Whether you’re cast in a project that shoots abroad or you’re a producer on a quest for locations and tax credits, we’re all finding ourselves traversing the globe more than ever. Getting to know (and joining) our sister Women in Film & Television organizations around the country and the world can be a resource of unending value. From the quickest route to crewing-up with talented women to taking advantage of great events and programing, WIFTs around the world expand our networks and our horizons.
By Heidi Philipsen
Is true gender parity in film on the horizon? Women in Film & Television International (WIFTI) hopes so. NYWIFT member filmmaker/journalist/actress Heidi Philipsen attended the 2019 Berlinale International Film Festival, where 10% for 50/50 was introduced: a new European initiative offering rebates to gender-equal productions, led by post production house Chimney in partnership with WIFTI and Women in Film and Television Germany.
Philipsen met up with fellow NYWIFT member Adriana Shaw, founder of the streaming platform Herflix, while in Berlin, and they discussed what this initiative means for the future of the industry.
Heidi Philipsen: What brought you to the WIFTI/WIFT Germany Berlinale event?
Adriana Shaw: Helene Granqvist, the new President of WIFTI invited me to Berlin to meet the Presidents of the European chapters. My company, Herflix, has an agreement with WIFTI to provide a WIFTI channel on our online movie theater platform for member filmmakers. I took the opportunity to meet the chapter Presidents in person. Also, I could see that the 69th annual Berlin International Film Festival Agenda was a meaningful time to celebrate and advocate for more gender parity. Herflix became a sponsor of the event as well.
HP: Was it meaningful?
AS: Absolutely it was. The energy in that room was amazing. WIFTI President Helene Granqvist and the Post Production company Chimney representative introduced the 50/50/10 initiative signed (up to now by 20 Post Production houses world-wide) to offer productions with 50% woman’s crew a 10% deduction. Berlinale Festival Director [Dieter Kosslick] signed a 50/50 pledge for women filmmaker participation for 2020. Gale Ann Hurd shared her life successes and challenges as a female producer. But mostly, you could feel the palpable optimism in the room. And it was fun.
HP: How long have you been a NYWIFT member and what changes have you witnessed for women in film over the years?
AS: [I’ve been] a member of NYWIFT for 11 years, I believe, and before that a member of WIF LA. My good friend and mentor, Gloria Goldsmith, was a founding member of NYWIFT.
It is amazing to experience, as I have, the changes in the film markets and festivals over the last 30 years. Because of the advocacy and persistence of NYWIFT, the various Women in Film organizations, Geena Davis’ See Jane, Melissa Silverstein’s Women and Hollywood blog, and European Women’s Institutional organizations, gender parity is now front and center at the film festivals. The markets have also changed. When I began as a distributor, women’s stories were few and drama movies were only bought by government funded stations in Europe. Now female directors are promoted as an asset to a film, at least at the film markets, and we see the new digital players, Netflix, Amazon, etc. investing in her stories. What was also encouraging to see at the European Film Market at Berlinale was a significant increase of women in the ownership and leadership of the distribution companies and sales agencies.
HP: What do you hope for the future?
AS: My company, Herflix, and several others have taken on the mission to promote women directors. Ask most people to name a woman director and they can only come up with Kathryn Bigelow. That needs to change if women are to get more opportunity for the bigger budgeted movies. 3% to 4% [women directors for big budget features] in the US is better but far from where the needle has to move. Europe is ahead of us. We also still lack the access to financial capital. I believe what we all hope for is equal opportunity for ourselves, our daughters, and our professional sisters.
HP: What has WIFT done for you and your career? What do you do that you feel will reflect upon women in film?
AS: I believe its important to have a community of women to connect and share goals and dreams. We all need a club – female or male, with the like-minded. I have made friendships and business associations that I value personally as well as professionally. My participation at NYWIFT has given me a platform to explore my business ideas and be part of a movement that’s important to me. It gives me and everyone else who participates a frame around their work. When women come to me for career advice, the first thing I say in join NYWIFT or your local WIF chapter.
Additional reporting by Katie Chambers.
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Eunice Levis
Welcome to NYWIFT, Eunice Levis! Writer and director Eunice Levis is a first-generation Dominican American from the Bronx, New York. Eunice's work focuses on genre-bending stories that combine her love of horror, sci-fi, thriller, and fantasy, often through a diasporic lens. She seeks to disrupt and challenge dominant narratives around technology, race, gender, history, and diaspora identity by altering the stories we tell about them. Eunice spoke to us about her early inspirations, her latest work, and how genre stories offer a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo.READ MORE
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Amanda DiMartino
Let’s give a warm welcome to new NYWIFT member Amanda DiMartino! Amanda is a director, producer, and editor committed to audience engagement. Some of her career highlights include collaborations with brands such as Harper’s Bazaar, Peloton, NBCUniversal, SYFY, Complex, KIDZ BOP, The Berlin Film Festival, Standard and Poor’s, and The Hollywood Reporter. Altogether, the 500-plus videos she has worked on have garnered more than one billion clicks and views while generating more than $1 million in revenue. She spoke to us about working with Bad Bunny and Usher, and why exploration is key to success!READ MORE
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Vanessa Meyer
Welcome to NYWIFT, Vanessa Meyer! Meyer is a filmmaker, programmer, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to having earned a Ph.D. in Communications with a specialization in personal storytelling, she has worked at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Kiss Off Entertainment, Reel Love Film Festival and most recently, Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV). As an artist, she is interested in exploring the complexities of feelings, a theme that has repeatedly appeared in her work. Meyer spoke to us about championing unique voices as a programmer, moving to NYC, and finding light in the darkness.READ MORE
Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Mohana Rajakumar
Welcome to NYWIFT, Mohana Rajakumar! Mohana is a South Asian American scholar, novelist, screenwriter, and stand-up comic whose work regularly explores feminist themes. Some of her most notable literary accomplishments include winning the She Writes New Novelist Award in 2011 for her coming-of-age novel An Unlikely Goddess and the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 for Love Comes Later. She co-wrote and appeared in the short film Me Against the World, directed by Kali Bailey, which appeared in NYWIFT’s “Women in Film Night” at the 2022 Montauk Film Festival. Mohana has resided in Qatar since 2005. She spoke to us about working across various art forms, her writing process, and the special honor that comes with writing a banned book!READ MORE