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'We want gender parity': Aspiring female filmmakers to benefit from up to €400k in new funding

The Irish Film Board said these new initiatives will encourage new female talent to enter the industry.

Image: Shutterstock/gnepphoto

THE IRISH FILM Board (IFB) has announced a series of new funding opportunities that it says will go towards achieving “gender parity” in the Irish film industry.

Budding female filmmakers will be able to avail of funding of up to €400,000 to produce a feature film, with an aim to achieve an equal level of funding for male and female applicants across a range of projects.

Dr Annie Doona, chair of the Irish Film Board, said that the direct funding offers will “incentivise an increased number of applications from female-led talent and will support, empower and elevate Irish female talent working within the industry”.

Unconscious bias

In December 2015, the film board announced plans to address the under-representation of women in Irish film.

Upon launching its plan, it noted that, between 2010 and 2015:

  • 16% of production funding applications came from projects with female writers attached.
  • 14% came from projects with female directors attached.
  • 36% came from projects with female producers attached.

It says that significant progress has been made since then, with 70% of IFB-funded short films to premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh this week having female directors attached.

Earlier this year, unconscious bias training was mooted as a way of making the film industry here more diverse.

Unconscious bias is defined, by the University of Warwick, as “a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control”. It says that it causes our brain to make quick judgements and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.

Donna told TheJournal.ie that this was something the IFB was seriously considering. She said: “We have talked a lot in the board – which is 50/50 male and female – we’ve talked a lot about unconscious bias and [Deputy Chief Executive] Teresa McGrane in particular has been talking to companies who deliver unconscious bias training and saying we could get those guys in to work… with the industry.”

Achieving parity

To follow on the aim of achieving 50/50 funding provision for men and women in the industry, the IFB is rolling out this new series of funding initiatives aimed at women.

They are:

  • A new low-budget production programme for emerging female writers and directors. Following tailored workshops, mentorship and training, there will be an opportunity to apply for support to produce a feature film with a budget of up to €400,000 fully funded by the IFB.
  • Increased support of up to €100,000 for feature films that are creatively led by an Irish female writer(s) and director(s).
  • Making one round of funding applications on the Screenplay Development scheme each year available to female applicants only.
  • A new gender equality and diversity subcommittee for the IFB to be responsible for implementing these measures to attain gender parity.

Doona said: “These initiatives represent the continued commitment of the IFB to achieve gender parity within the film, television and animation sector.

We are of the view that whilst a lot has been achieved in developing the careers of female writers and directors, not enough has been achieved in relation to increasing the actual funding applications received by the IFB, with female talent attached. 50/50 parity of funding remains our goal.

Read: Where are the women? Unconscious bias training planned to make Irish films more diverse

Read: Tired of how women are represented in films? You’re not alone

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Sean Murray

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