A Panel Discussion at the Inaugural Produced BY: NY

The Ms. Factor: The Power of Female-driven Content

Held on October 25 in New York City, the panel — The Ms. Factor: The Power of Female-driven Content — was held on October 25 in New York City, as part of the Inaugural Produced BY: NY event sponsored by the Producers Guild of America.

Panel Description: Audience demographics and buying power are changing. The power of females at the box office reigned supreme this past summer in terms of on-screen presence and audience turnout. A look at the 100 highest-earning movies of 2013 reveals that on average, movies with a female protagonist earned 20% more than movies with a male protagonist. So why the overall shortage of female protagonists and women filmmakers? What hurdles or opportunities does the current environment present for producers seeking to tell stories about girls or women?

The Ms. Factor: The Power of Female-driven Content | SydneysBuzz

Cathy Schulman


The panel moderated by Cathy Schulman (“Crash;” “The Illusionist;” President, Mandalay Pictures & Women In Film LA) featured Kelly Edwards (VP Talent Development, HBO), Lydia Dean Pilcher (“Cutie and the Boxer;” “The Lunchbox;” “The Darjeeling Limited;” Vice President: Motion Pictures, Producers Guild of America), Stacy Smith (Director, Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative, USC Annenberg), and Lauren Zalaznick ( “Kids;” “Zoolander;” Media Executive Founder & Curator, The LZ Sunday Paper).

The printed information sheet ‘Females in Film & TV Facts: On Screen Behind the Camera, and Career Barriers Faced’ was available to attendees from panelist Stacy L. Smith.

An Overview:Onscreen Portrayals
Prevalence of Females across 100 Top Films from 2007 to 2013:

Percentage of female characters in 2007: 29.9% and in 2013: 29.2%
Percentage of films with gender parity in 2007: 12% and in 2013: 16 %
Percentage with female lead/co-lead in 2007: 20% and in 2013: 28% Behind the Camera
Prevalence of Female Filmmakers across 100 Top Films from 2007 to 2013
Percentage of female directors in 2007: 2.7% and in 2013: 1.9%
Percentage of female writers in 2007: 11.2% and in 2013: 7.4%
Percentage of female producers in 2007: 20.5% and in 2013: 19.6%
Gender ratio in 2007: 5 to 1 and in 2013 5.3 to 1

Independent Film Behind the Camera
Prevalence of Females Behind the Camera at Sundance Film Festival 2002-2012

Director: Narrative 16.9% Documentary: 34.5%
Writer: Narrative: 20.6% Documentary 32.8
Producer: Narrative: 29.4% Documentary 45.9%
Cinematographer: Narrative: 9.5% Documentary: 19.9%
Editor: Narrative: 22% Documentary: 35.8%

The Prevalence of Female Filmmaker across 120 Global Films from 2010 to 2013 in the United Sates:
Directors: 0, Writers: 11.8%, Producers 22.7% and the Gender Ratio 3.4 to 1.

For more information on these reports: http://annenberg.usc.edu/pages/DrStacyLSmithMDSCI

 Kelly Edwards
Kelly Edwards

Moderator Cathy Schulman opened the discussion with the goal for the panel — to discuss some of the myth-busting in the industry and the deep set cultural ennui.

Cathy Schulman: How do we break the status quo?

Lydia Dean Pilcher: There is a perception in our industry that female-driven content is not commercial. We see that’s not true. Women are driving the conversation. We have a responsibility to debunk perception. Finance models are driven by foreign sales estimates and the myth is prevalent among foreign sales agents. We have new data for female-driven content internationally.

Cathy Schulman : Statistically 93 percent of foreign sales buyers are men,

Stacy L. Smith: On screen, less than one-third of the speaking characters are girls and women, and if you are trying to appeal to the women audience, you’ve lost proportion. Behind the camera, there’s a fiscal cliff; very few women are attached as directors in narrative films. Women are perceived as less confident to lead a production crew. Internationally, female-driven films made more money. The audience is there, but authenticity is lacking due to who’s behind the camera.

Lauren Zalanick
Lauren Zalanick

About Television and Cable

Lauren Zalanick: In television there is some movement that may be systemic or cyclical, we don’t know. The most powerful showrunner today is not the most powerful female showrunner, it’s the most-powerful showrunner — Shonda Rhimes. The heat around television programming now is based on strong female characters.

To read more and find out what I asked the panel: