AWD works to support and promote the work, visibility, and professional development for female directors through a variety of programs including screenings, educational events, and networking events both for their members, and the general public.
Reaching Out To The Hollywood Community
Melissa Goodman -- Guest of AWD Salon
Melissa Goodman, Director & Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Southern California was welcomed by an enthusiastic group of women in the entertainment industry.
Women directors are the ACLU’s priority case of serious civil rights and employment discrimination. Melissa believes that eradicating discrimination behind the camera, and behind our most powerful cultural products, will lead to less gender discrimination in the world.
Failure to Hire
After two years of their own investigation, talking to many women directors, the ACLU came to the conclusion that there are real, systemic, common barriers to employment. Rather than pursuing a class action lawsuit, where women directors would have to put their individual careers at risk, the ACLU sent a public letter to three civil rights agencies and created a splash in the Hollywood Media.
In May 2015 the ACLU asked one California and two federal civil rights agencies to investigate the lack of women directors hired in Film and Television so they would reach the same conclusion: that there was systemic discrimination going on throughout the industry.
Civil rights agencies have a special power: They can issue so called 'commissioner charges' and they can file ‘charges of discrimination’ in very rare situations where it is clear that there is a systemic problem. Once a commissioner charge is filed, the agency has additional investigatory powers to obtain documents or information from the partisan side charged with discrimination.
Around the 2017 Oscars, Deadline reported that the major studios had all received commissioner charges. If reports in the media are correct, and the ACLU has no reason to doubt them, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) currently is in secret settlement negotiations with the studios. It is in this phase when we need to push for the best solutions. In fact, the EEOC is open to ideas, and there is room for dialog.
At the end of settlement talks with the studios, when they reach an agreement, a public document will be filed in a federal court. This consent agreement will become a legal agreement that the agencies will have the power to enforce if studios are not following the terms. But what are possible solutions that will remedy the insidious nature of the current discrimination?
A possible solution is for studios to agree to policy and practice changes. For example, the EEOC can order each studio to adopt a plan to increase hiring of women directors by a certain percentage per year. That percentage has to grow each year until we reach a certain goal. To impose these goals for hiring targets is constitutional if an employer has engaged in discrimination and the goal is to get women back into equalization.
Some of the solutions the ACLU and EEOC have in mind: fund women director projects, put targets and goals on show runners, unconscious or subconscious bias training, have independent monitors on every show, require studios to submit data to the EEOC to review hiring practices, create bigger data bases of qualified women available to direct, and evaluate show runners as to how they are doing with respect to diversity as a requirement of green lighting their shows.
The ACLU is interested in finding solutions outside the EEOC framework. Melissa looks for incentives using the tax credit programs of many states to encourage more inclusive hiring. Knowing that the ACLU can’t make the change all by itself, Melissa wanted to hear from the women at the AWD Salon.
Possible Solutions We Discussed
- Setting targets on every level with agencies, executives, show runners, guilds, and have them report quarterly.
- Talent agencies have to hire more women in leadership positions so that more women will appear on the lists they present to buyers.
- Raise the number of women Critics.
- ACLU 'stamp of approval' for shows/films that have parity in hiring. The ‘Mark of Zorra’ as Victoria Hochberg suggested. - ACLU Incentive Awards to networks/studios/shows based on actual hiring numbers. - Have ACLU increase their social media push for parity.
- Utilize some of the “fine” money to help female filmmakers get their projects made or seen.
- Funds for women directors to produce their ‘proof of concepts.’
- Funds to pay a top director who ‘guarantees’ an episode directed by a first time director.
- Shadowing programs have to result in actual hiring, with people already working for networks/studios/shows excluded from those programs.
- Mandate for agencies to have a discretionary fund for up and coming clients to start their career with a first feature.
It was a privilege for AWD to host Melissa Goodman, a woman who lives her principles and pushes for movement in activism. A true advocate for civil rights and an inspiring woman all around.
Melissa Goodman loves to hear from all women in the industry and can be reached at the ACLU office in Los Angeles, via email email@example.com or via phone (213) 977 5288.
We are excited to announce a new partnership with Sundance and their 2017 NEXT FEST. Celebrating the renegade spirit of independent artists, this summer’s movie and music festival will showcase and honor several female artists including Dee Rees, Janicza Bravo and Marianna Palka. Stay tuned for details!
20th Anniversary Celebration Bash
You are invited! Sunday, July 9, 2017, 2:30 - 5:30 PM
Writer, producer and director Lou Simon began writing screenplays in 2010. Not wanting to wait to be “discovered,” Lou went on to write, direct and produce her first feature film. Never having been on a film set before, this was, in essence, her film school. Since 2013 Lou has written, produced and directed four feature films in four years: 'HazMat,' 'Agoraphobia,' 'All Girls Weekend' and '3.' The first three of these films have obtained distribution in various territories throughout the world. Her films have also won several awards at various film festivals. Her last film '3' was just completed and is beginning its film festival circuit.
Angela Gomes is an accomplished DGA director with experience in both single-camera and multi-camera episodic television. Her love of directing shows not only in the quality of her work, but also in her positive vibe on the set. In addition to her creative talent, Angela has over 10 years of experience as an episodic 1st assistant director, so she has extensive knowledge of the logistics specific to shooting a TV show. Angela Gomes is also an experienced writer with a knack for comedy, and is well versed in crafting story, defining characters and making things funny.
Cady McClain, a two-time Emmy award winner, has spent the past year traveling the globe, speaking to female directors of film and television and documenting their stories. The outcome is a five-hour serialized documentary, providing insider access to the skills and tools needed to succeed as a woman in the directing field.
Seeing is Believing: Women Direct invites viewers into a bracing and intimate conversation with women who are on the front lines of the film and television directing field. Major award winners, game-changers, and frustrated auteurs share what it’s like to be on the front lines. Considering all aspects of the directing experience for women, we learn how and why each remarkable woman successfully drives through creative, cultural, and professional obstacles in a deeply challenging profession.
The material is presented as a feature doc, a limited series, and as single interviews that will ultimately be made available online. The material is being worked into a book as well.
The goal is to offer “peer to peer mentorship” for anyone (of any gender) looking for guidance and real world experience as they pursue their dreams of becoming a visual storyteller. The project is a recipient of an Awesome Without Borders Grant!
What’s worse than being targeted with harassment because of your race, sex, religion, color, gender, size, orientation, disability, age, or origin? Being targeted while surrounded by bystanders who see what is happening, but then do nothing. It doesn’t have to be that way.
An anonymous donor has generously sponsored this FilmPowered class, making it possible for ten members to receive training in Bystander Intervention. In this online class you will learn how to do your part to safely protect your neighbors when bigotry and harassment collide in front of you.
Hollaback (www.ihollaback.org) has worked for years on issues of sexual harassment and has long been at the forefront of developing nonviolent interventions to public harassment (ranging from cat calls to assault). They share bystander intervention trainings with organizations doing important community building and culture changing work.
This article from Slate speaks to the importance of bystander intervention training following the Portland tragedy. And this recentBoston Globe article profiles a real-life story of bystander intervention with someone who took Hollaback’s training.
An Evening with Screenwriter Liz Hannah (THE PAPERS)
Join us for a moderated Q&A to hear about Liz's path from AFI to topping the Black List to having Meryl Streep star in her screenplay. With a background in producing and development, to current success writing in film and TV, Liz's experience offers great insight into navigating a multifaceted career in the media arts.
Liz's script THE PAPERS was ranked #2 on The Black List and is being directed by Steven Spielberg.
This evening is for professional writers to discuss craft and navigating Hollywood. Moderated by writer/director Rachel Feldman.
(Please arrive promptly and bring $3 to defray costs of parking permits which you will receive from the host.)
Maggie Mahrt was chosen as one of eight women to participate in AFI’s prestigious Directing Workshop for Women in 2017. She successfully completed her ambitious short film, UNBOUND as part of this endeavor and it is expected to receive much festival love.
Maggie is currently part of Fox’s groundbreaking and exclusive initiative, the Fox Filmmakers Lab, which gives her a crack at directing something from an existing Fox Franchise. Having spent some time working as the assistant to the showrunners on an NBC show, Maggie fell in love with the pace and world of television with a goal of directing in that space as well. She is in the Ryan Murphy HALF Foundation TV Director Mentorship program at Fox and is currently working on the A & E show UnREAL. Throughout all of these opportunities, Maggie has continued her work as a freelance filmmaker, creating original award-winning shorts, commercials, web series and branded content for the web.
