How Britain & Canada Are Fighting Inequality In The Film Industry

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Gotta give a huge shout out to one of our fave blogs Women and Hollywood over at Indiewire for always being on point with industry news relating to women. While there is a serious lack of female representation and opportunities for women in Hollywood and the worldwide film industry, the truth is we are slowly making progress, and the more our stories are talked about the more it will inspire other women to live out their dreams. However, inequality in the film industry is something that must be fought continuously if we are ever going to see a change in the future.

After W&H released an infograph stating between 2009 and 2013 only 4.6% of films released from major motion picture studios were directed by women, Fox Studios decided to do something about it. They launched an exciting initiative called the ‘Global Directors Initiative‘ where they find, groom and mentor female directors and give them opportunities in their film and TV divisions.

But it’s not just Hollywood that has a gender problem in film. It is happening all over the world so these initiatives to get women into the forefront of the industry is much needed at this stage. Both Canada and Britain have launched initiatives of their own showing that a commitment to equality and diversity is also important to them.

As of September 1, 2014, the British Film Industry will enforce new guidelines set out to promote gender, race, and class. Any production that requests funding from the BFI must adhere to and demonstrate diversity both in front of the camera and behind. It has been called the “three ticks” list where any project must have two out of the following three categories: A) On Screen Diversity, B) Off Screen Diversity, C) Creating [Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic] BAME and Disability Opportunities and Promoting Social Mobility.

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BFI CEO Amanda Nevill commented, “To stay really relevant, it is vital that our film and television industries reflect and properly represent our society. Diversity is good for creativity; it supports economic growth, taps into un-derserved audiences and makes for good business sense.”

You can read more about the new system in depth by going to their website and see how the BFI hopes to make a major impact on their local industry. The funds come from the National Lottery in the UK, so essentially citizens will henceforth be paying into diversity. Winning!

Across the pond and up north a little, Canada is implementing their own program to encourage women in the biz. The Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) has just launched a five-month intensive mentoring program called ‘Filmmentor.

Selected from a pool of 75 talented applicants, the group will participate in a series of hands-on technical and creative workshops taught by female film professionals working in the field. Together they will make two short narrative film projects to be screened on January 11, 2015 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema as part of LIFT’s annual members screening. for female directors, similar to what Fox is doing.

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Although the ratio of women to men fares a little better than Hollywood, there is still a long way to go to reach complete parity. According to a report released in 2012 called ‘Focus on Women’, “of 139 films released in Canada in 2010/2011 only 21% were [by female] writers or directors.”

“Creating an accessible space where women are encouraged to express themselves and develop technical proficiency is LIFT’s way of addressing these inequities. Filmmentor is a promising avenue for LIFT to promote gender equity within the organization and in the broader Canadian film milieu,” said LIFT in a press release.

Hurrah for programs like these which exist, because until the entire global film industry thinks the Bechdel Test guidelines are a no-brainer, studios, networks and organizations need to venture out to ensure equality is being reached on all fronts. Because when reports are released, such as the G20 & Gender Equality report just published by Oxfam Australia stating women down under have to wait 75 years until to get equal pay, it brings it back home that equality is not just a film industry issue, it’s not just a woman’s issue, it is a human issue.

It’s bad enough that US Senate Republicans shot down a vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act in April for the third time in history, which would ensure all federal employers pay their male and female employees equally. Baffling decisions like this from the government mean we as women and as citizens must take the power into our own hands and create opportunities for one another.

When women suffer, everyone does. We live in an age where women are advancing like never before so there is no reason why old barriers cannot be broken down and traditional sexist attitudes be abolished.

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16 Comments

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