Women’s Animation Symposium Coming In October

Taking place at the University of California (USC), Women in Animation, USC, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), and CalArts are hosting a symposium in October. The aim is to empower more women and LGBTQ+ people by highlighting their contributions in the world of animation as well as explore solutions to sexual harassment, bias and lack of diversity in the industry.

Marge Dean, president of Women in Animation comments, “We believe strongly in the next generation of artists and filmmakers and are honored to join in presenting this inspiring slate of speakers.”

The symposium will have keynote speakers Brown Johnson and Brenda Chapman both of whom have backgrounds in animation. Brown Johnson has worked on both animation and children’s TV including Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and Clarissa  Explains It All whilst Brenda Chapman is the write of a number of Disney movies. Her credits include Brave, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Maureen Furniss, director of the CalArts Experimental Animation Program says, “With all the media coverage of women’s issues right now, it’s easy to presume that change is on the way. It will take a total shift in the culture, after sustained effort, to see any lasting effects. This event brings focus to important issues and provides a sense of solidarity among women at all levels: executives, established artists, and students eager to join the animation world.”

It will be between 5th and 7th October 2018 and have a number of events including panel,s presentations and screenings. For tickets visit their website here.

Keep. It. Reel.

Lack Of Diversity Still Rampant Says Report From Directors Guild Of America

Just 16% of films were directed by women last year, according to a report released this week by the Directors Guild of America (DGA). The new data analysis included 651 feature films released in America in 2017 and cast a wide net to ensure big budget studio and independent films featured in the report. 

DGA President Thomas Schlamme says, “It’s outrageous that we’re once again seeing such a lack of opportunity for women and people of colour to direct feature films. Our new study shows that discriminatory practices are still rampant across every corner of the feature film business. These numbers hit home how the chips are stacked against women and people of colour. We dug into our proprietary data to see if we could isolate areas that were bright spots or especially problematic. But as we kept going, it became clear that no matter how you slice the 2017 numbers, the outcome is virtually the same. There is a misconception that things are better in the smaller, indie film world, but that’s simply not the case. From financing and hiring, to distribution and agent representation – every aspect of the entire system disadvantages women and people of colour. Change is long overdue. Inclusion is a fight we’ve been fighting with the industry for four decades now, and it’s been an uphill battle to get them to change their hiring practices. In our two most recent negotiations, we pushed for the industry to adopt the Rooney Rule into their hiring practices, but they wouldn’t budge on the issue. Neither will we — we are committed to keeping at this for as long as it takes.”

Breaking down the figures even further to include ethnicity, 10% of films with a box office taking of $250,000+ were directed by those from a diverse background which is down 3% from 2016. This amounted to 91% of directors being white for films which grossed $10m or more and 84% of those which took less than $10m. Of the 651 films included, in exact figures 577 were directed by men and just 114 by women. The total adds up to 691 as many films were helmed by more than one person. 

Keep. It. Reel.

Boba Fett Stand Alone Film Confirmed 

It seems Lucasfilm and Disney are eager to keep the Star Wars fandom alive with the news coming out regarding a new stand alone film this time about bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Yes this was rumoured quite some time ago but only now have they revealed it is officially going ahead with James Mangold in the directors chair as well as taking up writing duties. 

As you’d expect details are scarce with this breaking just a day after Solo: A Star Wars story has hit the cinemas. It seems they are confident with their spin-off films being primarily about one main character, with Solo, Boba and a possible Obi-Wan project in the making with Stephen Daldry in negotiations to direct.

Now, I’m a big Star Wars fan. I’ve loved the franchise for years despite its mistakes. Yes I’m looking at you, shitty prequels. However, with the release of Solo less than 6 months since The Last Jedi (don’t groan, it was excellent and did more for Star Wars than most of its films have ever done) as well as Rian Johnson’s new trilogy, Jon Favreau’s live action series and yet another animated series in production, it’s become overkill. The Disney takeover was an exciting adventure into a galaxy far far away. We left it for a while then it came back roaring with the sound of a thousand TIE fighters but now it’s become too much, as if being weighed down by Jabba the Hutt.

The fact that the filmmakers themselves have been kind of varied (besides the poor decision to bring back JJ Abrams for Episode IX) might mean that these projects are good however by now you’d expect there to be some diversity and not only be helmed by white men. The Last Jedi showed us a wider universe with men and women of different ethnicities and backgrounds but it seems that whilst it’s looking good in front of the camera behind it is a whole other story.

Keep. It. Reel.