- Monday, Oct. 3, 2016
- NEW YORK
Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) Commissioner Julie Menin has announced the launch of a groundbreaking series of initiatives targeting the underrepresentation of women in film and television. Study after study has confirmed that women--along with people of color, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities, and other groups--are consistently underrepresented both on camera and behind the scenes. For the first time ever, a municipal agency will be launching five initiatives aimed at addressing gender inequity in the film, theatre and television world: (1) a $5 million fund that will provide grants to support film and theatre projects by, for and about women; (2) pitch workshops for women filmmakers and a film financing conference connecting women filmmakers with financing for their projects; (3) a screenwriting contest for NYC screenwriters to broadcast a six-episode series on New York City’s channel 25; (4) an inspiring new block of programming on channel 25 focused entirely on women and their perspectives; and (5) a report analyzing the gender inequity of directors in the film industry.
“The de Blasio administration is committed to expanding employment opportunities and making sure New York City is a great place to live for all,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, honorary chair of the Commission on Gender Equity. “As we grow our entertainment industry, it is only logical to make sure our women and girls have the skills they need to fill these jobs. We will encourage more women to follow their dreams of working in the entertainment industry and give them the tools to do so. And thanks to the good work of Commissioner Menin, our young girls will see more women in media and have more role models.”
“We are thrilled to be launching these five groundbreaking initiatives – concrete actions that will serve to elevate the role of women in the entertainment industry,” said Menin. “Women are not a niche market. It’s incredibly discouraging that while women comprise 52% of the City’s population, less than 10% of the top grossing films are directed by women. I hope that our efforts pave the way for others to follow suit, and look forward to seeing these initiatives make a substantive impact on filmed entertainment in New York City.”
The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film released results of its 2015 study showing that women made up just 7% of directors on the top-grossing 250 films, 18% of individuals directing independent narrative features, and 29% of directors working on documentaries. In February, USC’s Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication released a study that demonstrated “an inclusion crisis,” according to its author, Professor Stacy L. Smith. Only 33.5% of speaking characters in films are women; behind the camera, just 15.2% of directors and 28.9% of writers across film, television and digital series were female; 22.6% of series creators were women across broadcast, cable and streaming content. This May, the ACLU revealed that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pursuing a comprehensive investigation of gender bias in Hollywood.
The MOME initiatives include:
The MOME Women’s Fund for Film and Theatre
MOME is introducing a first-of-its-kind grant program for filmmakers, playwrights and theatre producers working on projects by, for, or about women. The grants will provide funding at strategic moments to help the applicants shepherd their projects to successful completion. The MOME Women’s Fund for Film and Theatre will provide $5 million over 5 years to support film and theatre projects by, for, or about women over five years through cash grants.
“Speed Funding” for Women Filmmakers
Women filmmakers, especially those beginning their careers, face a formidable challenge in getting their projects funded. MOME will be hosting a film finance lab -- a “speed funding” event for 50 filmmakers –for projects directed by, for or about women. Participating filmmakers and their producers will be given an unprecedented opportunity to meet venture capital firms, angel investors and other funders. The MOME Finance Lab, which will be featured within the First Time Fest movie festival, will provide much-needed access to capital. The eligibility requirements include: at least one team member claiming NYC residency; one finalized script of 60 minutes or more by, for or about women; registration with the Writers Guild of America, East; and a director and producer attached to the project. Filmmakers will be invited to attend a pre-pitch workshop.
The MOME Script-Writing Competition
MOME will hold a script-writing competition and production project, which will invite New York City writers to submit 30-minute pilot scripts for an episodic series spotlighting stories by, for, or about women rooted in NYC’s five boroughs. Two winners will be chosen. Both of the winning candidates will have their scripts produced as a pilot that will air on NYC Media’s Channel 25 (NYCLife) and later be used as an important career calling card. Given the 18 million household-reach of Channel 25, this is an opportunity for the winning scriptwriters to have their work viewed by millions of people and earn a much-needed credit, which will help propel them to the next rung in their careers. Of those two pilots, one will be chosen to be produced as an episodic series on channel 25. Advanced students from the Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema will produce the winning scripts under the mentorship of Founding Director Jonathan Wacks and other industry professionals. The Made in NY IFP Media Center will administer the writing contest.
Launch of a Night of New Women-Focused Programming on NYC Media
MOME has produced and will air two inspiring new documentary programs focused on women that will air on Channel 25 as part of a weekly evening of programs focused exclusively on women.
The Vanguard: Women in Media - This show will feature both pioneers and emerging stars covering several mediums, including broadcast television, radio, print, new media. Each 30-minute episode will feature several leading women in media from pioneering TV personalities like Connie Chung and Suze Orman to former NY Times editor Jill Abramson and Essence Magazine’s editor Vanessa Deluca.
Her Big Idea – This is an 8-episode, half hour show featuring NYC-based women entrepreneurs who transformed a concept into a thriving company. Featured entrepreneurs include the founders of: Sarabeth’s, BarkBox, Fishs Eddy, Yumi Kim, Laura Geller, and more.
Women in the Director’s Chair: The MOME Report on Fairness in the Film Industry
MOME has commissioned an unprecedented and much-needed report analyzing the relationship between women and men directors based on an extensive database of information on the career trajectories of directors in the film industry. The study compares the career path of male and female film directors and tries to determine whether gender plays a role in determining their success. The study will be released in the late fall 2016.
A key focus of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is encouraging greater inclusion across all sectors of the entertainment industry.
Additional MOME initiatives to ensure greater representation in the film and TV industry include the Made in NY Writers Room, a mentorship program for TV writers from diverse backgrounds, launched in collaboration with the Writers Guild of America East and the NYC Department of Small Business Services; #NominateNYC, an initiative encouraging entertainment professionals from diverse backgrounds to nominate themselves or someone they know for consideration for membership by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; funding of over $8 million enabling the creation of the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, the first public graduate school of cinema in New York City, and a school committed to cultivating new and emerging voices in film; a $1 million grant to CUNY J-School’s Center for Community and Ethnic Media to bring a key sector of New York City’s media landscape into the digital age; and the Made in NY PA Training Program, which has trained more than 600 low income New Yorkers, many of whom were unemployed, for entry level jobs on film and television sets.