Five@5

5 films, 5 women, 5K, 5 mins; SFTN have launched a new scheme to help widen the talent pool of female filmmakers.

28 November 2016
By Claudia Yusef
Claudia is the Talent Development Executive for SFTN and is responsible for seeking out and identifying film talent and projects for development.

5@5.jpg

a girl on a bicycle riding in the country side.
Creeling, 2016
At the Scottish Film Talent Network, we've just announced a new initiative called Five@5. It's an opportunity for new and emerging women directors to develop their showreel and experiment, with a small amount of financial support and without much interference from us.
 
A Directors UK study earlier this year showed that only 13.6% of working directors in the UK are women. Given that roughly 50% of those at film school in the UK are women, that's a lot of energy and talent going to waste, which seems, at the very least, inefficient.
 
‘Make Things More Efficient!’ isn’t the sexiest rallying cry. But inefficiency, in this case, means all those fantastic women filmmakers who don’t get a chance to tell their story. It means a skewing of our cultural lens and less variety in our diet. Making things more efficient means not letting those talented voices and untold stories fall by the wayside. It means startling new discoveries and, in this case, five more wonderful short films on the screen.
 
Both years we've run our new talent short film programme, the percentage of projects that apply to us with a female director attached is about 20% - not that far above that 13.6% mark - so some of that loss of energy and talent seems to be happening before people even apply for their first funded short. 
 
What this means for us in practice is that we have a smaller pool of women directors to be selecting from each time and, therefore, that the chances of us being able select a diverse cohort of filmmakers is slimmer. 
 
a female director on set of her animation
BTS image of Cat Bruce, director of No Place Like Home
 
Our shortlist for the development process for the Scottish Shorts programme wasn't too far off 50% (5 out of 12) but when it comes to what was actually commissioned, the numbers look embarrassingly familiar. Two out of 6 shorts commissioned this year were directed by women; 1 in 4 of the live action shorts. Some of this might be down to a fluke year, but I have no doubt those numbers would have looked better if we'd had a wider pool to choose from to begin with, or if some of those directors we shortlisted had entered the process with more experience. And the numbers don't get much better as you move up through our ladder of opportunity towards first feature. It we want to improve that 13.6% at the professional end of the spectrum, then the numbers need to be far better at these more accessible stages in directors' careers. 
 
Gender-specific programmes can be a blunt tool, which is why we’re keen for Five@5 to feed in to our other programmes. It’s not a development programme. It’s been designed to help widen and strengthen the talent pool of directors applying to our short film and feature development programmes, not to replace them.
 
Five@5 won't change everything overnight, but by increasing our talent pool, hopefully we can slow some of that talent drain at these crucial early stages, and make things just that little bit more efficient.