How We Are Moving Stories reached over 50% women’s participation
By Carmela Baranowska
Founder and Spokesperson
We Are Moving Stories
We Are Moving Stories is unique: we are the only online platform worldwide promoting new voices in film, with over 50% women’s participation. We are also different as we are founded and led by a woman with over twenty years experience in the film industry: filmmaker and journalist Carmela Baranowska. The film and TV industry sees male directors, producers and writers disproportionately outnumber their female counterparts. Films are not only made by men but they are also usually about men too.
Our strategy has been simple: we encourage open access and no gatekeepers. Every day we publish 2-3 profiles where a filmmaker answers questions about their film and especially who they are looking for (distributors, film festivals, journalists) to help them achieve greater success. After two years we now have nearly 2000 profiles.
The first step in our journey was to establish the purpose and power of publishing more women than men. It’s well known that while at film school men and women enrol in equal numbers by the time they enter the film industry and attempt to build careers the numbers decrease significantly. Our solution has been to actively seek and promote female talent often found at women’s film festivals or in genres like webseries where new voices predominate. We also promote issues of identity and self-worth amongst our female contributors. Women can read about themselves – and they can also read about other female filmmakers: their peers.
But importantly, we also involve male filmmakers in the struggle for equal representation. We are asking that male filmmakers become allies with us on the journey towards change – they too can become the change agents. And the strategy is beginning to be adopted by the industry, albeit in a small way. For example, last year’s Portland International Film Festival screened more than 50% women’s films, including this year’s Grand Jury Prize winner, a film we profiled at We Are Moving Stories.
After over a century of moviemaking as a hugely successful international industry why are there no women’s studios or large production companies who consistently and historically make films by and for women. There is still no institutional acceptance of women’s participation and pay being equal to that of men. And this is where women’s media, and in particular, We Are Moving Stories, can play such an important role. We believe that change lies in women being able to monetise their films – and at We Are Moving Stories we are actively working with women to achieve it. And we are leveraging the internet to demand change.
After a few months of running the platform we noticed that many of the films profiled at We Are Moving Stories, including drama, animation and documentary, were dealing with specific social issues. Wanting to bring the issues and the films together we began working on a new model where the film helps to fund real change. In the process a new way of monetising content is established where the cause, the filmmaker and the platform benefit.
Our solution is extremely efficient. At We Are Moving Stories the supporter can donate to a cause and watch a film online that has been endorsed by the cause of their choosing over a three week period. And it’s also a win-win situation for women in film – different causes support more and more women filmmakers. A direct donation to a cause will enable projects with social purpose and impact to be funded. In return, the donor will receive the gift of watching a film.
Our inaugural campaign involves funding change for Melbourne-based Project Respect who offer support and a referral service for women in the sex industry and women trafficked for sexual exploitation.
When you donate $30 to Project Respect's campaign we give a gift in return - watching the short film Daughter online. DAUGHTER, directed by Sarah Jayne, explores violence against women and victim blaming in our society. It follows three female characters on a Friday night out in St Kilda. DAUGHTER draws loosely on the 2012/2013 Melbourne murders of journalist Jill Meagher and sex worker Tracey Connelly. However DAUGHTER is not just a short film, it is much more – it's an awareness project produced to educate and start discussion about attitudes towards women in our communities - a crucial first step in instigating positive change.
We want people to be inspired and watch this film. Be the voice. Tell three friends. We need to begin a new conversation about women – not only on screen but behind the camera as well. You can be the change.
Dr Carmela Baranowska is a Walkley award winning journalist and the founder of We Are Moving Stories
Twitter: @FounderCarmela @wearemovingstories