A new mentoring scheme to help female filmmakers has been announced at the Realscreen summit in New Orleans.
The Propelle business accelerator scheme has been launched by Abby Greensfelder, chief executive of Everywoman Studios, who is also investing $20,000 in the selected projects.
She is being joined by Jane Root, founder of Nutopia, and Julie Bristow, who runs Bristow Global Media in Toronto, as the inaugural mentors on the scheme aimed at supporting women working in non-fiction programme-making to land commissions, and to help bring more diverse voices to the screen.
The scheme was announced during a special Realscreen session, ‘Propelling Women in the Unscripted Industry: The Road Ahead’.
Greensfelder said the catalyst had been the election of Donald Trump and the hashtag Metoo and Time’s Up movements. The programme is designed to help advance the careers of up-and-coming female filmmakers by pairing them with female-owned production companies and female CEOs. The mentors will provide both support in developing their projects – getting them ready to be pitched and sold - as well as broader business mentoring.
The scheme aims to have new mentors each year who, in collaboration with Everywoman Studios and Realscreen will select a handful of projects to take from concept to pitch.
“As a female creator and production company head who has been on both the buy and sell sides of the business, there is a glaring hole in the world of non-fiction when it comes to female-created content,” said Greensfelder. “Propelle aims to work with new and diverse voices who will bring stories and fresh perspectives to the table.’’
“This initiative is designed to narrow the gender gap that persists in the non-fiction production community. We’re looking forward to doing our part in bridging it,” said Claire Macdonald, VP and publisher of Realscreen.
Speaking at the Realscreen launch, Root said that although Metoo had been a huge leap forward for women in the industry there were swathes of the TV industry where the culture had not been ‘’touched.’’ ‘’There are still patterns where young women coming into the sector are not accelerated as fast as they could – or should – be.’’
Data showed that there was a significant proportion of women dropping out of the industry in their 30s – when many start families – and in their 50s. That made it difficult to find women candidates to fill senior production roles, like Showrunners, while the majority of companies and agents were men.
Kate Beal, chief executive of Woodcut Media, said companies should take a more flexible approach to managing their production talent – offering them the opportunity to work from home for example – in order to retain good people. ‘’If I have good people working for me, it is good business. They are making money for the company,’’ she said.
The three Propelle finalists for 2020 will be announced in April 2020, with the winning project announced in June 2020 at Realscreen West in Dana Point, CA. Interested female creators can find out more information and apply here.