Measuring Tape Girl is a film about a young woman who turns to online video blogging in order to express her doubts and fears, while she tries to find self-love and self-acceptance. Like so many of us, she struggles with the notion of not being “good enough”. She measures herself against others and finds herself not measuring up before anyone else can find her at fault. The film screening was held in Toronto at the Culture Days Festival on October 2, 2011.
mym: Marco, what inspired you to write and direct this film? Is there a personal connection to the film for you?
Marco Veltri (MV): Growing up I was always incredibly shy and spent most of my time avoiding actual conversations with people. I eventually overcame this but I would hide my shyness with sarcasm and other self defense mechanisms. For a long time I would use self deprecating humour to protect myself from actually being close to people. Online interactions allow us to express ourselves but keep us at a safe distance from the world. Measuring Tape Girl creates an online personality to help her deal with her doubts and fears. She creates a new version of herself to cope with situations she can’t deal with. We all create different versions of ourselves to deal with different situations. After all these years I still carry my shyness with me. To promote ‘Measuring Tape Girl’ at different film festivals around the world I created ‘Measuring Tape Marco’. He was a version of myself who was okay with wearing a blazer made of measuring tape to promote ‘Measuring Tape Girl’ at film festivals. I get a little embarrassed when I look back at pictures of myself at film festivals dressed in a yellow measuring tape blazer but I needed to become the visual embodiment of what my film was about. When we truly accept ourselves as we are we no longer need to create alternate selves to deal with situations, so I still have some growing to do. I completely accept myself as I am but there are times when I question my value. The truth is I am Measuring Tape Girl and so are you. Everyone has moments in their lives where they feel that they don’t measure up to their own standards. Becoming who you truly are is a slow process for some, I know I’ll get there but I have a few more selves to try out before I completely accept myself for who I am. We are always growing and changing so sometimes the struggle is to accept who you’ve become, especially when it’s not who you thought you’d be.
mym: What was the process of creating this film like for you? Did you know how it would be filmed, that you would cast just one person in it, or that it would be a monologue, while you were writing it? Or did you perhaps have a message you wanted to share with others and then later decide how to best broadcast that message?
MV: I started creating challenges for myself with each film so I could keep growing and learning. Some recent examples include the Politics of Fear. In this film I had to make sound a major character in film. The film was based around sound effects becoming the psychological representation of the thoughts and feelings of the lead character. In ‘A day in the life’ I was studying how you transition from one scene to the next. How you move the story forward. In the film there was a dancer, dancing on bus. She danced at home, at work and in the park. No matter where the dancer was she dancing. In every situation of her life she was still a dancer and an artist. In my latest film Measuring Tape Girl I was forcing myself to focus on dialogue, character development and acting to tell a story. For this story I’ve thrown away all my camera tricks and based the film on a character who calls herself Measuring Tape girl, trying to overcoming self-esteem issues. One person talking to a camera but that one person talking is telling a story.
mym: Society has set standards and beauty ideals that are often unrealistic and unattainable, contributing to this feeling of “not good enough”. Why did you choose to highlight these issues with one person’s journey through video blogging?
MV: We all suffer from ‘the not good enoughs’. Society’s beauty ideals are not only unrealistic and unattainable but they have consistently created generations of women and men who feel they are not good enough. Through video blogging, the lead character in ‘Measuring Tape Girl’ can control her own self image and create new better versions of herself. When we’re online, who are we? Are we our true selves or are we projecting the version of ourselves we’d like to be? The version we’d like to be is usually directly affected by the standards of beauty we see around us every day.
mym: In this digital era that we live in, where we post our whole lives online, pour our hearts out and bare our souls for anyone who is viewing – what do you think the implications are of exposing ourselves in these ways?
MV: Video blogging allows for the false sense of directly connecting to people instantly. There’s an exponential difference between emotionally connecting to someone who’s in the same room and blindly broadcasting your feelings to everyone in the world. Digital technology has brought us closer but it has also created generations of people who are more comfortable dealing with their feelings online then one-on-one in a real situation. It’s both wonderful and confusing at the same time. When there’s a balance of real person interaction and online interaction we can continue to develop healthy relationships with ourselves and others. The new issue now becomes are we good enough and is our online self good enough? The younger someone is the less separation there is between their real self and their online self. We are heading towards a world where the online projection of ourselves will be more important than our real interactions. Eventually direct one-on-one relationships may be replaced by digital relationships. In fact they have been partially replaced already by social media sites.
mym: Jessica, the star of the film, has an emotional moment when she tries to tell herself, “I am allowed to be happy” and she has some difficulty saying this. Why do you think there are barriers to finding self acceptance and self-love?MV: We create our own barriers to finding self-acceptance and self-love. Before we can learn to love others we must accept and love ourselves for who we are. Society teaches us all from an early age that we are not good enough - that we need to improve and reach some unattainable ideal. These ideals are reinforced by ourselves, our friends and family. These barriers are only as strong as we let them be. To find self-acceptance and self-love we must abandon our search for perfection. We must find happiness in our imperfections. Once we learn to love our mistakes and to laugh at ourselves, self-acceptance and self-love can become part of our lives.
mym: Marco, you have been quoted as saying “the belief that we are not good enough is a silent epidemic that must be conquered before we can finally become who we are meant to be”. Does the film provide any solutions on how we can conquer this epidemic? How does someone find their true self? Would you say that it’s something that is always evolving / changing?
MV: The solution is provided by the simple words “I am allowed to be happy.” The film also provides an example of someone talking their way through their problems and at least attempting to work their way through the issues they face. We are always evolving, changing and growing. Slowly becoming our true self and creating new versions of ourselves as time passes. It’s important to accept who you were, who you are and who you will become.
mym: Self-doubt is a prominent theme in the film. Jessica is never quite sure of herself. We all face self-doubt from time to time or even constantly. How do you deal with self-doubt?
MV: Self-doubt is one of my favourite hobbies. Or at least it used to be. In the past I would use sarcasm and self deprecating humour to protect myself from actually being close to people. The last two films I’ve made have dealt with self-doubt and self-acceptances so I guess I’m using filmmaking therapy to deal with my self-doubt issues. The greatest tool to fight self-doubt is to increase your self-worth by accepting who you are and where you’re going in life. It is also very important to have strong relationships with your friends and family.
mym: Alienation, self-doubt, fear, low self-esteem, distorted body image or the overall feeling of “not being good enough” are often tied into various mental health problems. What would you want to say to someone who is struggling with these issues?
MV: I would make them watch the film and talk to them about what they thought about it. The fight against ‘the not good enoughs’ is a personal journey towards or away from self-acceptance. All anyone can do is encourage people to accept their imperfections as strengths.
mym: The film is about 14 minutes long. How did you decide on the length of the film? It leaves you wanting to know more about what happens to Jessica. Do you think you will create a sequel to the film? It could almost be turned into a TV show. Or perhaps an online show...
MV: The film is designed as an introduction to the character of Measuring Tape girl. We are currently on the 3 to 5 to 20 year journey of attempting to make a feature film version. We’ve created a group of Measuring Tape Girls who come together to help each other overcome their problems. We’ll see what happens but it’s quite the struggle to get any film made, especially one about self-esteem and self-acceptance. Maybe if I added some zombies and explosions things might move along a little faster.
mym: What do you hope people will take away with them after watching Measuring Tape Girl?
MV: I would hope people take the words and ideas about self-acceptance with them and hopefully it can help a few people start their own journey towards self-acceptance.
mym: Do you have any words to live by?
MV: Before we can learn to love others we must accept and love ourselves for who we are.
For more info go to Pasquale Marco Veltri.