Monday, July 16, 2018
  • Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016
Free The Bid Sparks Female Filmmaker Feedback
Director Yael Staav of Furlined
Women directors enthused over initiative to create more opportunities in commercialmaking
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Last month director Alma Har’el--who’s on the rosters of Epoch Films in the U.S. and B-Reel Films in the U.K.--launched Free The Bid, an initiative designed to put female directors more consistently in the running for commercials and branded content projects. A Free The Bid website (click here) has been activated with information on the program which calls for agencies to bid a woman director on every ad assignment. Several agencies have already pledged to do just that, including FCB Global, DDB North America, BBDO North America, McCann New York, JWT, Leo Burnett, Pereira & O’Dell, Mother, Joan, Phenomenon and 180LA. Free The Bid is also reaching out successfully to clients and production companies, a number of which have also committed to the program.

One such client is HP Inc. Antonio Lucia, global chief marketing officer of HP Inc., stated, “HP believes that when it has a team of people representative of the client it serves it will be more successful. This is a business imperative for HP. When you analyze our business, you see over 50 percent of the personal systems business is driven by women; in the printing business, 45 percent of the business is driven by women.”

Noting that HP has “invited agencies to significantly increase the percentage of women and people of color in creative leadership and key strategy roles,” Lucia added, “Not only do we expect one bid from women but as client we will insure that the bid is properly assessed by our teams. In that same spirit, HP takes the pledge to Free The Bid globally. We believe the creative process of our ad agencies will be strengthened and we’re excited to implement this pledge globally and give women a voice in advertising to the benefit of everyone, everywhere. We hope to inspire more brands to join us in this pledge and Free The Bid!” 

Female directors whom SHOOT connected with are enthused over the Free The Bid initiative. Yael Staav of Furlined, who was in SHOOT’s New Directors Showcase back in 2005, shared, “I’m very excited about the Free the Bid’s initiative to raise awareness. I hope this conversation continues to expand to include diversity, equality and all the unconscious biases that pervade our society and culture. This is only the beginning of the critical conversations that need to take place to promote equity for all the minorities in our industry.”

Staav added, “A movement like Free The Bid is necessary to promote more access to opportunities for women who don’t have the benefit of male privilege, or experience other barriers such as race or socio-economic status. Of course, I would rather be on a bid list because of my reel, than my genetics...I mean,  1 woman in a bid is still a minority and could be considered tokenism; however, if one woman’s career is helped as a result of this initiative, then it is a powerful step in the right direction and a place for us to begin deeper, meaningful conversations about inequality in advertising overall.” 

Director Lisa Rubisch of Park Pictures, related, “Hire women. But don’t hire us because we’re women. Hire us because we’re good. Hire us not only for yogurt and babies and shampoo and back to school. Hire us also for beer and sneakers and cars and explosions and humor. Free The Bid brings awareness that we are here, we are strong and we are hungry for great work.”

As for the Free The Bid roster, Rubisch noted, “I am thrilled to see the 130 formidable directors on the Free The Bid site and know the ranks are growing.  No one can look at those reels and say that female directors do not exist, don’t have the experience or decent work. It’s time.”

Director Alison Klayman of Washington Square Films, observed that Free The Bid “has the potential to make a real impact because it strategically targets and tries to expand access. It gives more women a chance to be in the room and to be considered on their merits and effort. That the initiative is also led by Alma, a talented and passionate woman director, gives me faith that there is real commitment here.” 

Klayman further noted, “My advertising work so far has never been defined by gender or women-focused brands/campaigns, and I love that. I have hope that this initiative will give me even more chances to do exciting and diverse work.”

Director Molly Schiot is with Honor Society, a production house with a directorial roster that is nearly 30 percent female. She described Free The Bid as being “the most important step that has been made in my career as a director.  Opportunity creates a larger possibility of landing a job for myself and my female peers. Which means they will get a decent budget. Which means their reels will get better. Which means that things will be fairer. Which means agencies can start talking about the quality of ones work with a pronoun that isn’t just he, his, or him.”

And director Haley Geffen of Bodega said of Free The Bid, “I love it. Just reading about it gave me the chills. Its exciting. It’s necessary. We have a strong voice and stories to tell. The advertising world should not discount our abilities to connect to consumers. We have Jedi mind powers! It’s true -- and amazing how we can extract information and performances from complete strangers and in turn tell meaningful stories,” 

Geffen noted that “I’ve had a pretty good run with the networks. And ironically most of my work is in sports. It may have taken me a little longer to prove myself--as a woman and as a director--but I’ve established myself pretty well and am taken very seriously in a traditionally male dominated world. In advertising it’s been a bit more challenging. Over the last few years I’ve been getting noticed more and have been put up for some pretty significant jobs. Won some and lost some. Obviously I’d like to see more women being awarded these jobs. It will only make us all better at what we do.”