Written and researched by Mette Knudsen and Jane Rowley
The Danish film industry is booming. And internationally women who direct in Denmark have a share in the success – and play an even larger role in marketing it.
WIFT Denmark celebrates the success of women directors, well aware that the more role models we have, the brighter the future.
The only problem with the ‘successful woman’ image is that it was not what we were hearing from our members – and not what we were seeing in the cinema and on our TV screens. Conscious of its positive potential, there’s was something about the image of powerful women in Danish film that didn’t quite ring true.
But we needed documentation for what we heard – and saw. So we decided to get some figures on the table to find out who makes the funding decisions and who gets the chance to communicate their visions in the Danish film and TV industry.
Because as long as the decision makers, role models and buddies in the bar are primarily of one gender we have a democratic problem. Which stories get told - whose stories get told – when four out of five of the features we get to see in Denmark are directed by 50% (or less) of the population?
WIFT Denmark’s report is 112 pages long. Here we can only share some key figures. We hope that our (and future reports) can receive the funding to share our findings in full, so that Women in Film & Television across Europe can share their experience and knowledge.
Our research of the film & TV industry focussed primarily on what we categorised as Top 5 positions – the best paid, most influential jobs of director, producer, cinematographer, editor and screenHere’s the facts from the first gender study of the film and TV industry in Denmark:
The Top 5: Men and women as directors, screenDanish Feature Films 1992-2002:
The statistics reveal a marked imbalance in all Top 5 positions
Danish Feature Films 1992-2002:
The statistics reveal a marked imbalance in all Top 5 positions
Cinematographers: 100% men
Screenwriters: 83% men & 17% women
Producers: 81% men & 19% women
Directors: 80% men & 20% women
Editors: 62% men & 38% women
Across the board there were 78% men and 22% women in 1992, and 80% men and 20% women in 2002. The number of women in positions of influence in the world of Danish feature films decreased from 1992-2002.
Danish Short and Documentary Films 1992-2002:
39% of Danish short and documentary films were directed by women
39% of Danish short and documentary films were written by women
34% were edited by women, but only 14% were shot by women, some by professional cinematographers and some by the director herself. Of the 20 documentary films shot by a professional female cinematographer from 1992-2002 14 were directed by women. The chances of a female cinematographer being hired to shoot a documentary film in Denmark are thus twice as high if the director is also a woman.
The National Film School of Denmark
Denmark’s film school has both a film and TV school. The school is a central gatekeeper in the industry. We examined both who decides who gets in, who gets in, and who teaches at the school.
Admissions Boards 1992-2002:
Film: 76% men & 24% women
TV: 65% men & 35% women.
Film: 79% men & 21% women
TV: 65% men & 35% women
Sound recording engineers: 93% men & 7% women
Cinematographers: 90.5% men & 9.5% women
Directors: 75% men & 25% women
Screenwriters: 65% men & 35% women
Film producers: 54% men & 46% women
Editors: 46% men & 54% women
TV directors: 45% men & 55% women
TV producers: 44% men & 56% women
As our statistics show men and women applying to study film at the National Film school of Denmark meet three times more men than women during the admissions process, and four times more men than women as teachers during their education.
Denmark has a relatively high level of state support for film production, support administered by The Danish Film Institute. The institute employs film consultants to use their subjective taste to determine which projects receive development and production funding. Denmark’s film consultants are thus central gatekeepers in the industry, determining which films – and which directors – receive film funding.
Feature Film Consultants
Over 30 years from 1973-2003 only two women were employed as feature film consultants. For a period of more than 25 years there were no women deciding which features received funding and thus which films and whose stories the audience got to see.
Short Fiction Consultants
The short fiction (novellefilm) funding programme existed for only eight years from 1994-2002. During that period 3 men and no women were employed as consultants.
Short and Documentary Film Consultants
From 1992-2004 4 men (67%) and 2 women (33%) were employed as documentary film consultants. From 1999-2004 no women were employed as consultants for Danish short and documentary film.
Feature Film for Children
From 1983-2004 4 men (67%) and 2 women (33%) were employed as consultants for children’s features. In 14 of the 20 years for which figures are available there were no women employed as consultants.
Short and Documentary Film for Children
From 1983-2005 5 women (83%) and 1 man (17%) were employed as consultants for short and documentary film for children, the only field where there is a majority of women. In 19 of the 22 years no men were employed as consultants for short and documentary film for children.
Whilst gender is not the only factor in making a subjective evaluation of the artistic merits of a film project, it is possible that men and women alike, consciously or unconsciously, find stories that reflect their own experiences more immediately interesting or relevant.
WIFT Denmark therefore recommends that both genders are represented at all times as feature film consultants.
In 2002 Guerilla Girls ran a campaign on the anatomically correct Oscar: ‘He’s white and male, just like the guys that win’. A count of recipients of the Danish Film Academy and the Danish Film Critics’ awards reveals that the situation in Denmark is (also) nothing to The Danish Film Critics Bodil Awards1948-2002:
Best Feature: 89% men & 11% women directors. Over the past 32 years only 2 women directors’ films have been found worthy of a Bodil.
Best documentary: 89% men & 11% women directors.
The Danish Film Academy Awards1984-2002:
Feature director: 90% men & 10% women
Documentary director: 54% men & 46% women
Feature screenwriter: 83% men & 17% women
Feature cinematographer: 100% men
Feature editor: 79% men & 21% women
Management and Executive Boards
A statistical analysis of the top management and executive boards at the top of Denmark’s central industry organisations reveals a heavy dominance of men:
DR (Denmark’s main public service TV station)
Board of Directors 1991-2003: 83% men & 17% women
Executive Board 1992-2002: 96% men & 4% women
Board of Directors 1986-2002: 74% men & 26% women
Executive Board 1992-2002: 87.5% men & 12.5% women
The Danish Film Institute
Board of Directors 1990-2005: 57% men & 43% women
Executive Board 1997-2002: 88% men & 12% women
Directors of the Danish Film Institute 1972-2002: 100% men
The Danish Producers Association
Board of Directors 1992-2002: 94% men & 6% women
We at WIFT Denmark look forward to hearing of any similar research or reports. In the meantime any queries or questions relating directly to the report can be sent to the authors:
Jane Rowley at email@example.com or Mette Knudsen at firstname.lastname@example.org"> email@example.com
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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.