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3 simple tips to increase gender parity in your films

March 8, 2017

• Jessica Martin

Today is International Women’s Day, which has a long and storied history. IWD  has gotten a lot of attention from the Women’s March, who have organized this year’s A Day Without a Woman initiative.

 

But in Hollywood, every day kind of feels like a day without women. Maybe we could do a reverse walk out, where instead of leaving the offices and sets, we swarm them like a qualified and creatively stimulating swarm of bees. Because no bees, no increased box office revenue, amirite?

 

Of course, I’m preaching to the choir about gender parity if you’re reading the Seed&Spark blog. But if you are a male ally reading this, or even a woman, here are three small changes I’ve made to increase the gender parity on my projects...and you can, too! 

 

1. Request that male characters are changed to female characters.

I’ll ask myself, does this character need to be male? Sometimes it does, but sometimes not. For example, I hired a screenwriter to write a script for me and there was a supporting character that was written as a male per the habit of the genre. There really wasn’t any reason this character HAD to be male. So I requested it be changed to a woman of color. Easy peasy. The writer made the changes I asked, and it ended up providing a richer interaction for our female protagonist.

 

2. Don’t know any female crew members? ASK.

I’m currently producing my first feature, and my first project in California. In Seattle, I could just make some calls from the contacts in my phone and have an entire crew. Being new to LA, I don’t know many crew contacts. So I perused the Ms. In the Biz database. I also sent an email out to a women’s group I’m a part of and, boy howdy, can I tell you some INCREDIBLE female DPs, editors, sound technicians, line producers, and pretty much any other person you would need. I’m now making a concerted effort to keep the crew at a minimum of 50% women.

 

3. Tell stories about women.

We’ve seen the impact that Hidden Figures has had. And Supergirl. Of basically any story where an underserved group is represented. Women need to see themselves onscreen in a non-sexualized, Bechdel test passing, agency maintaining way. Maybe if we get so used to seeing women being respected and paid equally, we won’t need A Day Without A Woman.


While we are waiting (and consistently working) for gender parity, let’s make sure to celebrate women right now. Let’s be women who help other women. Let’s pull each other up. And fellas, find a woman in need of a mentorship, a leg up, or a simple sincere thank you for all the paid, underpaid and unpaid work she does. There’s always something, big or small, we can do. Together, next year's International Women’s Day can be a celebration of the progress we have made.

Read more by

Jessica Martin

Jessica Martin is an award-winning actress and is currently producing her first feature film, Abby and Tabby Alone in the Desert.

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