by Jarrah Hodge
The shows we see on TV are created by a team of people. In terms of influence on a show’s finances and creative direction, the most important roles are usually directors, writers and cinematographers.
Unfortunately, a new report from the non-profit Women in View has found huge gaps in women’s representation in these key roles on Canadian TV shows. There is also a significant lack of representation of people of colour and First Nations people behind the camera. That means that even when the stories we see are about women or people of colour, chances are they were written, filmed and directed by white men (see a telling picture here). Women in media industries tend to work disproportionately in what the report calls “taking care” roles (line producers, production managers, etc.) or stereotypically feminine jobs like hair and makeup.
“I would like to believe that talent and hard work will pay off in terms of opportunities for people to earn a living in this industry; yet, it is well known that the screenwriting profession poorly reflects the diversity of society and is much more hospitable to white middle-aged males than to women, racialized minorities and seniors,” said Ryerson professor Dr. Charles Davis. “Despite the emphasis of Canadian cultural policy on the development and telling of screen stories that reflect all Canadians, the directing, cinematography and screenwriting occupations in this country are dominated by middle-aged white men.”
Some key stats coming out of the report:
- Of the 272 episodes these 21 series represent, 84 per cent of directors were men, 16 per cent were women.
- 11 of the 21 series did not employ a single woman director on any of their episodes.
- No series employed a woman cinematographer.
- No racialized minority women were employed as directors in any of the 21 series.
- 36 per cent of the screenwriters were women; 64 per cent were men.
- 13 of the 21 series employed no racialized minorities or First Nations writers or directors of either sex.
Putting together this research, WIV studied the 21 Canadian live action TV series with the highest levels of investment (between $1M and $9.1M per series) from the Canada Media Fund in their 2010-2011 year. Some of the shows they looked at were Being Erica, The Borgias, Call Me Fitz, Heartland, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Murdoch Mysteries, Republic of Doyle and Rookie Blue.
These gaps show that women, First Nations people and people of colour are missing out on significant economic opportunities. Just under $100 million went into the series studied in the WIV report, and the Canadian media industry on the whole contributed $5.49 billion to our GDP in 2011. Read more