Anna Serner, the CEO of the Swedish Film Institute (SFI) and leading global expert on gender equality in film, has said one of her next steps in Sweden will be making sure female filmmakers get access to the same production budget levels as men.
In her Moguls talk in Toronto yesterday, Serner said, “They [women directors] don’t get the big budgets, it’s because the production companies only still present male directors,” she said. “This is our next very important action, this is a big part of our ‘50-50 by 2020,’ we have a new action plan and one big point in that is to get women to get the bigger budgets as well.
”It’s amazing [this bias] still exists, we know female directors get big box office successes, higher ROU on those films. And yet they are seen as not experienced enough….You can have a guy who’s never made a film and he can get a big budget.”
Indeed one example of that is Janus Metz who makes his fictional feature directorial debut with the big-budget Toronto opening film Borg McEnroe.
“If the industry doesn’t start working with us, I’m not afraid of quotas,” Serner continued. “I think we’ve shown that they [women filmmakers] do deliver, so let them. The pure commercial money, they don’t give a shit, they want what they expect to be safe. That’s why I’m not leaving my position for a while.”
In some cities in Sweden, there are immigrant populations of up to 40%, and their stories aren’t being told enough yet. Filmmakers should represent diversity of ethnicity, age and sexual orientation, Serner added.
“We need to now use our money to encourage all parts of the regional film funds, the production companies to go out and find the talent. We are now re-doing our support scheme and we will use our money to have conditions. If you don’t do that – not on every project – but as a production company to get our money you have to show that you have a slate of emerging filmmakers.”
Serner joined SFI in late 2011 and made it her target for the organization to achieve equality in funding films by male and female directors by 2020. They first hit that goal in 2015, and in 2016 had a whopping 64% female-led projects backed.
The Institute never insisted on a quota, instead commissioning films based on quality, which they defined based on relevance, originality and craft.
You can watch Serner’s full talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyIFrFpSLcY