Tuesday 19 March 2019

Are you an aspiring female filmmaker? The Female Film Force initiative is back and seeking submissions

One of last year's five finalists was a team of Irish filmmakers

Emma Wall and her team of filmmakers
Emma Wall and her team of filmmakers
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Despite the focus on female representation and gender imbalance in the film industry, the problem persists.

At last week’s Oscars, 73 per cent of the winners were male while the nominees for Best Director at the Oscars, BAFTAs and Globes were all male.  None of the films in the Best Film category at these ceremonies were directed by women.

Following the success of last year’s Female Film Force, Bumble has just launched the initiative, which aims to address the gender imbalance in the film industry, for a second year.

Aspiring female filmmaking teams across Ireland, the UK, France and Germany can now apply for one of five grants of £20,000 (€22,000) to make a short film.

Filming PAT in Dingle
Filming PAT in Dingle

Among last year’s finalists were writer/director Emma Wall, from Arklow, DOP Claire Byrne and producer Jo Halpin who operate as Alfonso Flms.

Emma's script was initially chosen from 1100 other projects to make the final ten and the panel of judges including broadcaster Edith Bowman and actresses Ophelia Lovibond and Georgina Campbell felt the film deserved to make it to the final five.

The trio from Dublin filmed PAT in Dingle last year and the final film was showcased last month alongside the four other finalists at an industry event.  Now it has been submitted to festivals across the UK, Ireland, and Europe.

The women had one short film under their belt when they won the funding and Emma believes that the initiative has been invaluable in developing their careers.

Filming PAT in Dingle
Filming PAT in Dingle

“It’s absolutely going to push all of our careers forward now and in a way it already has,” Emma tells Independent.ie

“The things we have learned and the skills, and support, and how to be with each other, we’re already applying it to other stuff we’re working on.  We learned so many lessons and we were mentored in such a great way that applying that stuff is invaluable.”

The women were supported and mentored throughout the process and allowed to make their own creative decisions without interference, an experience Emma describes as “incredible”. 

“It was so collaborative.  We were part of a real mixed bag of filmmakers.  There were people on our scheme who had made films before, and others who had never made one before.  No matter what level of experience you had, they looked at everybody and selected people they really believed in,” she says.

“Sometimes schemes look for names or look at your CV but I’m a first time director and they were straight in there – they read the script and that was what got them.  So if you feel under-skilled in any way don’t let that hold you back from going for it,” she advises this year’s hopefuls.

Another nugget of advice Emma would impart would be for women to have confidence in their projects. 

“Straight off the bat believe in yourself if you do get shortlisted because they do funding based on so many different criteria.  If you do get it they really believe you’re capable and you deserve it. 

“We couldn’t believe it really when we got it.  It was a bit like, ‘Oh God, are we really doing this?’  I think just having the belief as a company for yourself straight out of the gate – if they fund you it’s not a joke, they really want you to go for it, so really believe in yourself.”

Emma admits she felt a little overwhelmed initially.

“I think you second guess yourself and when you’re presented with an opportunity like this and get it, I certainly had an element of surprise and it was slightly overwhelming.  It was like, ‘what do I do with this now?’

“But listen to the support and believe it and realise how good it is to have Bumble on the other side of the pond just waiting for you to use them and call them – it took us a while to really settle in to that.”

A panel of thirteen industry experts from the UK, France and Germany will be judging the submissions this year as well as mentoring the successful applicants.

They include award-winning director Amma Asante (A United Kingdom, Belle), Archie Panjabi, the first actor of Asian descent to ever win an Emmy (The Good Wife), Emma Freud, and critic Anna Smith as well as actresses Phoebe Fox and Stacy Martin.

This year Emma and her team may also be called upon to mentor this year’s finalists, if their skills are applicable to a new project.  However, their own journey with PAT is not over yet.

“I feel like the journey is only kind of starting in a way because the films aren’t out there yet,” says Emma.  “We still feel attached to the initiative and we know we’re still a part of it and we can’t wait to get the film into festivals.”

Entries via the Bumble Bizz app.  Simply download the app, match with the in-app card, you'll be sent a message through the app, and click through to the Bumble presents... The Female Film Force application page and fill out the short form.

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