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.
The second part of Christina Kiely's two-part interview with All In: The Fight for Democracy co-director Lisa Cortés, conducted on Zoom in anticipation of her participation at the NYWIFT 2020 Creative Workforce Summit: Documentary Makers, Industry and Funders in Conversation next week.READ MORE
All In: The Fight for Democracy is the essential new documentary the LA Times called “an eloquent history lesson on voting rights.” Co-directed by Lisa Cortés and Liz Garbus, the film tells the painful history of voter suppression in America as it traces the story of gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her 2018 run in Georgia. Oscar-nominated producer NYWIFT Member Lisa Cortés (Precious, The Apollo, Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion) joined NYWIFT Board Member Christina Kiely to discuss All In: The Fight for Democracy, why it matters so much right now, how they pulled it off during the pandemic, and why Stacey Abrams’s story needed to be the spine of the film – apart from the fact that we love her.READ MORE
All In: If you haven’t seen All In: The Fight for Democracy yet on Amazon, do it – it’s a must-see, especially now. Filmmakers Liz...READ MORE
In early August, NYWIFT made Kris Rey’s new feature I Used to Go Here available for streaming and presented a conversation with the writer/director and lead actress Gillian Jacobs. I Used to Go Here is the story of a young woman in her mid-thirties, Kate Conklin, whose first novel has been released and the consequences of a lack-luster response to the book.READ MORE