According to the organisers, the Women’s awards are celebrating diversity within the industry. Of course, the only real diversity is the diversity of opinions. Luckily, there was plenty of that at the Women in Film and TV Awards held in London earlier this month. British TV stars and celebrities shared with us their thoughts on the topics ranging from tokenism to education, to diversity quotas.
Fifty-fifty quotas and education
The Golden Globes winner Samantha Morton told us she is all in for strict quotas for women in the industry. “We need more women directors, writers, editors. More women behind the camera. We are a long way from being equal. [What would change things is] if there were some absolute guidelines that it has to be fifty-fifty teams…”
“So, not about getting women more interested in studying the craft?” we asked. Samantha continued, “Then you going to get into politics and education. And it’s a bigger subject for today. But I think with the austerity cuts it’s hard enough for everyone to get the education, let alone to go into a specialist field,” said the actress.
Judi Lee-Headman winner of the Pinewood MBS Lighting Award presented by David Morrissey
Samantha Morton winner of the QI Best Performance Award
We didn’t have to look far for women who indeed study in the specialist field. Gaffer Judi Lee-Headman admitted she was always interested in the technical side of things. “I went out on a shoot. And I saw one sound guy doing his thing so I asked him all about it. He was really great and took his time to explain everything. When I came back from that shoot I decided – that’s what I wanted to do. And here I am twenty plus years later. Judi is currently working away at the Sky Series ‘Intergalactic’.
Presenter David Morrissey, in contrary to Samantha Morton, believes that the awards themselves “provide an incentive for women to specialise in the industry.”
Tokenism doesn’t work
Katya Adler (R) winner of the BBC News and Factual Award presented by Angela Rippon
One prominent guest with a wealth of experience within the industry was Angela Pullman who shared with us her insights: “Media, in general, is much more enlightened than it was ten years ago. I’ve been in broadcasting for fifty-two years. There weren’t that many women when I started. Now, women fill major roles in television, news, sport, current affairs, politics – anything and everything you can imagine. The whole of broadcasting, in general, is much more diverse. And what I like to think is that those women, regardless of colour or whatever, they are there on merit.”
The ikon of broadcasting continued: “If people think you are there because you are filling the quota, they won’t respect you. But the women here today prove that simply by the quality of the work that they do, they deserve the recognition they are getting.”
“I think we are past tokenism. All women who have created any kind of impact in the broadcasting have done that on merit. The ones who were tokens, did not make the grade if you like. Not just women but men as well. Anybody in the broadcasting now, who does not get there on merit, is very quickly moved out. That’s how it works now because it’s a very overcrowded industry. Lots and lots of young people desperate to work in it. The best will always succeed regardless of colour and regardless of sex.
Do women report stories differently?
Dorothy Byrne (R) winner of the Argonon Contribution to the Medium Award presented by Krishnan Guru- Murthy
Dorothy Byrne, the Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, added yet another valuable insight to the discussion. “Women and men, if they are great journalists, report stories in the same way. What makes women different from men in the way they report is that they often recognise the importance of stories that men don’t spot. For example, the first film that I ever made as a producer and a director was about rape in marriage. And several men who worked on the programme with me said that that wasn’t even a story.”
The Women in Film and TV Awards clearly provide the platform for the industry’s high-achievers to celebrate and share their ideas to form the future of the media and the broadcasting business.