemania World. Outside of that, I’m always open to doing a guest spot on other podcasts and I’ve been lucky enough to appear on Pick Of The Flicks, Talk Filmy To Me and Filmotomy to name a few.
Q. You write for a handful of publications, primarily online, and you seem to have a very strong focus on Women In Film. Given the statistics about the ratio of male to female critics, do you find that you feel a responsibility to be a part of that community?
A: Yeah I think so. I’m trying my best to be a strong, honest and open female voice in the film community. You might’ve noticed I like to push the message of being yourself, and not letting others get you down, and that’s the philosophy I try to live by every day. If I can encourage someone else to put their work out there, then that’s an honour. I know how hard it can be. Women have just as much of a right to put their work out there as men do. Film is for everyone.
Q. Do you think women are getting a fair share of representation on screen?
A: It’s certainly getting better, but we have a long way to go. We are starting to see stronger, more independent female protagonists who don’t spend half their time talking about men. Captain Marvel is a great recent example of this, and I think Brie Larson did a fantastic job of bringing her to life. You could also look at Us, and how fantastic Lupita Nyong’o was in her two roles. It was her film, her story, and she was a black woman being taken seriously on screen. I adored that. It’s time to stop turning women who don’t fit the traditional male gaze into laughing stocks, and I’m hoping we can do that with plus size women very soon. It’s tiring seeing ‘the fat friend’ on screen, and I find it very insulting to women. I’m feeling optimistic though, we’re already seeing slow progress.
Q. What do you think a female perspective brings to the critical process, that a male perspective doesn’t?
A: The female experience is very different to the male one, and I think this is reflected in film criticism. If a film deals with exclusively women’s issues such as childbirth, motherhood, menstruation, societal pressures or the wage gap, we’re more equipped to discuss that as we know what it’s like. We experience these things in our daily lives, and we can show solidarity with each other because of it. Outside of women’s issues, I think female voices are essential if we want a fair and diverse range of opinions about films. I believe all voices should be heard.
Q. Let’s talk a little about Film Twitter. We are both members of that community, but it seems like it also comes with as many cons as pros.
A: Film Twitter has been good to me, but I can often get frustrated with some of the behaviour on there. I hate the way fandoms gang up on each other, and the fact that throwing personal insults has become commonplace. You can have an interesting and fulfilling debate without throwing expletives about. I suppose some of that is not necessarily exclusive to Twitter though, as the internet has made it easy for people to hide behind their screens and be awful to each other. It’s a sad reality of modern communication.
Q. Do you pitch to a lot of magazines and websites?
A: Not yet, but I’m certainly interested in doing so. Stay tuned!
Q. Have you attended many festivals in a film critic capacity?
A: So far I’ve only done the London Korean Film Festival for the blog, but it was a great experience. I enjoyed learning about a different culture to my own, and how different filmmakers work to tell their stories. We were treated to several Q&A’s too, kindly translated by the Korean Cultural Centre. I loved it and would do it again for sure.
Q. Would you say that you watch the majority of films in the theatre or at home?
A: The theatre for sure. My boyfriend and I both have Odeon Limitless cards, so we try to use them as much as we possibly can. Sometimes we’ll see three or four films at a time. You really can’t beat the cinema experience to be honest; it’s such an immersive and large-scale thing. You see details you’d otherwise miss!
Q. Do you think, with all the streaming services now available, that the theatre experience is dying?
A: It’s funny, because you would have thought that would happen. But there’s always lots of people in screenings I go to, and obviously fellow enthusiasts like us are helping to keep it alive too. I definitely think memberships like Limitless, Unlimited, etc have helped to keep the numbers up too.
Q. Do you harbour any desire to write, say, a screenplay, or a book, and put your film knowledge into practice?
A: That would be awesome! I think both of those things appeal to me, though I feel like I need to develop my skills more before I dive into that world. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility though.
Q. Outside of cinema, do you have any other artistic passions?
A: I very rarely write fiction, but it is something I love to do. I’m currently trying to read more as I have shelves and shelves of unread books which is depressing to see! I also adore going to the ballet, because telling a story though music and dance is magical. Not sure I could demonstrate any of it for you though – I’m far too clumsy for that!
Q. And finally, what is your main focus for the future?
A: Growing Lucy Goes To Hollywood is my priority at the moment, but I’m looking to branch out and get more of my work out there. I’m having so much fun doing this though, it’s a pleasure to meet so many likeminded people along the way.