An increase in funding for projects with women in key roles — director, producer, and screenwriter — is one of the results of Telefilm Canada’s gender parity initiatives, according to recently released report about the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

As explained in a Telefilm press release, 59 percent of Telefilm’s production funding last year went to projects having at least one woman in a key role (i.e. director, writer, producer), to the tune of a $45.5 million investment.

We are making progress towards reaching a balanced, sustainable representation of women working in key roles behind the camera,” said Christa Dickenson, Executive Director at Telefilm Canada.

“In doing so, we are investing more money into female talent, and making sure that their stories are being told. We know we still have work to do to in order to meet our 2020 goal”.

The breakdown

Overall, funding for films with a female lead producer had the greatest increase, with 61 percent of all projects funded having a female lead producer (up from 48 percent last year). Also of note is a growth in funding for projects with women in key creative roles in the $2.5m+ features category. This stream was identified by the industry as a key priority budget category, as it has proven to be the most challenging for women creators. Projects with a woman as lead producer received $23.8 million (42 percent of the category’s total funding) while female-directed projects got $12.9 million (23 percent of the category’s total funding), and projects penned by women received $19.2 million (34 percent of the category’s total funding).

“Telefilm has increased its investment in higher budget films with women at the helm, and would like to give even more female directors an opportunity to direct a bigger budget feature.  A collaborative approach is necessary so that talent may receive the support it needs,” Dickenson said. “We’re already giving them a calling card by investing in their first and second features at a lower budget level. We also need our distribution partners, producers and broadcasters to join us by supporting more women in the director’s chair for higher budget projects. It is clear that global audiences have an appetite for greater representation in storytelling, and we want to give them as much opportunity as possible, however we cannot do it alone.”

In addition to production financing efforts, Telefilm is also providing targeted support in development for women writers with the objective of ensuring a greater presence of the female storytelling perspective.

Beyond the numbers, other initiatives have been put in place to help showcase, promote, and increase the global visibility of Canada’s female storytellers and female-led projects. This reflects and reinforces Telefilm’s commitment towards a more inclusive, diverse and representative entertainment landscape, including gender parity.