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Women in Film

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The voices and perspectives of women are integral to telling the stories of our country, its culture and communities.We are committed to increasing awareness of gender equality in the New Zealand screen industry.

We are doing this by:

  • Publishing information on women in the screen industry

We will continue to publish gender statistics based on our funding information. We gather gender information from production crews on projects we fund, and share this with the industry each year. We believe what we learn from this information will help us come up with ways to increase the participation of women in the industry. A record number of women directors and writers received development funding in the 2016/17 and 2015/16 financial years and the latest feature film development statistics show an increase to the number of women directors, producers and writers applying for funds. 

  • Targeting a 50% participation rate in talent development

In 2015, when we launched our gender policy, we set a target of a 50% participation rate for women filmmakers across professional development initiatives. Since 2015, we have met or exceeded the 50% target, not just across professional development grants, but across all our talent development grants. In the 2016/17 year, women filmmakers made up 62% of people attached to approved Fresh Shorts funding.

This includes:

  • professional development awards
  • internships
  • existing annual programmes such as supporting attendance at the Big Screen Symposium and AnimfxNZ
  • Fresh Shorts funding.

The number of applications and recipients are published regularly and if we begin tracking below the 50% participation rate, we will actively encourage women to apply. 

• Engaging with women filmmakers

The Talent Development team actively engage with filmmakers . In the 2015/16 financial year, 53% of the team’s engagements have been with women filmmakers. 

Some of the initiatives have been:

  • Talent development support for eight wahine Māori writer/directors on feature anthology film Waru
  • Running a Talent Express programme for women directors
  • Supporting three women filmmakers to attend the Melbourne Film Festival’s Accelerator talent lab
  • A year-long DEGNZ incubator for women directors.

• An annual award 

In 2015, we awarded our first scholarship to a female filmmaker. Supported by Jane Campion, the JC CineFem scholarship for a female cinematographer was awarded to Maria Ines Manchego. 
In 2016, the award was supported by Gaylene Preston. The level of applicants was so high we increased the level of support to award three women directors: Gillian Ashurst, Alyx Duncan and Armagan Ballantyne. The third scholarship, in memory of pioneering wahine Māori filmmaker, Ramai Hayward, was awarded to Briar Grace Smith and Rachel House in July 2017. 

• Encouraging proposals from organisations that upskill women

Over the last year we have supported several initiatives for women suggested by industry guilds
These include:

  • Supporting the Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand's (DEGNZ) female talent incubator which has supported ten women directors as they work toward making their first feature film
  • Increasing core funding to Women in Film and Television (WIFT)
  • Supporting Pacific Islanders in Film and Television (PIFT) in running a directing internship programme for six Pasifika women directors
  • Making it mandatory that guilds and other industry organisations that receive funding from the New Zealand Film Commission report on the gender mix in their talent development programmes.

We will continue to encourage initiatives from industry organisations that support the professional development of women in the film industry.

New initiatives

In September 2017, three new intitiatives were added to the policy.  These are:

• Encouraging recipients of devolved funding to fund half of their projects with women writers and directors and publish their success rates.

This is a new initiative and will be analysed by looking at project slates to determine the representation of women writers and directors.

• Setting an annual goal of 50% female recipients for Early Development Funding (EDF) - counted across attached writers, directors and producers - to be achieved by 2020.

In the 2016/17 financial year, women filmmakers (across all roles) made up 44% of applicants, and 46% of approved Early Development funding.

• Measuring female director participation in feature film investment offers on both an annual and a three-year rolling average. By the end of 2021/2022 the aim is to have 50% participation. This will mean achieving an average of 50 percent from 2019/2020.

In 2016/17, fourteen films received production financing and 48% of the 23 directors attached are women.

Note: in 2016/17 there is the impact of Waru’s eight female directors.

Note: this includes the first time offer in this time period, but not films that were funded in an earlier year and subsequently topped up in 2016/17.

Key conclusions

When we analyse the 2016/17 applications and approvals for each of the key funds available through the Film Commission, women were slightly under-represented in applications for Fresh Shorts, Early Development and Production Financing. Therefore, our key strategies need to focus on increasing women applicants, particularly writers and directors. Also of note:

  • Across the industry, women represent 44% of all screen industry workers, which includes producing (production and post production), contracting, broadcasting, distribution and exhibition. (2015 statistics)
  • Women were under-represented in Fresh Shorts applications but this was addressed in approvals.
  • Early Development and Production Financing applicants under-represented women, but this was addressed, to some extent, in approvals.
  • Premiere Pathways applications under-represented women (37%). However, there was a small base size.
  • Approvals for Talent Development funds overall have at least 50% women.
  • When we look at pathways, women are well represented in producers transitioning from talent development initiatives to feature film funding, but less so writers and directors.

Pathways - movement of women from talent development initiatives to feature film development and production

Over a three-year period, Talent Development tracked the number of women who moved from a Film Commission talent development initiative to Film Commission-funded feature film development (or identified alternative pathway). The following table shows figures for the 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 years (a 3-year rolling average).

Role Number who transitioned Percentage of women
Writers 29 35%
Directors 21 33%
Producers 33 55%
Notes on calculations:

The Film Commission collects gender statistics for applicants for a number of funds.

  • One person may be attached to multiple projects within one fund. These statistics refer to individual practitioners and whether or not they were attached to at least one project that received funding over the period. To clearly track career development, where individuals are attached to two or more projects in the same role for the same funding program, they are only counted once.
  • These statistics have been collated from the 2016/2017 finanical year.
  • People are given the option of recording their gender as male, female, or gender diverse.
  • One person may apply for multiple fund sources within a given year – they are counted under each fund source.
  • Talent Development grants go to other creatives such as composers and actors as well as the key creatives. Note that the plank refers only to filmmakers.
  • It should be noted that the credits on projects can change from application to completion stage.
Last updated: 
Wednesday, 2 August 2017