“Confidence is vital for women in television”
Among the many seminars and sessions on Day Two of The Media Production Show (14 June) was a panel discussion called Celebrating Successful Women in Film and Television.
It was standing-room only as a largely female audience filled the theatre space to hear views and analysis from a panel of four notable industry figures: Emma Cooper (managing director, Pulse Films); Lucinda Hicks (COO, Endemol Shine); Nicola Daley (cinematographer) and Claire Poyser (managing director, Lime Pictures).
When asked about challenges in today’s landscape for women in film and TV, the answers were varied. Cooper said she felt them more now than when she started out, having worked in TV for 20 years on the editorial side, but said she had always felt supported.
Daley, who worked her way up via the traditional route in the camera department, largely in Australia, was more specific as she noted that perception was still a problem: “Comments that women can’t carry cameras make my blood boil.”
Poyser admitted being “blind to some of the gender challenges” as she had worked her way up via a more “gender-neutral, gender-agnostic route” - that of floor management.
Hicks’ path to success was through working on the business side of things, starting out as a management consultant. “I’ve never really felt disadvantaged. The main challenge is confidence, and my own perceptions of my ability. The whole ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ thing has never sat well with me.”
Confidence and self-belief were recurring themes. Poyser stressed the need to believe that any job is do-able, regardless of gender. She explained that the senior management team at Lime Pictures was 75% female “purely because they are the best people for the job” although went on to express her concerns about entry-level jobs for women in the industry. “It’s incumbent on all of us to get that changed.”
A scheme at Lime Pictures has recently seen the number of female directors working on Hollyoaks rise to nearly 50%.
The panel was in agreement when asked to offer advice to those starting out, stressing the importance of various mentoring programmes, networking and training schemes. Hicks said that as she rose through the industry it was the “incredible female role models who gave that diverse perspective”, before adding that the several of the largest UK indies are run by women.
Cooper summed up with: “Do not be an apologist. We don’t need to keep doing that; some of the language we use needs to change. Talk to your female role models - use them. Be open to the people you admire.”
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