Women And Hollywood

Rising Up: June’s VOD and Web Series Picks

By Joseph Allen

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The release of “Wonder Woman” has Women and Hollywood reflecting on women who aren’t afraid to take charge of their situations. This month’s VOD and web series picks focus on women who do just that — refuse to let their position be dictated by the world around them.

In the first of our VOD picks, the short film “STAG,” a young girl investigates her stepfather’s mysterious activities in their basement. Set in the 1960s, “STAG” tells a coming of age story that feels fresh, as it adopts the perspective of a young girl on the hunt for knowledge her stepfather is denying her.

“I Am Jane Doe” tells the story of real-life women who must fight not only for themselves, but for their young children as well. Writer-director Mary Mazzio follows mothers who are fighting a legal battle against sex slavery, revealing the numerous hurdles — from corporations to the court system — that keep the mothers from finding justice for their children.

Our first web series pick also features women struggling for justice. “Or Die Trying” is set against the backdrop of Hollywood, and follows four millennial women who are attempting to dismantle the sexism they find in their day to day lives. Focused on giving women a louder voice inside the industry, “Or Die Trying” has made efforts to ensure women are represented on both sides of the camera.

The comedy series “Running With Violet” also features women working on and offscreen. Written and created by co-stars Rebecca Davey and Marie-Claire Marcotte, the series follows a single mother and housewife on a cross country journey that only gets wilder the further they get from home.

Here are our VOD and web series selections for June.


“STAG” (Short) — Written by Donna Di Novelli

A thriller set more than 50 years ago, “STAG” follows a young girl who investigates the mystery of her stepfather’s activities in the basement of their home. The film dissects the erotic gaze that dominates much of cinema, and is already being examined in women’s studies classes in the U.S. and Canada. Starring Sarah Steele (“The Good Fight”) as Francesca, the short uses its central mystery to speak to the way the actions of adults are often mysterious to the young people they live with. Screenwriter Donna Di Novelli crafts a story that captivates and thrills in spades, and reminds audiences of their own youthful curiosity.

“STAG” is now available on iTunes.

“I Am Jane Doe” (Documentary) — Written and Directed by Mary Mazzio

Telling the story of several mothers who are fighting the American sex trade on behalf of their young daughters, “I Am Jane Doe” is a powerful document about the horrors of an American sex trade that few know exists. Tracking these mothers and children in real time, the film shows their struggles not just against sex traffickers, but against the corporations and courts that allow them to exist. The film is a gut-wrenching testament to the commitment of these mothers, even as it educates its audience about an issue that impacts every community in the country.

You can check out “I Am Jane Doe” on iTunesAmazon, or Netflix.

Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Mary Mazzio.

Web Series

“Or Die Trying” — Created by Myah Hollis; Directed by Camila Martins

Following four women struggling to find success in Hollywood, “Or Die Trying” calls out the kind of casual sexism that infects the industry today. The four characters at the show’s center are each involved in a different aspect of Hollywood life, and each of them is working to advocate equal representation inside the industry. “Or Die Trying” is also interested in advocating for women behind the camera, and is committed to hiring a production team that is no less than 85 percent female. This web series is working toward leveling the playing field for women in every area of Hollywood — something we’re all for.

You can watch “Or Die Trying” beginning June 9 on YouTube.

“Running with Violet” — Created and Written by Rebecca Davey and Marie-Claire Marcotte; Directed by Lindsay MacKay

“Running with Violet” tells the often hilarious story of two women who are both searching for an escape. These two friends, one a single mom and the other a dedicated housewife tired of her husband’s frequent abuse, take a holiday weekend and quickly become embroiled in a criminal enterprise that forces them to run from both a local meth gang and the police. Part of this comedy’s charm is its ability to take a serious premise and inject it with plenty of comedy. Using a comedic tone without making fun of its central characters, “Running with Violet” proves that men aren’t the only ones who can break bad.

You can watch “Running with Violet” on YouTube.

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