Saturday, 10 March 2018

Being a Woman in the TV & Film Industry | International Women's Day

Since my International Women's Post last year a lot has happened. Especially in the film industry.

Filming/sound recording at Bestival 2016
And the thing is, I wasn't surprised when all of these allegations and accusations came out. Men in a position of power taking advantage of women beneath them. It's a tale as old as time.

#MeToo and #TimesUp has been making such a powerful impact. I love that at the film awards ceremony's both women and men were trying to make a stand. To give a voice to those who don't have one.

It's hard to see the industry you idolise and want to work for in a bad light. I grew up with a huge love and respect for film. Aside from all of the horrible news that has come from this, there has been a lot of good.

Victims coming forward and investigations opening, celebrities and important people addressing the situation and calling for action. In some of the cases the accused are actually taking responsibility, although it is only a few.

Reading with the actors from my short film 'Burgundy' where I was the Producer
International Women's Day is here to address the inequalities of women all over the world, and in all different kinds of careers.

I can't vouch for the women in other countries, or women in different careers. But I feel that I can vouch for women in TV and Film. I'm aware I'm not successful in this industry (yet) but if I've spotted inequality and unfairness already, that's saying something.

Over a year ago I worked on an independent feature film. Everything seemed normal and fine at first. Then I began to realise that all of the women associated with the film worked in the production office or in hair and make up. There were only men on set (director, first assistant director, third assistant director, director of photography, camera assistants, both sound guys, script supervisor etc). Now I'm not saying there is an issue with that, I'm glad that the women were in important roles for the film. It is stereotypical that women are in organisational roles, not just in TV and Film.

But, it was also my treatment on this film. I know I was just a menial runner, but I worked hard. I was working twelve hour days for three weeks alongside my part time job. I was on this film as work experience as I was still in education. I put so much effort into trying to do a good job for the film, I didn't want to let anyone down and I wanted to make a good impression. On a few occasions I was looked down upon, by the actors, crew and investors who came to visit.

Unfortunately, I've become accustomed to this treatment throughout my life. I usually just brush it off because I know who I am and the hard work I put in. However, after a while it starts to eat away at you. People thinking you're a slave, do this do that, with no politeness or even acknowledging that I'm a human being.

Discussing the day's shoot with the lead actress from 'Burgundy' on set
In my office currently I am the only female colleague out of nine of us. I don't think it was intended that way, I think it's the experience and confidence of applicants. Last year I had to re-apply for my job as the contract renews each year, but I was up with the chance to be promoted. After being bruised and battered from university I wanted to pull myself together and give everything I had. Luckily, I answered all of the questions well and was granted the promotion.

I feel like I have to work extra hard to prove myself in my career. When I was at university I would tend to do this stupid thing and not put myself forward for things, and play dumb. When I was around male peers or lecturers I could feel their judgement and I unwillingly proved them right. They thought I was just a girl wasting my time on a film course, with no hopes of becoming successful because I'm not a man. No one ever said these exact words to me, but I felt it.

For one of my projects at university I needed to research women in the role I aspire to be in. I felt guilty that I couldn't name very many female film producers off of the top of my head. But I can name countless male directors ~ I'm aware producers don't get the same publicity as directors, but again I couldn't name very many female directors either. There are plenty of female directors and producers you just don't hear about them enough. I was nearly brought to tears when watching the end credits of the recent Beauty and the Beast adaptation. The first female credit that rolled was for editing, below all of the "important" male roles. I was fuming, as Belle's character and Emma Watson both empower women...but this message didn't make it in the creation of the film?

I'd love to hear from more of you about your own experiences in any career about your treatment by colleagues or management.
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2 comments

  1. When working in the electronics industry, I often had to interview job applicants and rarely found any women applying with only about three that I ever interviewed in over thirty years. What puts women off certain trades and industries that would be perfectly OK for them? What influences their choices? it must be fairly early in their lives since by the time they start job seeking they seem to avoid many areas with the concept that those kind of jobs are not for them. Is it school or home?

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    1. I suppose it’s probably a bit of everything, if teachers aren’t pushing the idea that women can be into science, electronics, technology and mechanical industries, a lot of those industries pay good money too! And I think there is still that stigma that women can’t do male roles, but I’d like to think it’s getting better, but the treatment of women when they get into those roles is another issue!

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