I’m a woman. I work with women, employ women, and many of my direct clients are women. Yet, I feel more than ever that it’s important to actively support other women in the media industry. It's easy, particularly when you're no longer in the freelance world, to sit in your bubble thinking everything is moving forward. But then Trump gets elected, Me Too happens, Google has a 20,000-person walkout, and the gender pay gap continues.
I recently attended a Matchmaker networking event hosted by Directors UK and The Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) to help female producers and directors meet like-minded women, share experiences, and network over an informal breakfast. What’s great is that before the event, they paired us up with someone we’ve got common ground with. So no one was ever left standing around, feeling lost over a morning pastry!
Recent reports have shown that the gender gap across our sector is widening again, rather than diminishing. A Who’s Calling The Shots? report highlights the fact that between 2013 and 2018, the percentage of factual TV episodes directed by women fell from 36.5 to 26.7%. It sounds like the same drum being banged, but recent events I’ve attended lately, like FOCUS, have all had male panels. Not great when you're talking to a room that’s 40 to 60% female.
There are a few supportive initiatives for women out there, like Cinesisters, a peer-to-peer online group championing female directors and DOPs. But I feel that it’s important we work harder to build support for women in the industry, from camera assisting and trainees through to DOP-ing and directing. It’s not enough just to have women in production. We need to support them on-set too.
At distillery, we’ve been actively addressing issues of balance in our work, pushing for more diverse stories from a wider range of contributors, including female-led businesses. We’re also keen in our support for LGBT campaigns like Pride Brand Makeover.
It’s tough out there. Breaking the glass ceiling will take time. But if we get enough of us united, then we can keep pushing it upwards–and the open spaces offered at PACT and DirectorsUK events are helping us do just that.
Deborah Charles, Executive Producer at distillery