The film industry is a tough one, and as with most industries it’s even tougher for women. Though women comprise of 52% of the population barely 10% of films are directed by female directors. If you think that’s a little off, that maybe that’s not true, I’d like you to name (off the top of your head) 3 female film directors that are not Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, or Catherine Hardwicke. If you can do it, then my hat’s off to you.
Still, the ratio of x to y-chromosomes is far too great for filmmakers in favor of us dudes. We need more films made by women, but how do we do it? Well, the NYC Film Office has just launched a new initiative to create greater opportunities for women in Film, Television, and Theatre. The $5 million grant will include a script-writing contest, a film finance conference (including pitch workshops), a report focused on analyzing the disparity of women in Directing positions, as well as a block of programming on a NYC-owned television channels to focus on women’s perspective.
This sounds pretty great up front, but it does come with a slightly patronizing catch: those writer’s submitting their pieces for the contest will not be paid. Though the film office stated:
“…this is an opportunity for the winning scriptwriters to have their work viewed by millions of people and earn a much-needed credit, which will help propel them to the next rung in their careers.”
Much as exposure and experience is important within this industry, I’ve never understood this bait and switch technique. If you’ve ever known a Graphic Designer or Effects Artist or most other folks in similar fields within entertainment we are often asked to work for no legitimate compensation and simply reassured that exposure will lead to a paycheck. While I’m happy for any effort to include more voices within a very solitary industry, this is something that will always rub me the wrong way. You can’t just hire interns forever.