An Actress's Thoughts

Germany’s Top Cop Drama TATORT – #2v6pN

Germany’s Top Cop Drama TATORT on and off-screen 2011 to 2018

The women directors lobby group Pro Quote Regie – who have since then expanded and are now Pro Quote Film, covering some 10 departments – had been campaigning for more films directed by women in German film and televison. Just under three years ago the Degeto Film GmbH (the company who is responsible for a large number of films of public tv channel ARD) commited to a 20 % share of female directors in their productions. Degeto boss Christine Strobl is quoted as saying that 20 % are a resonable target with which she wanted to ensure a change of consciousness within the industry, among producers and commissioners (according to Manfred Hanfeld: Zwanzig Prozent Regisseurinnen FAZ 8.7.15).
Unfortunately it is not so easy to get hold of a list of all Degeto‘s productions in a year, so instead I looked into Germany‘s top cop drama TATORT / CRIME SCENE once again, a weekly 90 min. film broadcast by ARD on Sunday nights, with roughly 35 news films every year. Because surprisingly enough the TATORTE (that‘s the plural) have nearly reached a 20 % share of female directors in the first half of 2018 – after years of single-figures in that category.
By the way, I have a different proposal for a commitment which I will present at the end of today’s text (#2v6pN). But first, let’s have a look at the TATORTE.

The first six months of TATORTE 2018

Indeed, 4 of the so far 21 TATORTE 2018, that‘s 19 %, were directed by women. At the same time the share of women for a number of other departments have decreased alarmingly. No woman provided the images or the sound, and only 7 % of the stories, the dialogues were written by women (the next image on the left will show this).
So is there a connection to the increase of female directing? This theory was mentioned by several female DoP who said they had been told “well, we do have a female director already, so a woman at the camera would be a bit too much”. Or will all those TATORTE written and filmed by women be screened in the second half of 2018? Or is this just coincidental?
On screen there have also been some developments. In the first half o this year (and already in 2017) the share of gender-mixed teams leading the investigations has risen to 60 % which is quite a lot when you consider that in 2011 it were 40 % (see next image on the right shows this). For better understanding let me add that each TATORT is a complete story without a sequel, but it‘s the same cop teams or rather about 20 or so different cop teams investigating in different towns. Some are two men, some are mixed, and I think one or two years ago for the first time they introduced two women.

Of course six months are not so conclusive on their own, so let‘s take a look back.

TATORT 6-Departments-Check: The Data and the Sources

From 2011 to the summer break of 2018, in those 7,5 years, a total of 276 TATORTE premiered, and analyzing 6 departments each means that I had to evaluate 1,656 team positions. The TATORTE of the last years are listed on a subpage of the ARD website, with information on date, title, town and team, and then each film has it‘s own page with a short summary, the names of the director and script writer/s and sometimes also of the DoP and the composer. All gaps concerning these and the other two departments I filled using the websites of, crew united, IMDB and Wikipedia. The most difficult team position to research usually was the sound mixer.
All images and galleries in this text can be enlarged by clicking on them. You can use and quote my findings and diagrams, but please don‘t forget to name me as the source.

6-Departments-Check: Director Script DoP Sound Music Editor

I already mentioned the complete lack of female DoP and sound mixers in 2018 so far. Overall there were five blankments in the 48 annual department statistics (= 8 years, 6 departments), that’s 10 %:

The next image shows all six departments in the analysed period, with the the alumni figures as reference, i.e. the shares of women for those graduating from film school (alumni data taken from the German Federal Film Board FFA Gender und Film 2018).
The rise of the female directors is clearly to be sehen and also the desolate script situation. The TATORTE are fictional stories of course, but set in present day Germany. So why are they nearly all being told by men? A lack of female script writers cannot be the reason, with nearly half the graduates being women. In 2018 there were more TATORT scores composed by women than scripts written. Unlike sound, the share of female graduates in the camera department is a quarter, so what could be a reason for the two gaps in 2015 and 2018? Is it because female DoP can‘t see blood? Are the car chases too fast for them? Is it that the commissioners simply don‘t know any (better read Camera: Through Their Eyes), or does the TATORT have permanent crews? More on that in a short while. At least the surplus of women editors – as opposed to the momentary even numbers at film schools – make the next image a bit more colourful:

