The Longest Straw, like 15% of all major studio movies, is directed by a female director. The two producers are both female. There is a team of several camera people (an atypical arrangement for a feature movie, but a necessity given the wear and tear associated with a 65-day hiking trip), of which three out of our five primary camera people are female. Three out of Sam's five hiking buddies that travelled the Aqueduct with her were female.
When Samantha and I first began working on this movie, we weren’t seeking to make any sort of feminist statement, or to try to intentionally have a primarily female crew. It happened anyway, almost entirely by chance. As it turns out, when you’re making a movie that’s low-budget, you rely heavily on your friends to step in and do difficult work that a stranger wouldn’t be willing to do for the pittance you’re willing to pay. And it just so happens that many of our friends are hard-core, awesome female filmmakers who majorly stepped up to make this movie happen.
There are a lot of things that still lead to raised eyebrows when a woman does them. Travelling alone through the wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas? You can bet that a lot of people expressed concern about Sam’s safety. Lifting and carrying heavy camera and camping gear? Yeah, we did that in spite of doubts. Making a movie – actually filming a feature film on our own, without the support of a major studio? That’s a feat regardless of gender, but the fact that our primarily female crew has wrapped primary production just makes the accomplishment all the sweeter.
You can always find someone to doubt you or to discourage you from making your best efforts. That’s not something limited to women, or to people in creative professions. Everybody needs to find a way to overcome doubters to achieve their dream, whatever it may be..
And we hope that our movie, in addition to raising awareness of water management issues and inspiring people to save water, will also inspire people to seize the day and achieve those things they never thought possible.
So next time someone tells you shouldn’t travel alone, or that you should be afraid of the wide world because you’re a woman, remember that Samantha walked 400 miles on her own, and spent 30 of her 65 days travelling alone, and she conquered the aqueduct.
So next time someone tells you that you can’t accomplish something because you don’t have the experience, or the money, or the connections, remember that this crazy hike was completed by a pair who had never produced a feature movie before, and was filmed by a director who has never directed a feature before.
Because nobody has the power over your decisions but you, and we’re here to tell you – you can do it.