Report: women, minorities underrepresented in film industry

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Toronto-based not-for-profit group Women in View has released a study which sheds light on the apparent lack of female and minority representation in top tier creative positions in the Canadian film industry.

The Women in View on Screen report, conducted with the guidance of Charles Davis, a professor at Ryerson University’s RTA school of media, found that out of the 130 Telefilm-funded films made in 2011, only 17% were directed by women, with only two directors being minority women.

Women were only slightly better represented among screenwriters, with 21% of 175 being female, but still only 3 minority women.

“There’s a disconnect between what we feel is going on and the numbers,” Women in View executive director, Rina Fraticelli (pictured) tells Playback.

“It’s almost exclusively women directing screenplays by women. There’s such a scarcity of men directing screenplays by women,” she adds, noting that only six of 36 female screenwriters had their films directed by men.

In addition, no women directed screenplays by men, and 22 of 23 female directors wrote and directed their own films.

“It’s particularly interesting right now when we’re at a moment in the evolution of media where change and diversity are at a premium,” says Fraticelli.

“It affects the employment opportunities for women. At a national level, it undermines the vitality of the media, and the sources of energy, ideas and culture,” she adds.

Fraticelli argues that there needs to be greater discussion about the numbers and what they mean for the industry, but adds that increasing female representation – possibly through government incentives similar to regional tax credits – could only benefit the industry.

“To have women and minorities in all of our work is going to deepen the quality of it,” she explains.

“With the market being increasingly global for all of our products, if your workforce isn’t mirroring the complexity and diversity of your intended consumer or audience, you’re going to be a bad businessperson,” she adds.

In response to the study’s findings, Women in View launched the Creative Leaders pilot program earlier this year, pairing six rising industry professionals with sponsors in hopes of promoting women as a driving force of the industry.

“We have done very well in terms of creating mentorship programs and other incentives to get women into the industry,” says Fraticelli.

“There’s a huge lump of highly trained and experienced – many of them award-winning – women but they’re not advancing,” she adds.

She says it’s vital that we begin rethinking the way we mentor women in the industry, and find ways to sponsor them as well.

“In addition to being well trained, disciplined and having the talent to do something, to really get to the highest levels of work, what you really need is somebody championing you,” she explains.

Participating in the program is Vancouver-based director Lisa Jackson, who is being sponsored by renowned theatre director Kim Collier.

“A lot of people are looking at funding models or the business side, whereas Kim and I are mostly in the creative side,” she tells Playback.

“I’m trying to develop what I hope will be an innovative and new concept for ways to bring the theatre to film,” she adds, citing Wim Wenders’ Pina as an inspiration for a project that is in its very early creative stage.

She says the program has provided her with context for where she stands in her career, as she moves forward and begins thinking about her development and creative direction as a director.

Fraticelli says Women in view will be looking into how well women are represented in producer, editor and cinematographer roles, and that it will also release in 2013 a Women in View on TV report.

The Creative Leaders program runs until the end of April.

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