The next gallery provides a few detailed views and further information for the six departments. First we see the job starters (who are the alumni), the members in the unions and the full professionals. For the latter I turned to the database crew united (2017) and their listings. So what we see is quite a large drop in the share of female directors and DoP – as opposed to female writers. Is this possibly connected to the difficulties in combining family and working on a film set? And the fact that scripts can be written at home or in an office over longer periods of time, alone, with a co-author or even in a team? For music, naturally the first two pieces of data (film schools, unions) don‘t exist. And the thing about the editors is that film editing used to be a woman‘s job. It was only when editing became digital that more men got interested in the department. Today the training is about 50 : 50, and for the film projects there is already a male majority. The editors union is still female dominated as far as the members go, the board on the other hand consists of five men and two women.
The second image shows the 6-departments-check for the 100 most successful German films from 2012 to 2015, and the third and fourth image show the TATORTE for that period and also for 2015 until today. In the first years there are more female directors and scriptwriters for films than for tv / the TATORTE, and at the same time there are less female editors in the projects. (if you click any image of the gallery you can move with the arrows).

I want to apologize to composers and editors, because I will look into the other four departments a bit now.

Next, you see the image on the left with the shares of women among Alumni, among professionals, for the German Top 100 films and both TATORTE groups. The second image depicts how many women and men actually worked in every department in all the TATORTE of the 7 ½ years. The number of men is more or less the same for the directors, DoP and sound mixers (around 110), so there‘s nothing to the theory of a handful of DoP working on all the films and blocking the way for female and other male colleagues. There were more mal script writers – 155, this is probably due to the fact that many scripts are written by more than one author. The numbers of women are much lower, from the most – 33 – women script writers to the least – 4 – women sound mixers.
The diagrams 3 and 4 tell us in how many TATORTE each man and each woman worked on average, in the years 2012 to 2015 and the years 2015 to the summer of 2018. The men‘s data is quite firm, each one was hired or 1,6 to 2,1 TATORTE, not much change from the earlier to the later time period. For the women it‘s quite diferent. Between 2012 and 2015 only 6 women directed a TATORT, this figure rose to 16 (2015 – 18), and the ratio female director to male director consequently dropped from 1 : 12 to 1 : 4. Parallel to that, the number of films directed by a woman was cut in half, with every woman  only directing one film on average. For many it was their TATORT debut, – if there will be a second, third, fourth or moreth waits to be seen. Over the whole 7 ½ years there was a total of 17 female TATORT directors by the way.
Looking at the female DoPs we see the opposite trend, their number has decreased from 8 to 5, and the number of films per person declined even more. The number of female authors changed a little less (from 25 to 18), and also the number of TATORTE written by each women remain more or less the same. There were three female sound mixers in both intervals, looking at the whole industry, or rather the crew united database, we find a total of 18 (and 15 female composers and 321 female editors. I will write about ‘women in sound‘ in the future article). So here are the four images:

The data for TATORTE per person were averages of course. Here are the top people for each department in those 7 ½ years:

  • Directors: Florian Baxmeyer (12 TATORTE) and Franziska Meletzky (5 TATORTE)
  • Script Writers: Jürgen Werner (17) and Dagmar Gabler (5)
  • DoPs: Jürgen Carle (14) and Christine A. Meier (4)
  • Sound Mixers: Wolfgang Wirtz (21) and Katja Schenk (6)

There’s quite a gap between the men and the women, isn’t there?

Finally one last correlation: the number of men only departments of six per TATORT and year. To talk you through the next image: look at the little light-green column in the „Two“ section, it signifies that there was one film in 2012 where two of the six departments were led by men. The light-blue column on the far right shows that there were four TATORTE in 2018 so far where all six departments were led by men, without any women involved. The highest number each year is found in the „Five“ section, meaning 5 male and 1 female department. There was no TATORT with five or six female departments, and there were only three films with four female departments, each time with a female director. Five male directors also worked with 3 heads of departments. Incidentally, all eight films had a female lead / first role on the list. Another coincidence? The second – light blue – image shows the share of TATORTE each year with two or more women as heads of department (this could also be woman-man-co-writers). The average over all years for this is 31 %.

