Tackling the film industry's gender pay gap
The pay gap between men and women in the workplace is acknowledged and beyond debate. In many western countries, men are paid an average of 20% more than their female colleagues. Globally the figure grows to around 30%.
The reasons for the continuing pay gap remain controversial and open to debate. Women are more likely to take time away from work for childcare, thereby affecting their ability to gain experience and progress their careers. This in turn leads to queries as to whether it's reasonable for women to provide the lion's share of child care. Because the argument is ultimately about people's preferences, a completely objective and qualitative analysis is probably impossible.
Nonetheless a pay gap persists, and it is not particularly difficult to find at least anecdotal evidence of direct gender discrimination. Of the women consulted for this article, about 25% reported unambiguous incidents of misogyny on set, almost invariably uncovered via a sympathetic male colleague.
"I've been fired off a job because I was a woman," says one LA-based director of photography, who, in common with all the contributors to this article, spoke on condition of anonymity: "[The producer] made a couple of comments when he was interviewing me which I thought were a little shady. He said for example: 'I guess, if you're not lying on your resume, then you can handle it.'
"Later," she continues, "I got a call from the producer, and was told that my camera was being cut for budget reasons." But the position was replaced - with a man. Later the producer was heard saying he should have never fired herâ€¦
Despite this, it is very difficult, in the main, for producers to exercise direct discrimination in below-the-line positions which are generally either unionised or paid on an equal-rates-for-all basis on smaller, low-budget productions. Rates are generally public in these circumstances and any gender discrimination would be instantly apparent.
One female UK broadcast camera operator with 16 years of experience commented: "I can honestly say I have never noticed a difference in pay between male and female operators. Maybe it's because I started off as staff at [a large broadcaster] and we were on a salary which was determined by experience. We were all on the same salary from the day we started till the day we got made redundant. I have now been freelance for the last four years and again I have never noticed a difference in pay."
Conversely, in above-the-line roles, or in any role not covered by union agreements where rates are subject to individual negotiation, it is practically impossible to objectively assess whether discrimination is taking place.
"I really am useless at negotiating my rate," admits one female director of photography. "I've started saying to people 'why don't you tell me how much you want to pay me...' When I do have to negotiate my rate I seek advice from my (male) partner who seems to be very good at negotiating and seems to get much better results than me."
Unfortunately, in this specific area, this sort of anecdote is the hardest evidence we're likely to see. "
Also on The Knowledge
ITV2 is reviving original reality TV format, Big Brother, to launch on ITV2 and ITVX next year.
Filming begins this week in Liverpool on a major new Paramount+ drama, a prequel to the iconic hit film Sexy Beast.
The BBC has published a report confirming it spent £44m on diverse and inclusive content last year.
Buccaneer Media, producers of Marcella and Crime, is adapting The Doll Factory for Paramount+.
Broadcast and the Edinburgh TV Festival are joining forces to discover how people feel about working in the TV industry and what it can do to help them thrive.
Newly-launched ITV Studios label 5 Acts Productions has optioned the rights to The Last Party, the latest thriller from Clare Mackintosh.