Did you know that women made up only 38% of behind-the-scenes roles in feature film productions from 2020-2021? And only 23% of cinematographers on these productions were women?
Despite the gender imbalance that still exists in filmmaking, these recent figures, published by the Indie Women Report, are the most promising yet, showing that change is happening and there are more opportunities for women in all the screen industries.
In documentary filmmaking, the picture is even brighter; women delivered 42% of off-screen roles in 2020-2021.
As today is International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to shine a spotlight on the incredible, tenacious, and talented women from the LFA network, who are contributing to this seismic change within the industry.
Our co-founder and joint principal, Anna MacDonald, reached out to some of our pioneering female filmmakers, and asked them to share their perspectives and experiences as #WomenInFilm.
Scroll down to read their insightful comments!
Anna MacDonald and Daisy Gili
First off, we’re spotlighting our inimitable co-founders and joint principals; the original LFA pioneers!
Anna and Daisy were the first women in the UK to establish a film school, launching London Film Academy, in 2001, with a burning passion for film, and a desire to educate the next generation of filmmakers through practical, experiential training in an industry setting.
Since its’ inception, London Film Academy has always aimed to champion the careers of female filmmakers, and to offset the gender imbalance in the film industry that still exists today.
From our scholarship for female students, The Pioneers’ Award, to our ongoing support for our female alumni network, we have always been determined to represent women in a variety of production roles across the industry.
Here’s what Anna and Daisy have to say about LFA’s founding mission and values:
Our story began in 2001 when we embarked on a mission of building this diverse, inclusive and nurturing school. 20 years later, we are still as passionate about film and education. We deeply believe that a meaningful and experiential education, which is what we do, can inspire and change individuals, and individuals in turn can change the world. Two decades on, we’re still true to our founding values of collaboration, innovation, sustainability and impact.
We founded London Film Academy because we have a passion for film and education. We wanted to create a platform that would bring together students, just as passionate, and prepare them with skills for the industry. Our students over the last 20 years have shown us how talented, resilient, and determined they are. The industry needs filmmakers like ours, and I think the industry is lucky to have them! The greatest thing is that our courses have is the ability to attract very different and diverse types of people, who don’t want to take the normal routes into the film industry.
Throughout the last 20 years, we’ve seen hundreds of pioneering women leave our halls to make their mark on the industry. Below we celebrate just a handful of those incredible women.
Teodora is a Swedish filmmaker based in London. Since graduating from the LFA Filmmaking Diploma in 2013, she has been directing and producing advertisements, brand films, music videos and short films.
Her short film #ILLUSION, focusing on the illusion we are living through social media, was sold to Canal Plus and showcased in Palm Springs and LA Film Fest. Her second short, UTOPIC DYSTOPIA, was sold to Shorts International and showcased in Cannes and NYIFF.
Teodora also hosts the podcast Modern Madonnas, which focuses on portraits of modern femininity. Have a listen to her special episode for #InternationalWomensDay, talking about climate change and women’s rights, by clicking here.
Here’s what Teodora had to say about being a woman in the film industry:
The most common question I get when I say I work in the film industry is, “where have I seen you?”. The assumption is that as a woman, I would be in front of the camera and not behind it. But I would like to think that things are changing. The hunger for a female gaze is becoming very sought after and I think this is the beginning of having a broad variety of stories told.
I have definitely had to work hard to prove myself before anyone would pay me for my work. I don’t think that I have ever identified this as resistance against female filmmakers, but looking at my male colleagues, I can see that for some of them it has been easier to get a shot at proving their skills.
After graduating from our 1-year, Filmmaking Diploma in 2016, Evelyn started working for the international sales company Carnaby International Sales and Distribution.
Evelyn works across acquisitions and licensing, providing input on projects at various development stages and negotiates with distributors around the world to secure the release of various independent films.
She has worked with films including ‘The Boat’, which premiered at Fantastic Fest 2018 and the British crime action favourite ‘Rise of the Footsoldier’, which is one of Britain’s most successful crime franchises.
Evelyn has remained a close friend of LFA since leaving, and we're so proud to see her career blossom and grow with each passing year.
She had this to say about her experience as a woman working in the screen industries:
The film industry has changed so immensely in the past few years that it's a very exciting time to be a filmmaker. Stories are being told through newer voices and from fresher perspectives. They are constantly challenging filmmakers and their audiences alike to expand both their minds and their hearts. It's amazing to see so many of these projects, which would have been considered unconventional, and a commercial risk, just a few years ago, truly flourishing with strong backing from audiences around the world.
Anna graduated from the LFA Filmmaking Diploma in 2003, and has since worked on productions in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Stockholm, holding positions with global companies Shine Endemol, All3Media, ITV, Prophets and creating content for clients including NBC, Netflix, Apple, Cadillac, and Dior.
In 2019, Anna produced the sensational feature documentary ‘Chasing the Present’, which looks at ways to manage anxiety featuring Russell Brand, Alex Grey, Graham Hancock, Ed Sheeran and many more!
Her next feature-length documentary, 'The Business of Birth Control', examines the complex relationship between hormonal birth control and women’s health and liberation. It will be released digitally in the US and Canada on 8 April! Find out more, and watch the trailer, by clicking here.
Anna had this to say about being a female filmmaker in today’s industry:
I never thought about the fact that I was female or that it had any barriers to entry for me. I just saw myself as a person breaking into the industry. I think if you work hard, are reliable and diligent, opportunities present themselves to you no matter what gender you are.
I loved watching movies and reading books from a young age. They gave me so much solace and joy. I wanted to make movies to help people feel better.
Anny studied on our Documentary Filmmaking Certificate in 2019, as well as several other short courses in production, before graduating and going on to launch her own production company, First Move Productions.
Her LFA production, and documentary directorial debut, ‘Trapped By Plastic’, has found a significant and wide-reaching impact since its’ release. The documentary explores the environmentally themed work of artist Mandy Barker, and was shown at the Blue Water Film Festival, DOC Independent Film Festival, and the Women Over Fifty Film Festival.
The film and First Move Productions were also involved in a high-level panel session on ending marine plastic pollution at EU Green Week and was featured in the British Council’s Blue Zone installation at the UN’s international conference for climate change, Cop26, in Glasgow in 2021.
Trapped by Plastic - Trailer from First Move Productions on Vimeo.
Anny’s other work focuses on topics ranging from Brexit to mural paintings and woodland preservation, to the global lockdowns and of course environmental sustainability.
We recently interviewed Anny, who had this to say about the opportunities available to Women In Film:
I would love to see women finding more ways to tell their stories, and I think we’ve already seen that change, even in mainstream filmmaking. There are a lot more women actually writing stories, and that’s very refreshing. So, I think the future is bright. There’s certainly so much more that can be done, that we need to be cautiously optimistic.
I do think there should be more women in film. I think there should be more women behind the camera, and a lot more women saying more interesting things than just talking about blokes on film, because these women exist in real life, and we have to represent them.
I look at various funds that offer support for filmmakers, and there’s a whole section on residences. But if, like me, you’ve got three kids, what are the odds of going to spend a month on some wild coast of Scotland to focus on your film project? That’s just not how it works for a lot of women. So, I think we need to be more modular about what is on offer. There are all sorts of groups, and even festivals of women filmmakers, and I think it’s worth continuing to support those, but also to try and make things as mainstream as possible, in terms of not ghettoising women filmmakers.
We’re excited to see the development and expansion of the LFA female filmmakers’ network and can’t wait to see what our wonderful women graduates do next!
Are you a woman who has graduated from LFA? We’d love to hear from you and to share your successes! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org and keep us up to date with your work!