Screen Queens is the brainchild of 21 year old, Chloe Leeson. It’s a site meant to hold a space for feminist film criticism, women centric works, and reviews by women and LGBTQ youth. Hailing from the north of England she is a recent grad who studied Costume Interpretation with Design in between founding and acting as Screen Queens’ Editor in Chief. What we love most about Screen Queens is that much like our own site, it’s geared towards all level filmmaker with an emphasis on the youth voice. Many do not believe that young people have the capability to critically dissect film without a proper degree, Screen Queens knows differently and gives voices to those doubted most doubted. We simply love their site!

The text below is an edited excerpt of an interview between Chloe and The Light Leaks Founder, Kim Hoyos.

  • How did you start Screen Queens and why?
    I started SQ in November 2013 after doing a project in college on girl gangs in films. During my research I came across a statistic that said that men made up 91% of critics in major film/entertainment publications despite the fact that women make up 52% of cinema goers! This really irritated me and made me consider the reviews I was reading in magazines like Total Film & Empire at the time, and how they might not represent the thoughts and interests of women, and also not focusing on women that make films too.After trawling through the web, I found a few amazing women-led sites that reviewed films and provided feminist essays but they were largely written by women with degrees, something that 16/17 year old me found quite daunting.
    So I set up SQ to allow girls of school/university age to find a first place to start writing critically, originally focusing more on easily digestible content, of course as I’ve gotten older the content has matured slightly but I think I still have the same intentions with the site.
  • Where did the name originate from?
    When I initially put out a call for writers/collaborators on twitter and tumblr there was a small group of us that made a facebook group and we just bounced ideas off each other, I think Screen Queens was one of about 3 final choices. The name idea came from the celebration of women on screen and behind the camera, and how we might consider them ‘queens’ or inspirational.
  • What is your website’s goal?
    I want SQ to shed light on women-centric and women-made films, offering a space for women to showcase their short films and discuss them with us as well as offering the space for young women critics to build their portfolio of work for things such as university applications etc.
  • How has your website changed since it’s launch?
    Originally our focus was just on women critics but we are reaching out now to include any member of the LGBT community to write for us, as their presence in film criticism is even less felt than women’s, and discussion of LGBT films and issues in general is something that would benefit from authentic voices discussing it. We are also due a visual re-vamp too in the next few months now that I have finished up university!
  • What have been your favorite pieces published by the site? In 2015, we first took part in Women In Horror month with a 7-part horror short showcase during February, it was amazing and overwhelming to see so many women contacting us to show us their work! But I think one of the most fun group pieces we put together was Dream Biopics and their casts, everyone came up with such fun ideas, I would be so happy if any of these were made a reality!
  • Why do you think feminism is an important lens to hold when critiquing film?
    I think that representation is really important, and if you’re not representing a portion of society fairly, then you aren’t portraying society at all. Feminism is important to me because it encompasses half of the population, and as my own feminism has grown and I’ve realised how much women’s rights intersect with issues of race, sexuality, identity and class, then feminism is right at the forefront of confronting prejudice and oppression on a massive scale.Media is one of the most accessible points on a global scale where you can change opinions and make people aware of lived experiences that differ from your own- and what better place to do this than the movies.I really love the phrase ‘if she can see it she can be it’, so when girls see themselves represented fairly and in fun and interesting and diverse ways on screen, then they can apply that confidence and understanding to their own lives.
  • What have been your favorite pieces published by the site? In 2015, we first took part in Women In Horror month with a 7-part horror short showcase during February, it was amazing and overwhelming to see so many women contacting us to show us their work! But I think one of the most fun group pieces we put together was Dream Biopics and their casts, everyone came up with such fun ideas, I would be so happy if any of these were made a reality!
  • Why do you think feminism is an important lens to hold when critiquing film?
    I think that representation is really important, and if you’re not representing a portion of society fairly, then you aren’t portraying society at all. Feminism is important to me because it encompasses half of the population, and as my own feminism has grown and I’ve realised how much women’s rights intersect with issues of race, sexuality, identity and class, then feminism is right at the forefront of confronting prejudice and oppression on a massive scale.Media is one of the most accessible points on a global scale where you can change opinions and make people aware of lived experiences that differ from your own- and what better place to do this than the movies.I really love the phrase ‘if she can see it she can be it’, so when girls see themselves represented fairly and in fun and interesting and diverse ways on screen, then they can apply that confidence and understanding to their own lives.
  • What do you do to stay creative?
    As a costume student I am being creative pretty much all the time, but outside of my uni work I enjoy doing artwork for SQ and I hand-paint t-shirts quite often and make up sticker packs and mini-zines that I’ve previously only sold at uni craft fairs. Whilst I work on re-vamping SQ we’re going to be looking more into creating an online store!
  • Why is it important to you to give others a voice online?
    The internet has been hugely important to my development as a person, in terms of education and ways of thinking, style and even trivial things such as film recommendations, I love the way that the internet brings people together, specifically young girls, and spaces like Screen Queens and other sites in the same vein allow us to do that and reach out to one another. I’ve created so many friendships through this site and it’s nice to offer the chance to others.
  • Have you always been active on the internet?
    Yes I think so! Before my family had a computer I used to go to my local library every Tuesday and Friday night to update my Bebo and Myspace accounts ahahahahaha. I think I’ve probably had just about every form of social media going.
  • How can someone get involved with the website?
    We accept pitches and film submissions all the time but you can also message us about becoming a full-time contributor, for any of these just drop us an email at girlsonfilm@outlook.com or DM us on twitter!
  • Keep up to date with Screen Queens via their twitter, facebook, or website!