It’s been a strong year for the leading ladies of the big screen, with three of the past year’s most major blockbuster hits – Wonder Woman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Beauty and the Beast – seeing female actresses front and center. However, behind the scenes it’s a different story. Although female directors would surely help project female perspectives more strongly in movies, recent statistics show that “so far this year only one film in the top 20 box office grossers worldwide was directed by a woman: Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time.” Another recent study by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film discovered women held just 18% of behind-the-scenes film jobs including directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers.
Rather than sitting back and groaning at such dismal figures, there are a number of companies looking to make changes within the industry. In the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, there has been an increased focus on women in film with regards to how they are treated and the roles they are given. During this period of introspection, we’re taking a look at some of the best charities and organizations out there helping female filmmakers to progress and flourish within the film industry.
Women In Film is an organization that advocates for and advances the careers of women working in the screen industries. On its website, you’ll find helpful lists of scholarships and grants that you can apply for along with links to production and writing labs, a mentoring programme, and a film finishing fund.
NYWIFT advocates for equality in the moving image industry and supports women in every stage of their careers. Per the NYWIFT website: “As the preeminent entertainment industry association for women in New York, NYWIFT energizes women by illuminating their achievements, presenting training and professional development programs, awarding scholarships and grants, and providing access to a supportive community of peers.” It also has over 15,000 members and produces over 50 innovative programs and special events annually, including the Muse Awards for Vision and Achievement, which honors women in front of and behind the camera, and Designing Women, which recognizes costume designers, makeup artists, and hair stylists in the industry.
Chicken & Egg Pictures supports female nonfiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change. Per the company’s website, “We envision a world in which women filmmakers, representing a range of experiences and backgrounds, are fully supported to realize their artistic goals, build sustainable careers, and achieve parity in all areas of the film industry.” Since 2005, Chicken & Egg Pictures has awarded $6.2 million in grants and thousands of hours of creative mentorship to 285 filmmakers. Films supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures have won numerous awards, including Academy and Emmy Awards.
According to the Women Make Movies team, “From cutting-edge documentaries that give depth to today’s headlines to smart, stunning films that push artistic and intellectual boundaries in all genres, Women Make Movies – a non-profit feminist social enterprise based in New York – is the world’s leading distributor of independent films by and about women.” Its Production Assistance Program assists female directors with their productions from concept through completion with fiscal sponsorship, consultations, and other technical assistance.
The Director List is a centralized hub for finding female directors and their work. At the heart of the company is its database, where executives and agents search through a list of over 1,000 female directors with demonstrable experience in film, TV, commercials, and music videos. In addition, the site offers news, multimedia, and a community section for holding fundraisers and campaigns in an aim to raise awareness about female talent. In short, this company wants to cut out the middleman and offer women a space to promote their capabilities and experience.
Fed up with an industry where less than 5% of the top box office films are directed by women, a group of female directors & writers formed in order to find new ways to bring women to the screen. In addition to its monthly meetups where women can share resources and advice, Film Fatales organizes a range of events, panels, and workshops, often partnering with other institutions. Previous collaborations include Film Independent, the Film Fatales annual Sundance party, as well as networking events for directors and producers in collaboration with Gamechanger Films and Women Make Movies. Organizations such as the Tribeca Film Institute, IFP, AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and NBC Universal have partnered with Film Fatales too, to connect industry figures with female film & TV directors.
An earlier version of this article was published at Film Daily.