All-Female Sets: Work Ethic at the 201 Level

ctrl alt delete creators Roni Geva and Maragret Katch on the unique experience of making work with a team of brilliant, collaborative women.

Did you know that there are lots of other feminine hygiene products besides tampons and pads?

There are period panties! And menstrual discs! And menstrual cups! And sponges! And reusable cloth pads! And if you’re gonna use a tampon, you can use one with or without an applicator! Or without bleach! Or with bleach? Or you can say screw it all and just free bleed – that’s an option!

Pardon all the exclamation points, but this was an actual conversation we had on our set. We had an all-female crew, and we noticed, right in the middle of shooting, how delighted everyone was to be having a literal 20-minute conversation about periods while we were setting up a shot.

Margaret Katch and Roni Geva on the set of ctrl alt delete

We don’t always use all-female crews, but for our pro-choice abortion clinic workplace comedy ctrl alt delete, we sure did.


Because they’re awesome.

We know that’s general, but we’re about to get specific.

We recently had a conversation with a dear friend who is a producer and also happens to be male. He had just come off of the biggest shoot of his career and we asked him how many women were on set.


One of the reasons was that for him, with so much riding on the line in this huge career opportunity, he felt like he needed to hire someone he knew would do a good job (most crews he had worked with in the past were male-dominated), and if he was gonna hire someone to carry heavy things (such as a grip), he knew a man would do a better job.

Ksusha Genenfeld,Maggie Sotter, Tiffany Murray (on ladder), Heather Balish and Qiwei Grace He during the making of ctrl alt delete. (Image by Roni Geva)

Yup. That’s a woman. On a ladder. With a giant very, very heavy camera that she’s holding on her shoulder. While balancing. On a ladder. For a long time.

Our crew, to a person, carried lots of heavy things, loaded them, and finished early.

When we relayed this to our friend, he reflected and said, “Yeah, I guess if you ask a bunch of dudes to move a couch through a narrow door, they’d just try and slam it through over and over again … whereas if you ask a bunch of women to do it, they’d measure the door, figure out the angle, and do it right the first time.” We reminded him that he was, of course, speaking in generalities, but in general, yes, exactly. We talked about sexism and resumés and not trusting women. We talked about men who don’t give someone who presents as female a chance. He said, “What do you want me to do about all that?” and we said, “Hire a woman to lift things next time.” And he agreed.

Another one of our dear friends (also of the male variety) accused us of sexism because we did not hire men on this set. He said that while we are trying to fix the problem, we are creating the same environment that left women out of sets.

Here’s the thing: we don’t always work with all women … But when we have had men on board, we’ve noticed that it takes them a little longer to get collaborative and trust us. It’s strange.

On our all-female crew, we set a plan in motion and everyone is immediately on board. With men, there is this moment (which can last anywhere between 20 minutes to the entirety of the shoot) where they think they can tell us how to do our jobs. We don’t know why the men we’ve worked with have done it, but it’s been consistent. We’ve had to “pull rank,” which is annoying. And, frankly, time consuming.

Roni Geva and Margaret Katch on the set of ctrl alt delete

There’s this unspoken thing that’s tied between male ego and job titles. Who has which one, if they deserve it, who can do something better … (Again, we realize this is a gross generalization! We have also worked with wonderful, collaborative men, and will continue to do so, k? We love them! And when we find them, just like our badass ladies, we hire them forever.) Anyway, regularly, with men on set, they put their ego ahead of the story we’re trying to tell. Conversely, what we’ve noticed when we’ve worked with women+, is that they always put collective problem-solving before ego. The whole over the one.

Roni was telling a producer friend about a terrible equipment malfunction that happened on the set of ctrl alt delete. What was extraordinary is how the problem was solved. Two department heads and their entire departments stood around the broken piece of equipment. Everyone took turns making a suggestion of how to fix it and then, without question, those suggestions were tried, no matter who had the idea. In the meantime, Roni was making a backup equipment plan on the phone, another associate producer was letting the rental company know what was happening with their equipment, and Margaret was taking the extra time to rehearse with the cast. We, as the executive producers, trusted and left our leaders alone to figure out the problem and then they, in turn, let their teams do the same.

Heather Balish, Ksusha Genenfeld, Vida Robbins, Tiffany Murray and Anyssa Guiterrez filming ctrl alt delete. (Image by Roni Geva)

When Roni told her friend about it, he said, “Damn, and no one threw a fit?” And ya know what? No one did. No one threw the weight of their title around. Sure, it got tense. Yes, we got behind. But guess what? Everyone put their ego aside and we finished the day early after all.

Would we welcome men to our crew? Sure. What can they learn from how women work? Lots. Would we teach them a class on “How to Work Like a Woman?” Definitely. It’s level 201.

Collaboration. Less judgement. More listening. No yelling. Are women better listeners? At least the ones we hired, it seems.

On our set, we had an environment where people felt more confident to make bolder choices because they felt safe and heard and seen. Because we imbued them with trust. We hired them, after all. To us, that means that we implicitly believe they are capable of doing the best job possible, and that they will.

Margaret Katch and Roni Geva on the set of ctrl alt delete

One last thought about this. When we told our extraordinary cinematographer we were writing a piece about having an all-female crew, she said this: “When you hire a woman, you might get someone with a shorter resumé, but because she knows how important this is for her career, she’ll work doubly hard” – probably for less money, sad but true – “and be an eager team player because this opportunity doesn’t come as often as it might for a man.”

And one of the best moments we had on set was when this lovely, talented AF woman thanked us for living by example, “for showing me and my crew of young women that yes, women can be in charge and fuck yeah, it’s awesome and efficient.” And, in this case, award-winning!

Caveat: Y’all, it’s not just about hiring a woman. It’s about us hiring people who are awesome and highly skilled and super-duper good at their jobs that happen to also be women … And contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of those to go around. So take the risk, take the chance, and hire her.

Roni Geva and Margaret Katch are the creators, executive producers and writer-directors of the award winning short form series CTRL ALT DELETE. Geva is an actor, sketch-comedienne and writer, born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, and now based in Los Angeles. Her sketch comedy show The Arab Israeli Comedy Hour (Second City, ioWest, UCB) garnered great acclaim and led her to work as a writer on the 2015 CBS Diversity Showcase. Since then she has worked on television as an actor (Jane the Virgin, Casual, Shaded, This Is Us, Atypical, Bosch) and films, including two – Take With Water and To Fall in Love with Anyone, Play this Game – directed by her creative partner Margaret Katch. As well as a director, Chicago native Katch is also an actor and writer, working on stage, film, and commercials. She has worked on television (Gilmore Girls, 69th Annual Emmy Awards, Rake, and a pilot for Lifetime), films (Bastard Son of a Thousand Fathers), and several web series (Quick and Dirty, Crystal’s Balls, Wanted: Best Friend). (Photo by Joanna Degeneres.)