Our producer Simon J Green talks about going out of your way to find more women.
If you’re a man, you’ve got some options. The history of cultures and societies, spanning centuries, has put men on top. We ruled over vast monuments in ancient Egypt, we covered the earth in global war, and we went to the moon and stars. That whole time, we were absolute pricks to women, keeping them down with every dirty trick we could invent. Now, finally, in the least 50 years, we’ve been trying to see humanity as a whole, not as two sexes.
With all these impressive feats of humanity, you’d think going out of our way to bring about equality would be easy. Certainly down at the pathetic level of being an artist or screen practitioner in Australia, the stakes are so low, the rewards so paltry, the barrier to equality should be thinner than a male artist’s skin.
When you’re a producer or director, you have a contact list with names you regularly draw on to help you create. Favourites and preferences. I have such a list, organised into at least 5 of each category of skill I need. My 5 editors, graphic designers, web developers, directors, motion graphics artists, soundies, camera operators. Each of them has been tested on a job first, proved to be reliable, professional and talented before being added to my list.
When a job comes up and I need to send a quote or ask a question, I consult my lists. Each person has strengths and styles that exclude them from some jobs or make them prime candidates for others.
I started these lists years ago, and one day when I looked at them, I realised they were mostly men. About 90% of the names were dudes. I’ve written before about my failure to include women on the front page of my company website. In this list was the proof men were being chosen over women, because women weren’t even in my default consideration. I sucked.
So, I went out of my way to change it. I sought out women who were talented, reliable and professional in each of the categories. The men weren’t removed—the only time anyone is removed from my lists is if they’ve changed careers or states—but instead, my lists swelled to much more useful and flexible sizes.
Doing this gave me better access to more talent, better suited teams for individual jobs, and led to some of the best freelancer relationships I’ve ever had. I’ve also gotten jobs because of my diverse crew. All because I went a tiny little bit out of my way to equalise my lists. The culmination of that effort came in the stellar reviews we got for Night Terrors, a production that had ten women and two men. 83% women.
It also helped me see which parts of the screen and design industries are garbage at bringing up women. I’m still short on ladies who love:
- Motion graphics
- Camera operating
Feel free to reach out if you are someone who does these things. I don’t do as much video work any more, but I recommend my list to other producers and directors a bunch.
Thing is, men, go out of your way. A tiny little bit. Look at your list, your group, the people you draw on the most. Do they all have penises? Then go out of your way to find women with the same set of skills and traits. They OF COURSE are out there, you just haven’t bothered to look. And if you say you have but couldn’t find any, then you didn’t look hard enough and gave up too quickly. In fact, I have a bunch for you right now.
We ruled over the pyramids, started world wars and walked on the moon. By comparison, equality in Australian arts should be easy. One thing men can do is go out of their way.