As a female screenwriter and producer, I couldn’t be more excited about sharing this important news regarding a giant push for women in film coming out of The Women’s Media Summit - Provincetown, MA.
The Women’s Media Summit, a group of over 100 thought leaders from various industries, today issued a white paper that outlines an action plan for eliminating gender inequity in U.S. entertainment media. This white paper lays out the persistent problem of gender inequality in entertainment media and provides a practical action plan to achieve equal representation of women behind the scenes and on the screen in film, television, and streaming platforms. Women hold only 3% of above-the-line and green-lighting positions in the media industry and are vastly underrepresented as protagonists and lead characters in film and television.
Caroline Heldman, co-author of the white paper said: “A lot of smart people have been working on gender injustice in entertainment media for decades, but progress has been slow and stagnant in recent years. This White Paper provides the blueprint for a new national movement to demand an equal seat at the table for women in entertainment media.”
This white paper was generated through the collective effort of over 100 thought leaders from various industries who came together in Provincetown, MA in April of 2017 for the Women’s Media Summit. Attendees brought their expertise as directors, producers, writers, professors, non-profit leaders, political representatives, attorneys, and corporate CEOs. Together, they gained a shared understanding of the barriers to gender justice in entertainment media and brainstormed effective strategies for knocking them down.
Keynote Speaker Alysia Reiner said: “The Women's Media Summit was so deeply powerful because we came together as a community of women and created The White Paper, our plan of action: unique solutions with time frames and specific goals, including the funding and marketing, and tax breaks for content made by women. As an actress and producer who loves hiring other women and breaking both statics and status quo, I love that we are helping create an actual system to reward those choices.”
Summit participants identified seven strategies for gender justice in media: 1) litigation against gender discriminatory practices; 2) lobbying policymakers at the federal level to address persistent gender discrimination in entertainment media; 3) tax credits to encourage the hiring of more female filmmakers; 4) development of a financing network for female filmmakers; 5) development of a promotion fund to advertise films made by women; 6) development of a marketing campaign to educate the public about the issue of gender discrimination in Hollywood; and 7) development of a consumer campaign to encourage viewers to vote with their dollars for gender equity.
Christine Walker, Summit producer and co-author of the white paper said: “Efforts are already underway to run a concerted campaign using litigation, legislation, and consumer activism to pressure the industry to do the right thing by hiring more women behind the scenes and featuring more and better female characters in film, television, and streaming media.”
Two new programs were created in the wake of the Summit: the Women’s Media Action Coalition (WeMac), a coalition to oversee implementation of the seven strategies (WeMac.org), and GradeMyMovie.com, a tool for consumers to reward films with crews that include women and people of color in key storytelling positions. This white paper is the blueprint for a new national movement to achieve gender justice in entertainment media. The stories and images in media are influential in shaping virtually every aspect of our lives, and it is vitally important for women to take their rightful place as equal participants to and contributors in our cultural narrative.
Maria Giese, Summit Co-Chair and co-author of the white paper said: “Hollywood has kept women filmmakers shut out for decades because it is allowed to self-regulate and faces no effective oversight body. Now is the time to stop relying on inside-industry solutions and demand the opportunity for equal participation in our nation’s cultural narrative.”
Getting doors to open in Hollywood as a women is extremely hard, as I have found out firsthand along with Laurie Hart, co-writer and producer on our current film project HART, I very much hope this new paper will help bring about a much needed change. Women in film must support each other and the Women’s Media Summit are certainly doing their part, now we must do ours and get these plans in full action.
To download the white paper: