Skip to main content

Emerging Women Filmmakers Network

The first Emerging Women Filmmakers Network meet-up:  Lucy (l) and Lorraine (r), in front

Thanks to Lucy Holyoake and Lorraine Hughes, Wellington has a new and shiny Emerging Women Filmmaker’s Network. It began with a meet-up late last month, attended by about 50 women.

Lucy majored in Film at Victoria, where she did the practical courses, directed her first short documentary and fell in love with writing and directing. She’s now completing her Graduate Diploma in Media Studies where she’s researched and written about gender in film and media and she was happy to answer a few questions.

What inspired your initiative? How did you establish the parameters of who the group is for?

The idea of this group combines my passions for film and gender studies. Initially we opened it up to all woman of any skill level, but we quickly realised the gap we wanted to fill was for young or emerging women lacking experience. Being recent graduates ourselves, we both found it very hard to know what to do next and how to actually get work in the film industry. And this is something a lot of the women we met at the meet-up also found. There is a gap between study and industry work where we are losing our female filmmakers. Tertiary institutes have relatively even numbers of men and women. Then in the industry, the numbers drastically fall. What is happening in the middle there? Where do the women go? Maybe this network start to help push through the next generations of kiwi women and encourage them to keep pursuing filmmaking.

There are already well-established groups doing great work. What needs did you identify that are not met by WIFTNZ and other guilds, or by Welly’s Emerging Artists Trust (EAT)?

The gap I mentioned in between study and work really points to a lack of support for women who are not yet working in the industry, and lack practical experience.

WIFTNZ provides so many great events, which are beneficial to women at any stage, but they are largely for women in the industry, or with significant experience. It also became evident that only a very small number of women that attended our event were members of WIFTNZ, so there is a lack of knowledge about the events they do put on within the younger/less experienced demographic. EAT also has really great initiatives for emerging artists, but less so for the women who haven’t had much practical experience yet.

I think groups like ours can really help women to gain experience and confidence, by meeting collaborators and working on small projects together, and participating in practical exercises and workshops in a supportive environment that focuses on encouraging each other and developing our skills. Being a part of this group provides the opportunity to meet other like-minded female filmmakers and gives us a sense of community, and energies to bounce off.

How did the meet-up go?

We were so happy with how the meet-up went! It was the first time I had been in a room with so many women who share the same passion. The energy in a room of 50 filmmaking women was so exciting and we felt so energised by that. It was so empowering and it felt like we were all ready to get out there and do it together. I think it’s something a lot of women filmmakers would love to be a part of.

Many of the women that came let us know that they were really glad we’d decided to organise this, and felt excited to be a part of it and because we are fairly recent graduates ourselves we all want to get the same thing out of it.

You made a survey at the meeting. What did you learn from that?

Some of the key pieces of feedback we received were:

The desire for a community to be a part of and to be connected to, a community of like-minded women that provides a space for networking, collaborating, sharing work, discussion on specific film skills and a space for practicing and improving those skills.

There was a lot of emphasis on wanting to have a group for us all to work on projects together, to practice our skills as a group. Someone mentioned that actors do improvising workshops to continually practice their skills and that filmmakers need an equivalent to encourage growth and learning. For example, mini 48- hour-style exercises for emerging women, anthology films we can create together, short film festivals for emerging women judged by industry experts etc. 

More support to help bridge the gap between study and work. Many of the women that attended were either still at film school, or recently graduated and feeling stuck not knowing what to do next. The general feedback was that there wasn’t much support from the industry to help women filmmakers bridge that gap. What pathways could be more established to encourage emerging women filmmakers to pursue careers in the industry? If we want those gender stats to change, this is a gap that needs support.

More practical workshops and talks about specific skills in relation to the industry, specifically targeting women with no industry experience, e.g. workshops on directing, camera, editing, screenwriting and advice on how to get into those areas, more established practical mentoring schemes.

It was interesting to read this feedback, as there was a definitive shared sense of what type of support this group wanted. Some of it we can aim to do ourselves (like building that community and improving our skills together), some of it other industry organisations could consider. We are going to send our feedback to WIFTNZ so they can consider some of these ideas.

What’s happening next?

A whole lot we hope! We are holding our second meet up on 16th August at Toi Poneke Arts Centre where we'll screen the work of some of our members.

WIFTNZ is in the process of organising a workshop for emerging women filmmakers in Wellington with tips of what to do after study, freelance work, and hopefully some advice from the women out there doing it!

From there, we’ll keep having a mix of social meet-ups and panel discussions/workshops on specific areas of filmmaking. We’d love to get some guest speakers in for some of our events as well. And screenings of women’s work!

We just want to keep the momentum going and really establish a collaborative supportive community and then go from there. We’ve got plenty of big ideas up our sleeve, so we’re hoping to get a team of us together to figure out what this group can do.

Facebook (includes posts from women interested in similar groups in Auckland and the South Island)
August 16 Event

&! A few of the woman who attended the first meet-up are now collaborating on a short film, Walk a Mile, and are crowd funding some money for it! We can help!


Popular posts from this blog

Saving Mr. Disney: A Lesbian Perspective By Carolyn Gage

To stay focused when I'm writing intensively, I go to the movies in the afternoons. It's a kind of meditation that includes the walk down the hill to the cinema and back up again afterwards. And a few weeks ago, I saw three women-directed movies in three days: Rama Burshtein's Fill The Void, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's Inch'Allah and Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said. Maybe things have changed, I thought to myself, ever optimistic. But I also noticed that men wrote and directed Catching Fire, from a novel by a woman, about a young woman and produced by a woman. And then I read Vocativ's analysis of 2013's 50 top-grossing US releases. This shows that almost half were Bechdel Test-passing films and that they did better at the US box office than those that weren't. BUT except for Frozen, which Jennifer Lee co-directed (and wrote) men directed all 50. And then at the weekend, all three of the new releases reviewed in our local paper (with enthusiasm) told s…

The NZ International Film Festival – 1. New Zealand Women

The Context
This week, the United Nations women's agency, UN Women, joined forces with activist and Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis, to support the first global study of how women and girls are portrayed in family films. The study will examine the top-grossing international movies in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom. According to Geena Davis, the current dearth of female characters of substance in family films means that children are being taught that girls and women 'don't take up half of the space in the world'. And for Lakshimi Puri, acting head of UN Women:
Gender representation in film influences the perception of women and girls, their self-esteem and the relationships between the sexes... We cannot let the negative depiction of women and girls erode the hard gains that have been made on gender equality and women's empowerment.Also this week, in a  report for CNN, Melissa Silverstein of Women &…

Ally Acker's 'Reel Herstory'

I fell over Ally Acker’s work via this tweet. Not Ally’s tweet, you’ll notice, because she doesn’t engage with social media, which may be why I missed her before.

I was immediately curious about Ally's extraordinary magnum opus, Reel Women, the two-volume revised and expanded book and the 10 discs (see below) and the forthcoming Reel Herstory: The REAL Story of Reel Women. Introduced by Jodie Foster, Reel Herstory is a feature-length documentary that runs two and a half hours. It's in two parts. The first covers The Silent Era and the second Talkies Through Today (first ten minutes below).