63 TATORTE had no women in any of the six departments. That‘s 22,8 % of all 276 films, and 25,5 % of all 247 films with male directors. It‘s may be surprising (maybe not) that the same share – 25,8 % of all films directed by women had no women in the remaining five departments.
There are some directors, both male or female, that can be found more than once in this group. It would be interesting to see if certain TATORT towns or commissioners appear more often than others, but I haven‘t looked into this yet.

Anyway, we can say that competent and TATORT experienced women work in all six departments (men as well of course) – less in the sound and music of course.

Now let‘s look at the situation on screen, and this can be done quicky with three diagrams. First once again we see the distribution of all female, all male and mixed lead coppers in 2011 and 2017 / 2018. Then, in the middle, it‘s the first roles and main casts of the 21 TATORTE in the first half of 2018, where for the first time more than 50 % of the first roles were female. I don‘t know if this number still stands at the end of the year, because there are more TATORTE to come. But still, it‘s remarkable. The third image shos the first roles and main casts for the 7 ½ years:

I find the third image just now most significant for two reasons.
1) The share of women for the first roles has risen continuously. There may be several reasons for that. For example, the strive of the commissioners towards more female top coppers. Or that for many of the new TATORT duos, e.g. if they are a man and a woman, the woman is listed in first place, the man in second.
2) The gender distribution of the main casts has not really changed over the years. Why is that? Maybe women as vital characters are simply forgotten, we tend to see them on the side, as wives or partners, mothers or daughters of suspects for example, or as prostitutes. Maybe the fact that so so many scripts were written by men (remember? 93 % in 2017 and 2018!) has also had an influence.

What if every TATORT script were to undergo the NEROPA method? This wouldn‘t change the stories, but it would probably lead to more female characters not only among the nameless minor characters, but among all roles, we would get more female characters with a name, a a proper job, more older women.

I said at the beginning that I would present an alternative idea for a self-commitment by those responsible for the TATORTE (or other TV films), so here goes:

2 of 6 plus NEROPA – #2v6pN

  • in each TATORT production at least two of the departments directing, script, DoP, music, sound and editing will have a female head of department. I case of shared responsibility one woman will suffice.
  • Each TATORT script will be examined by a team of three with the NEROPA Neutral Roles Parity method.

Two departments, that‘s a third of six, and this corresponds to the average of the female alumni shares in five departments (for music there is no data, obviously). This commitment could be introduced starting 2020, because the TATORTE for 2019 are being shot or at least planned and hiring started already. It‘s good to have a commitment that each TATORT production can follow individually – also instead of a quota or target for a single department like directing. The concept of the inclusion rider of Dr. Stacy Smith (read also: Let‘s talk about the Inclusion Rider) is not so promising as it asks for one women to be interviews (alongside numerous men) for each of ten departments. That won‘t necessary lead to the hiring of women. #2von6uN will.

The data has shown that there are enough qualified film women in each department for this to be possible, and when we assume that the training at German film schools is alright, then many more can follow.
Would this concept Would this concept for hiring women, of increasing their creative influence in television, discriminate against men? I don‘t see why. There will still be enough team positions – even heading the six departments in question – left to apply for, maybe 144.
Would more women as heads of department lead to a decline in quality? No, why should the hiring of qualified (female) film professionals be a greater risk than hiring equally qualified men? Also I didn‘t find any evidence suggesting that TATORTE with more women in the departments were switched off early more often.
Raising the share of TATORTE with 2 women in those 6 departments from the on average 31 % (since 2011) to 100 % seems like a big step, but why not try something that will actually make a change?
It would be even better if producers and commissioners would employ men and women behind the camera, as heads of department and raise the share of women, and also have stories equally be about women and written by women. But apparently this does not seem to happen without incentives or slender regulations, so I think self commiting could be a good idea.

Another issue in this context would be equal and fair pay, but that is definitely a topic for another day.

So, what are your thoughts on 2 of 6 plus NEROPA?

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