- Friday, Oct. 26, 2012
- 0 Comments
- LOS ANGELES
This is the first of a three-part series exploring the state of gender and race in commercial and entertainment production. In this initial installment, we focus on women--or the lack thereof--in the business, with some industry research on women in production and feedback from female entrepreneurs, executives and directors.
On December 12, GSD&M in Austin, Texas, will host its third annual Small/Diverse Vendor Business Summit in which women- and ethnic minority-owned companies come to the agency to meet with senior management and key decision-makers.
"In the advertising industry, relationships are key as far as selecting vendors," said Max Rutherford, vendor/partner diversity director and small business liaison officer at GSD&M. "It's crucial to have face time, to go beyond clicking on links and swapping e-mails. You need to have an in-person dialogue so that decision-makers here have some sort of communication, a touchpoint with these vendors so they're no longer strangers to us."
Typically GSD&M sends out some 300 invites to female and minority vendors, with 60 to 70 turning out for the Summit. Rutherford researches and sifts through prospective vendors, including those that are certified and vetted by nonprofit organizations as being female or minority-owned, the latter certification coming from the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) while female ownership is confirmed by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
However, if GSD&M finds a worthwhile company that hasn't received certification, the ad agency will still include that shop in its Summit.
"We're out to find vendors to do business with. But if they don't fit with our clients' needs, we mentor them, give them some advice, tell them what they need to do in order to compete for our business," said Rutherford. In the same mentoring vein, Rutherford noted that GSD&M will help and inform deserving companies as to how to gain the proper WBENC and/or NMSDC certification so that they are more firmly in the running for business at GSD&M and throughout the marketplace.
As for why seeking out these vendors is so important, Rutherford explained it's simply "good business and the right thing to do." Expounding upon the "good business" assessment, he said, "Based on economic value, women make over 80 percent of purchasing decisions in the household. Minorities have increased purchasing power. We need to reach out to them. And part of that reaching out is showing our dedication to doing business with minority and women-owned companies that are qualified. This isn't philanthropy. It's just good business."
For this initial installment of our three-part series on women and ethnic minority representation in the industry, SHOOT canvassed an industry cross-section of females who are either owners or in positions of influence at their respective companies. One respondent, Lauren Schwartz, cited the Small Business Summit. "GSD&M is an agency on the forefront," she observed. "I went to a diversity day at the agency where they welcomed women/minority-owned companies to meet the decision-makers. Like this experience, we need people to put their money where their mouth is and support giving women-owned companies a shot."
Numbers However, a Directors Guild of America (DGA) report released last month found that women seemingly aren't getting that shot when it comes to directorial gigs in series television. The report analyzed the ethnicity and gender of directors hired to direct primetime episodic television across broadcast, basic cable and premium cable. On the gender side of the findings, the DGA study found that females directed 15 percent of the 3,100 episodes produced in the 2011-'12 network TV season and the 2011 cable TV season from more than 190 scripted television series. The prior year's revised DGA study found females directing 14 percent of episodes. That 14 percent consisted of 11 percent Caucasian females and three percent minority females. The rise to 15 percent for the most recent study year broke down to 11 percent Caucasian females and four percent minority females.
The Emmy Awards also offer little solace. For example, this year Lena Dunham for HBO's Girls was the lone female directing nominee in all categories, including drama, comedy, miniseries and variety programs. Since 1959, when directing awards for comedies and dramas were established, three women have won Emmys: Betty Thomas in 1993 for Dream On; Karen Arthur in '85 for Cagney and Lacey, and Mimi Leder in '95 for ER.
As for feature films, just 3.6 percent of all directors on the 100 top grossing films of 2009 and 13.5 percent of writer were women, according to a 2011 study by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. The Oscars started in 1929 but it wasn't until 2010 that a woman finally won the Best Director honor, when Kathryn Bigelow earned that distinction for The Hurt Locker.
As for that aforementioned SHOOT survey, a series of questions were posed to women who have established themselves in different sectors of our industry. The feedback comes from strong voices articulating thoughts on the state of women in business today as well as personal reflections and observations.
Here is the full list of questions posed:
Professional: • Do you own the company? If so, what year did you launch it?
• If your business model has changed over time, please briefly tell us about it.
• How did you get your start in the business?
• What was the biggest challenge or obstacle you faced as you made your ascent in the industry?
