A general misapprehension of what filmmakers do and how films are made has obscured the creative and cognitive complexity of the work women have been doing in film for over one hundred years. Using clips from the multi-award-winning short documentary I Want to Make a Film about Women (Pearlman et al. 2020), the video essay Distributed Authorship: An et al. Proposal of Creative Practice, Cognition, and Feminist Film Histories argues that filmmaking is an instance of “distributed cognition” and offers a provocation about the mythologizing of film authors. It then proposes a small, very small, but significant, very significant, adjustment to the stories we tell about filmmakers. I call this adjustment “et al.” and suggest that these five characters and a space are shorthand for an urgently needed change to understandings of collaboration, creativity, and cognition.

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