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Films 'letting down teenage girls': Verso

AAP logoAAP 13/10/2016 Danielle McGrane

The director of new Australian film Boys In The Trees, Nicholas Verso, says that women, and teenage girls in particular, don't have the strong female role models in film and TV that they had in the 1990s.

However, Verso's supernatural coming-of-age film wouldn't pass the Bechdel test - commonly used in popular culture to determine how much time women on screen spend talking to each other about something other than a man, and used to draw attention to gender inequality.

Boys In The Trees centres around the friendship between two teenage boys who are about to leave high school, so the Bechdel was always a little out of Verso's reach.

He did, however, come up with his own method to make up for this through the main female character Romany, played by Sydney actress Mitzi Ruhlmann.

"I thought 'if there's only going to be one girl in there then she's got to be the smartest person in the film' and it was really important to me that she had her own journey, away from the boys, and that's why she's not really the love interest," Verso told AAP.

The director based his film in the year 1997, which took technology such as email and mobile phones, out of the mix which he found worked well for his teenage characters.

"That's when they really started to communicate and I thought 'ah this is where the characters really belong'," he said.

It's also the era in which he believed women had stronger representation on screen.

"I think women had better role models in the 90s than they have now," he said.

"I remember one of my favourite TV shows was Roseanne, and who's the Roseanne of today? Where's the Thelma and Louise? Where's the Terminator 2?"

Verso seemed particularly inspired by some powerful female characters when creating Romany.

"It was important for me to get Romany right because you look at Geena Davis in the Long Kiss Goodnight, a great character who's in no way sexualised, just a strong character, and I'd like to see more of those," he said.

"There is a romantic relationship, but that doesn't define her. She's got her own goals."

* Boys In The Trees opens in Australian cinemas from October 20.

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