It’s so stark that even Variety noticed: May has bloomed with reports on gender inequality in the UK film and television industries. It’s a lot of data, so we’re very grateful for this handy round-up from The F-Word by Ania Ostrowska. The take home? Not great.
Our partner organisation EWA announced their preliminary results at Berlin, and will unveil their multi-national survey report at Cannes next week; Directors UK, our partners for the Making it Possible mentorship (apply!) at Edinburgh International Film Festival, will also be at Cannes, unpacking the implications of their major study of a decade of UK statistics on women directors; and earlier this week, Raising Films’ Dr. Natalie Wreyford announced her first findings on gender inequality across six key roles, as part of the University of Southampton’s Calling the Shots – which shows the problem isn’t confined to the director.
Obviously, Raising Films have been poring over these numbers as we receive the submissions to our own survey, which will announce at Edinburgh – and we see, ever more, the need for our distinctive look at the impact of parenting and caring on careers in film and TV (there’s still a week to let us know what you think).
RF founder Hope Dickson Leach joined Natalie and the Southampton team for their launch event at the BFI on Tuesday 10th May, as part of a panel with (left to right in photo below) filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, Lizzie Francke (BFI Film Fund), Kate Kinninmont (WFTV), Corrina Antrobus (Bechdel Test Fest) and producer Sarah Curtis (and Hope casting a silhouette on the end).
Natalie’s data focuses on 2015-16, demonstrating that the issues identified by Stephen Follows for DUK persist after the introduction of the BFI’s three ticks diversity scheme. The panel and informed industry audience had multiple responses that focused on the scale of the challenge, entrenched unconscious bias, and the larger political situation of austerity. Radical ideas gained applause, such as:
Gurinder Chadha: perhaps we need a centralised Task Force to enforce gender equality
— callingtheshots (@WomenCallShots) May 10, 2016
Would a distributor specialising in 'films by women' be the answer to some of the industry's problems? #WomenCallShots
— callingtheshots (@WomenCallShots) May 10, 2016
— Laura Adams (@AdamsLaura) May 10, 2016
Hope was thinking particularly about the practical structures of filmmaking: the long haul, unpaid years of labour for writer-directors pitching passion projects, and also the short-notice, intensive short-haul on projects for hire that can mean 11-day weeks.
Only EWA’s survey had specific questions about parenting, and – being Raising Films – we’ve extracted those aspects of the UK report (pp.30-31) (available here) for you.
32% of UK respondents felt that being a parent discouraged them from directing films – but it’s interesting, also, that only 42% of UK respondents (who were predominantly female) were parents – so the survey isn’t able to capture the parents who have been discouraged all the way out of the industry (or were too busy to answer the survey). Holly Aylett, the UK survey editor, makes a judicious distinction:
This is the question that the statistics reported by DUK and Calling the Shots raise for us: how to track the impact, specifically, of the industry’s lack of adjustment to the effect of parenting and caring labour on career progression? The impact of unconscious sexist bias is clearly visible in DUK’s report, summed up in this shocking info graphic:
What happens between film school and first feature? We’re hoping our survey will shed some light.
It’s more complicated than parenting and caring labour, of course. As the Calling the Shots report shows, this is an intersectional issue to a highly significant degree:
Class, sexuality and dis/ability also have a huge impact on access to filmmaking at all levels, and are only just being captured by BFI reporting. But parenting and caring – which are feminised, and have an exponential effect for anyone facing multiple axes of marginalisation – contribute, as the EWA report begins to analyse and advocate.
We support DUK’s advocacy for 50/50 in UK funding, but want to raise the question of what extra considerations and initiatives might be necessary in order for the people who face additional barriers to physical, practical, and social (as well as ideological and social) access to filmmaking.
Creative Scotland, our funding partner, have looked at the results of their recent survey and taken on board the need for differential support for access. They’ve introduced Personal Access costs to the Targeted Funding: Screen grants (download the guidance form here), which is excellent news.
This application can cover access costs for D/deaf and disabled artists, and for childcare “where participants are unlikely to be able to afford attendance – or where for activity where women are under-represented.” As we know from this month’s data-blast, that’s UK film and television as a whole.