Got a brilliant idea for a female-focused short film? Here’s how to get it funded.
In the aftermath of the Weinstein scandal, as multiple senior male figures in Hollywood were outed as alleged sexual harassers or predators, conversation frequently turned to the relative lack of women in senior roles in the film industry. If there were more women directors, producers, writers and high-ranking crew members, so one argument went, there would be fewer opportunities for men to abuse women.
“Clearly when the majority of people in power are these able-bodied straight white men, a side effect is sexual harassment on set and in the world.”
It’s true that the film industry is startlingly lacking in diversity of all kinds – particularly once you look at who’s working behind the camera. According to research by the UK-based organisation Women in Film and TV, women made up just 18% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 films in 2017.
Gender bias also persists in which films, and what filmmakers, are recognised with awards. Some 80% of winners at this year’s Bafta Film Awards were male, and just six women took to the stage to accept an award at the Oscars. On 13 May, 82 women stood on the steps at Cannes to highlight that just 82 films directed by women had ever been selected to feature at the film festival – compared to 1,645 films by men.
So, yes, we need more women in the film industry (as well as more people of all genders who are BAME, LGBTQ, working-class and disabled). But not just so those women can act as sexual harassment watchdogs. From Lady Bird to Girlhood, Selma to Lost in Translation, Mudbound to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Fish Tank to Persepolis, female directors have made some of the most compelling, rich and innovative films of the 21st century.
Beyond the directors’ chair, female screenwriters are almost always the best equipped to tell women-led stories with authenticity, wit and style: just look at Suffragette (written by Abi Morgan), Bridesmaids (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) and Thelma & Louise (Callie Khouri). And there are plenty of women working as award-winning editors, cinematographers and producers – although nowhere near enough.
That’s why Bumble has launched a competition for aspiring female filmmakers in the UK, offering five winners a grant of £20,000 each to make a short film.
The Female Film Force competition is open to women writers, directors and producers with an idea for a female-focused film that embodies the app’s stated values of “female empowerment, equality and kindness”.
Each film concept entered into the competition should have a female director, writer and producer. Pitches can be submitted via Bumble, Bumble Bizz or Bumble BFF: simply download one of the apps and keep swiping until you’re shown an in-app card titled Female Film Force (this shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes).
Once you’ve swiped right to the card, you’ll be taken to an online application form, where you should outline who you are, detail any relevant experience and provide a summary of the concept for your film.
If you need to recruit female filmmakers to join your creative team, the competition organisers suggest using Bumble Bizz – the app’s professional networking feature – to find women to work with.
Submissions will be judged by a panel of industry experts including broadcaster Edith Bowman, Stylist’s entertainment editor Helen Bownass and Kate Kinninmont, the chief executive of Women in Film & TV (UK).
“The fight for women to have equal rights and opportunities has to be taken seriously,” says Bowman. “The film industry has been in the spotlight for many months and although there has been a great deal of change and positive steps in the right direction, there is still a long way to go.”
She continues: “We need to see more stories by women, about women and told by women. Initiatives like the Female Film Force will give women from all backgrounds the opportunity to tell their story and be supported by the film industry throughout the process to hopefully launch into the industry and/or develop further.”
Applications close on 23 May – so get swiping.
Images: Getty Images / Chris Floyd for Stylist