Diversifying the industry

TIME’S UP Launches New Campaign to Shine a Light on Women in Production

Culture, Entertainment, Equity

Today, TIME’S UP Foundation has launched a new awareness campaign intended to encourage people of all backgrounds — especially those who have been historically underrepresented in entertainment — to consider the exciting possibilities that exist behind the camera in television and film as viable career options.

“We know that diverse workplaces are safer workplaces and, as part of our commitment to improving safety in the entertainment industry, TIME’S UP is advocating to make sets more inclusive and equitable,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the TIME’S UP Foundation. “This PSA and our new resources work hand-in-hand to show people the world of possibilities that are out there, and that women are capable of excelling at jobs that have traditionally gone to men.”

Starting now through the end of the month, a public service announcement, produced by the TIME’S UP Foundation with production funds contributed by YouTube Originals, will be airing in movie theaters nationwide. Narrated by Ava DuVernay and cast with real women in production, the video spot highlights some key film and TV industry on-set jobs.

As part of this initiative, TIME’S UP also developed a compendium of resources that:

  • Describes production jobs, from key grip to camera operator to set designer;
  • Outlines the skills required to perform those jobs; and
  • Provides practical information on how to land these jobs.

The resources also point people to organizations in major film hubs that provide mentoring, training, networking opportunities, and tools for job-seekers. Viewers of the PSA are directed toward the resources by simply texting FILMJOBS to 306-44.

The idea for the PSA came from the Women’s Production Group, a self-organized community within TIME’S UP founded and led by Dana Belcastro, head of physical production for Solstice Studios, Sara Fischer, head of production for Shondaland, and Debra Bergman, executive vice president of production for Paramount Television Studios. Pulse Films and YouTube Originals also collaborated with TIME’S UP on the production of the PSA.

The Women’s Production Group includes film and television production executives, cinematographers, casting directors, film commissioners, below-the-line agents, line producers, production designers, union reps, and many others who play key roles in production.  

“We’re so pleased to see the attention paid to the need for more women directors and cinematographers, but let’s be clear: when it comes to diversifying our sets, you have to also focus on the production roles on set,” said Fischer.

“On any given project, there’s only one director and one director of photography, but there could be 10 grips, 10 electricians, 20 drivers, and 15 carpenters. These are good, well-paid jobs that more women should know about and be hired for,” added Bergman.

In 2019, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released a study, Inclusion in the Director’s Chair, revealing that women represented:

  • Zero gaffers, one female best boy electric, four grips, and eight best boy grips across the 265 top films released between 2016 and 2018; and
  • Only 2.3 percent of composers, 15.5 percent of editors, and 18.3 percent of production designers.

For women of color in production, the numbers are even worse: women of color comprised zero directors of photography, 1.4 percent of editors, 1.5 percent of production designers and 1.6 percent producers. By educating women everywhere about job opportunities in production, this campaign aims to move the industry closer to gender and racial parity.

“Besides what are traditionally women led departments such as makeup, hair, and costumes, I am one of the very few women of color in a leadership position on a television or film set,” said Shawn Pipkin-West, a first assistant director for Raising Dion and Grey’s Anatomy who appeared in the PSA. “I am thrilled to be included in a PSA and to be a part of an initiative that shines a light on talented women in production and opens the doors for even more opportunities for women.”

You can watch the PSA, which will play in select theaters around the country through February 29, on the TIME’S UP website here. The entertainment job resources can be found here.

TIME’S UP Foundation

The TIME’S UP™ Foundation insists upon safe, fair, and dignified work for all by changing culture, companies, and laws. We enable more people to seek justice through the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund™. We pioneer innovative research driving toward solutions to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace through the TIME’S UP Impact Lab. And we reshape key industries from within so they serve as a model for all industries. The TIME’S UP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.