From Her Point Of View (FHPOV) is a professional training programme for women looking to make a career in film or TV. It is the brainchild of Noomi Yates, who masterminded the programme into reality at the Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) in Bristol. There is a huge misrepresentation of women in the film and television industry requiring much necessary attention. KWMC’s aim is to challenge the imbalance of women in film and TV using this programme as a tool to support them, give them a voice and aid them to progress their career by offering training, support and facilities to make films of their own. The aim is to give a leg up, to open doors in order to allow more female talent into the creative industry.
An eye-opening report was commissioned by Directors UK (written by Stephen Follows), which revealed that in 2014 women directors made up just 11.9% of UK films; a dismal increase from 2005, just behind at 11.3%. That's a 0.6% improvement in nine whole years!!
The BFI reported in 2012 that just 16.1% of writers were female from the 372 UK independent films released in the UK between 2010-2012. UK-USA studio titles have an even lower representation of women: 6.7% directors and 4.9% writers. The bigger the budget, the less likely they are to invest in female talent. "Too high a risk" is apparently the whispers that cometh from many an exec above.
As quoted by FHPOV, “it’s time to change the lens and see things from a new perspective...” In 2016, KWMC received funding from Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds, to deliver an intensive film training programme for women. The three-month intensive training programme started in January 2017 with 14 women making up two crews. They meet up one day and one evening a week to get stuck into a varied structure of training and workshop activities; screenwriting, sound recording, camera and lighting, 2D animation, production design, puppetry, and working with actors. The climax of the course is to produce two short films.
So who’s been eligible for this amazing opportunity? Women over 18 who would be classed as new entrants into the industry, which also included women who haven’t been in paid work within TV/film for more than a year, or have had a break for more than four years.
Each crew receives a financial bursary and support worth over £4k plus another £1k per crew for additional costs such as actors, props, costume and so on. Couple this together with each participant receiving 1:1 project mentoring and use of equipment, this is a powerful project.
While they’re on a roll, FHPOV held a Women In Film Networking Event with a panel of experienced crew, keynote speeches and networking opportunities. Film Curiosity went for a little curious spy and the event left us with a feeling of kickass inspiration for those women who want to succeed in this highly competitive industry. It gave strong insight and inspiration to us about those wishing to pursue, not just director aspirations, but areas that are barely represented by women at all; for example sound recordist, composer, key grip, camera, and art director.
It is well known that women are not often an equal in this industry, whether it’s due to less pay, less job promotion opportunities, general attitude towards women, or the belief that they can be invested in for film commissions. For those who have had children and taken a longer break it can be even harder for them to get back in and be taken seriously. It’s definitely time for change, and it is changing, but so slowly you can hardly tell.
The trick that the industry is missing is that women often have a different skillset. They have an innate ability to listen, which means understanding your colleagues, what they need from you, plus making them a great team player! If you’re not a team player and a pain in the butt to work with, word gets around and your work opportunities can easily dry up.
As writers, and having worked in the TV industry, it’s disappointing knowing there are so many creatives out there whose talent isn’t being utilised because of their gender: they can be easily overlooked.
Imagine if the TV/film industry were 50/50 women to men? How would that change the output we see today? The ideas, the working environment, the fluidity of talent .…there is so much to be gained.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if a programme like FHPOV was available in every region every 6 months? Why ever not?! Let’s inject this industry with a little spice, keep the ball rolling and nurture female talent for our future.
The FHPOV films Blood Warriors and Black Cherry are currently in post-production and being screened as a part of the Bristol Film Festival. You can see them Thursday 29th June at the Arnolfini, Bristol with doors opening at 18:15. More information about the event and how to buy tickets is available on the Bristol Film Festival website.