Opinion: • What do you think would be the biggest challenge or obstacle if you were just starting out today? Would it be easier or more difficult (and why?) to establish yourself professionally and to attain your current role as an executive or leading creative or artist?
• Is there a shortage of women in the advertising and entertainment production community? If so, do you perceive this as a problem and why?
• And if so, how can the industry improve the situation? What steps can be taken to rectify such a shortage?
• In what roles is the shortage most profound? Directors? Producers? Executives? Creatives? DPs? Editors? Post artisans? Music/sound?
Personal: • Are you married?
• Do you have kids - how many, how old?
• Can you share a poignant or funny "being a woman in a man's world" story with us.
• What's the biggest challenge in balancing your professional and personal life?
• If you could have a do-over, what career would you pick for yourself?
• We all hope to retire some day. What do you want to do in retirement/where would you live?
Here's a full rundown of what survey respondents shared:
Click here to see part 1 of the responses (last names A to G)
Cristina Anderlini of Girl Factory, Shannon Barnes of SapientNitro, Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin of Tribe, Inc., Laura Belsey of Shadow Pictures, Michelle Curran of Amber Music, Fay Dattner of Dattner Dispoto and Associates, Madeline Di Nonno of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Nicole Dionne of PrimalScream Music, and Lesli Linka Glatter of Whatever Lola Wants Productions.
Click here to see part 2 of the responses (G-L)
Bonnie Goldfarb of harvest, Jennifer Golub of Let There Be Dragons, Samanta Hart of Foundation Content, Phyllis Koenig of Uber Content, Leslie LaPage of Le Femme International Film Festival, Kathrin Lausch of Pink Pony Productions, Terry Lawler of New York Women In Film and TV, and Lola Lott of charlieuniformtango and Liberal Media.
Click here to see part 3 of the responses (M-R)
Stacey Mokotoff of BBS, Ramaa Mosley of Trio Films, Mardrie Mullen of Clairmont Camera, Liza Near of Mullen, Valerie Petrusson of Deluxe Creative Services, Susanne Preissler of IM (Independent Media), Michelle Ross of HSI, and Ethel Rubinstein of Lively Group.
Click here to see part 4 of the responses (S-Z)
Lauren Schwartz of kaboom, Rhea Scott of Little Minx, Shari L. Shankewitz of William Morris Endeavor (WME), Liz Silver of Believe Media, Jo Steele of Steele Studios, Cami Taylor of Crossroads, Monica Victor of TracyLocke, and Jessica Yu of Nonfiction Unlimited.
Thirty-Three Thank Yous
Editor's note: Roberta Griefer, publisher & editorial director, SHOOT Magazine / SHOOTonline, provides context and perspective on this survey:
What do you get when you ask 33 women in production 15-plus questions about their professional and personal lives? Well, when I asked the questions, I hoped for thoughtful introspective responses shedding light on who they are, how they reached where they are in their careers, and what the similarities and/or differences were in their personal reflections about being a woman in production. My goal was to have an article that might inspire women starting out in their careers--or for that matter at any point in their careers--who could benefit from a dose of female camaraderie. The responses from the cross-section of production company owners and production industry creatives and executives surpassed my expectations and were thoughtful and introspective, portraying a group of passionate and dedicated individuals who are generous about sharing their experiences and lessons learned with others. Thank you very much to each woman who participated in this article. There are so many more women whose interesting and informative perspectives I would have loved to include; I'm sorry that we could not include you all.
Please look for Part II of this series which will be published in the November 16th issue focusing on minorities in production, and Part III that will appear in the December 14th issue where we will attempt to offer conclusions on what we learned about women and minorities in production. If you have suggestions on people or topics for us to consider for Parts II and III, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Women and Minorities in Production, Part III, click here.
For Minorities in Production, Part II, click here.
For Minorities in Production, Part 1 of Survey Responses, click here for respondents Carlos Guiterrez of Magnet Filmworks, Wendell Hanes of Volition Sound Recording, Malcolm Hardiman of Hack Studios, Eric Johnson of Trailblazer Studios, Jackie Lee of Company 3, Dora Medrano of Carbo Films, Jo Muse of Muse Communications, and Juan Pablo Oubina of Grupo Gallegos.
For Minorities in Production, Part 2 of Survey Responses, click here for respondents Bernanette Rivero of The Cortez Brothers, Elena Robinson of R/GA, Erika A. Salter of Salter Entertainment Group, LLC, and Paula Walker of Strato Films.