Fighting for Equality in Film
Local professional organization, Women in Film & Television Louisiana, is ramping up during the industry slowdown.
In 2011 Louisiana was enjoying the golden days of Hollywood South — we were the No. 1 production state in the country. For some, however, there was definitely room for improvement.
“Even with the industry booming here, the strong majority of jobs were still going to men. Women were not represented proportionally.”
Those words are from Carol Bidault, a producer, specialized in motion picture and television financing, production and distribution who moved to New Orleans in 2010 to open the new headquarters of MediaFusion Entertainment, LLC. Bidault was describing why local professionals gathered together in 2011 to form Women in Film & Television (WIFT) Louisiana — one of more than 40 WIFT chapters worldwide. The organization is dedicated to the advancement of women in film, video and new media.
Fast forward six years, Bidault now serves as the organization’s current president of the board of directors. Under her leadership, WIFT Louisiana became the host of WIFT International (WIFTI), a global organization with approximately 46,000 members, this past June.
On March 8, WIFTI will host its first Short Film Showcase in celebration of International Women’s Day from 7 to 10 p.m. The event is free for members and $10 for non-members and will be held at Second Line Stages (founder Susan Brennan is on WIFT Louisiana’s advisory board and was recently honored with the organization’s Iris Award at its annual Holiday Gala in December).
“We have a lot of events and benefits for our members,” Bidault says, noting activities including monthly networking events, software discounts, educational opportunities, inclusion in a member directory and casting preference for WIFT Louisiana-sponsored script readings. The organization has also begun launching smaller groups, or krewes, for specific professionals including actors, directors, documentarians, keys, producers and writers. Bidault anticipates that these krewes will be a big boost to the organization, which currently includes about 100 members statewide.
“The industry has definitely slowed here, but when the chips are down that’s the time when you really need to rely on a community of support and we have that,” she says. “We’ve really ramped up our offerings. We’re now accomplishing in two months what we used to do in a whole year.”
Bidault says the industry slowdown has only served to energize the organization.
“We know what we need to do to get more women in film,” she says. “The first step is to provide the education — to allow people to grow their skills and learn about fields, like sound for instance, where there is great demand for professionals and there are basically no women. We also need to train our members to be able to take over managerial positions, putting them in a situation where they can then turn around and hire more women. Finally, we need to be networking, learning what jobs are out there. I think our directory is a good tool there. You want people to be able to find you and hire you.”
Those who join WIFT Louisiana (memberships range from $35 for students to a full, $95 membership) automatically receive a membership to LFEA (Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association) and discounts to NOVAC and New Orleans Film Society events.
Bidault says the mood throughout Hollywood South is optimistic.
“We have a new governor that supports us and we’ve started to pay back the tax credits so that’s giving studios the confidence to come back,” she says. “Plus, there’s legislation coming up this spring and we’re confident in our ability to get the word out to our legislators about how much the film industry affects and drives other industries around the state.”
WIFT Louisiana Events
March 4 – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
SAG-AFTRA Panel on Joining and Working with SAG.
Robert E. Nims Center for Entertainment Arts
March 8 – 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Short Film Showcase & International Women’s Day
Second Line Stages.
March 14 – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Alice Evening (monthly networking).
Open to all.
Second Line Stages
For more information and a complete listing of events, visit WIFTLouisiana.org
Kimberley Singletary is the managing editor of Biz New Orleans magazine. A 20-year Southern California veteran, she has been surrounded by the film industry for most of her life.