Archive for February 18th, 2009

Stage Survey Women’s Roles

18th February 2009

The Stage has created an online survey querying people’s perception of the quality of roles available to women and minorities in television and theatre drama.

It only takes a moment to fill in, so please take part.

Equity Petition Grows

18th February 2009

The Stage reports that the Equity petition launched last week in the UK to improve the quantity and quality of roles for women in drama broadcast on the BBC, Channel 4, and ITV has already hit 1,000 signatures, and includes celebrities like Playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker, producer Jenny Topper and actor Imelda Staunton. Equity claims that for every female character in a TV drama there are two male characters.

It also says that leading parts are “frequently played by male actors over 45″, but argues that women in this age group “start to disappear from our screens”, and calls on the major UK television channels to “take action to correct this imbalance”.

Staunton was joined in signing the document by fellow actors Maxine Peake, Roger Lloyd Pack, Harriet Walter and Charles Dance.

Peake, who most recently appeared in the BBC drama Little Dorrit, said she agreed “whole heartedly” with the petition and added she would like to see more “female-driven dramas”.

Lloyd Pack, best known for playing Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, said he had supported it “in the interest of equal rights” and added: “On a practical level, I’m aware of how difficult it is for my female colleagues to find work and on a cultural one, I don’t understand why a whole generation of women should be excluded from story lines as if they don’t exist. What I hope would be the result of this petition is that writers would be encouraged to include more older female characters in their scripts.”

The petition was created by a new steering group within Equity, dedicated to highlighting the issues regarding female performers.

It includes Equity vice-president Jean Rogers and actress Kate Buffery, who, with other members of the group, took the cast lists of all dramas shown by the major terrestrial channels over a week and found that of 4,565 roles, 2,899 went to men and 1,666 to women.

Buffery, 51, admitted it would be “difficult to shift the status quo” but added: “This petition is saying to broadcasters over 50% of your viewers are women and there is a big voice out there, and that’s what we are trying to tap into. The fact most TV is aimed largely at young male viewers is not okay, and it says something rather shallow about our society.”

She said that most TV dramas feature young, “nicely-packaged” female performers and claimed more interesting parts for younger women would lead to older women being taken more seriously.

The petition follows a Europe-wide survey conducted by the International Federation of Actors, which found that female performers have shorter careers than male ones and that 60% of women do not feel TV represents them in a realistic way.

Buffery said that although the petition is specifically about television, she hoped it would pave the way to open up discussions about other areas of the performing arts.

Anyone can sign Equity’s petition, which is online here.

SOURCES 2 2009

18th February 2009

SOURCES 2 is an advanced training programme offering intensive script development workshops in Europe for professional scriptwriters and teams of writers with cowriters, producers or directors with a specific film project for cinema and television.

It’s offering seven-day Script Development Workshops in the coming months:

Application fee: €100.
Participation fee: €1,800 per project/writer and €900 per second person committed to the project. Includes the seven-day session (accommodation and meals included, travel costs excluded), supervision during rewriting period, and the second session of one day per project (accommodation, meals, travel costs excluded).

For the workshop at the FilmCamp/Norway, 11th– 19th June 2009, applicants should be focused on feature film projects and creative documentaries.
Submission deadline: 1st March 2009.

For the workshop in Graz/Austria, November 2009, applicants should be focused on feature film projects and creative documentaries.
Submission deadline: 1st July 2009.

Information on how to apply to the workshops is on the web site.