Amy Taylor is a screenwriter and producer who got her start on the set of 'The Young And The Restless' and went on to work for the Motion Picture Literary Department at Creative Artists Agency. She served as Director of Development for filmmaker Kevin Donovan who helmed THE TUXEDO starring Jackie Chan, and she produced advertising and branded content projects for Viagra, Martini and Rossi, Cox Communications, Netzero, Virgin Mobile, X-Box, and Media Markt (Germany). She produced the award-winning documentary 'Childless by Choice' and raised funds for the upcoming feature documentary 'Desert Bloom,' currently in production.
Amy has strong relationships with many major TV and film production companies and has developed projects for Arthur Smith and Co., Berman Braun and Nickelodeon. She currently has film and TV projects set up at Cinema Revival, Ineffable Entertainment, and Terrimel Entertainment. Her script 'The Surrogate' took first place in both the Lake Arrowhead and Phoenix International film festivals and her teleplay 'Paradise Lost' landed her on the 2011 Top Hollywood Screenwriters to Watch List. Amy is a partner at Reelbooks Inc. and until recently served as lead writer for Hallmark’s subscription video on demand channel FEELN where her television series 'The 11th' starring Cloris Leachman, Floris Henderson and Ed Asner was released in May of 2016. Amy also recently completed a script for Poke Productions called 'My Baby Gone' starring Anna Van Hooft and Nicole LaPlaca which will play on the Lifetime Movie Network in 2017.
Sarah Phillipsis a writer, director, producer, and feminist. In 2014, she and Laetitia Leon formed Phileon Productions, a production company in Los Angeles that focuses on increasing the number of women in front of and behind the camera. Sarah has directed short films, VR content, online commercials, and interactive theatre over the past few years. Sarah’s short film "Smile: A Musical" made its World Premiere at Dances With Films Festival in June 2017, and the screenplay for “Smile, A Musical” won “Best Short Drama Screenplay” at Nashville Film Festival in 2016 and won “Best Libretto” at Moondance International Film Festival.
Writer and Director Patricia Santana studied Design and Arts in Barcelona, where she was born and raised. She completed several postgraduate programs at Blanquerna University, one of the most prestigious universities in Spain.
Patricia spent a decade working as an Art Director in award winning agencies like McCann Erickson Madrid and DDB Barcelona, as she started developing more interest towards film as a medium to express herself. A turning point in her life propelled her to pursue directing, moving to NY and joining NYFA, completing her education at UCLA years later.
Patricia has her permanent residence in Los Angeles, where she works as a commercial and fashion Director, and as a content creator. Some of her clients include UGG and Jason, and her projects have featured names such as Chrissy Teigen or Angela Lindvall.
Patricia also writes and directs narrative projects. Her first short movie, 'Emma’s Prize,' was showcased at several festivals, premiering at the renowned Los Angeles International Short Film Fest. Her last short movie, 'Streetlights,' starring child actor Paul-Mikél Williams (Westworld), is currently in postproduction.
At present, she's working on the script of her first feature, based on her short film 'Streetlights.'
Kayden Phoenix has been working consistently both in front of and behind the camera for almost a decade. Her years of experience as a model and actor has provided her a lifetime of exposure to creative film and television projects. These experiences have bolstered her unique perspective which she now focuses into directing. As an avid advocate of diversity, she hopes to equal the playing field with all the under-represented.
Christie Conochalla is a director who lives in Los Angeles, CA. She is known for her screwball lesbian romantic comedy "Once Upon A Zipper," her lesbian drama "August in the City" and is currently in pre production on her first dramatic feature "Forever Not Maybe" which is slated to finish principle photography July 2017. Conochalla is currently in development with two features: a lesbian thriller and a sci fi drama. As a lesbian, Conochalla loves telling lesbian stories and hopes to not only expand to all genres but for her work with lesbian stories to transcend the niche and find a home in the hearts of a wide, diverse audience.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Heidi Philipsen is a director, producer, writer & actress with 20 years of professional experience in international film, television and communications. She's directed multiple, award-winning short films ("Her Telling Heart," "A Fork in the Road," "Angel Inside,") regional commercials and music videos (Jocelyn & Chris Arndt) and is proud of "DARCY" as her feature debut. Heidi's a member of the The Director's List, Producers Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, AEA, the Motion Picture Institute’s Directors Alumni Club, NYWIFT, Founder & President Emeritus of UPWIFT, Chicago Women in Film & Television, and University of Michigan and Columbia University Alumni Groups. Her feature length script, "Emily Doe," written while a student at UCLA’s Professional Screenwriting Program, is in development.