An Actress's Thoughts

Simple and Direct: #2von6 / #2of6

#2of6 – A Useful Approach for the Industry

On April 1, I posted the German Federal Film Board FFA message FFA Focuses on Women’s Participation, New Funding Guideline Passed on Instagram:

adding the following explanation:

From the 3rd funding round in 2023, the FFA requires that submitted projects must involve at least one woman “in the six relevant departments”. A small start has been made, hopefully the other public film funding bodies will follow with similar advances. Whereby, better, more effective and more gender-equal would be my proposal #2of6.

It was an April Fool’s joke. The FFA does not ask for such a requirement yet. Which is a pity. It could indeed make a difference, production companies that only hire men for the main heads of department would have to rethink and look for women filmmakers.

And what was that again about #2of6?

#2of6 – Better than a Quota?

I came up with the #2of6 (two out of six) approach in 2018 and first described it on the blog on June 28: Germany’s Top Cop Drama TATORT? – #2v6pN. (pN stands for plus NEROPA – more on that another day or another place).

#2of6 means that women are involved in two of the six main departments considered. Not necessarily in sole responsibility, but at least involved as part of a team. The six departments are usually direction, script, camera, sound, editing and music. We can see that #2of6 sets a clear goal and its compliance can be verified objectively. It’s smart, simple and specific.

There are many possible uses of #2von6; for example, the awarding of funding or public TV contracts could be linked to it. Production companies, commissioning editors or TV channels can self-commit to go with #2of6, to name but a few.

And How is this better than Quotas?

A quota, a proportional representation, a share, a target is something for a group. For example, 50 % of the electoral candidate positions should go to women, 30 % of the song titles played on the radio should be in French, every fourth book presented at the fair should have less than 200 pages. This is carried out by the party’s general assembly, the music editors, the publishers.

It gets more difficult with film and television. Let’s take the guideline “25 % of Sunday night romantic TV films should be photographed by a camerawoman”. Is there an editorial team that pulls all the strings, handles all contracts and keeps track of how many projects with cameramen have already been approved, and that enforces that women sit or stand behind the lens for the films that are still to be shot?

And what happens if several quotas are to be observed at the same time, e.g. at least 25% women cinematographers and composers, 50% women in directing, screenwriting and editing, 15% women in sound? Multitargeting is not that easy, and the risk of neglecting other aspects when one is promoted is very high. We remember: when Degeto announced its 20% target for Tatort women directors, this subsequently led to more women directors, with the adjusted target beyond 30%, but at the same time to fewer women filmmakers in the other departments.

Besides, it would be nice if all productions were encouraged to rethink and break new ground, not just an editorial team or a person in charge. Let’s stay with the TATORTs: In the ten Wiesbaden cases since 2011, for example, there has never been a female director, never a female scriptwriter, never a female camerawoman, never a female sound editor, never a female composer. (And only twice, in 2011 and 2013, a female editor). Do the people in charge think: “Let the other crime scenes work with women and meet the overall quotas, we’ll remain a men’s club”? Or should producer A phone around and ask how the situation is with the other projects right now, how many writers they already had, ah, so it’s probably a woman’s turn now? Not really practicable.

Women’s quotas are not a new topic of discussion for the film and television industry. But so far, all those calling for them have failed to give a realistic answer as to how this is to be achieved across all departments. Well, failed, that’s not the point. It is about combining several quotas for several departments at the same time. Because it’s not a question of demands and wishes and desires alone. And that’s where #2of6 comes in. All the productions concerned would also work with women from now on. So basically the shares of women will automatically increase, in all six departments.

Dear editorial offices, dear production companies, dear broadcasters, dear funding agencies! It’s gone on long enough. You work with public money, not only with public men’s money. Please start fundamental changes, please dismantle the male quotas.

Comparing Two TATORT Years

It is fortunately not the case that nothing would change at all. The next figure shows the 6-work check for the 36 TATORTs broadcast for the first time in 2011 and 2022. The 1,289% increase in the proportion of female directors (36.1 percentage points) is clearly visible. For female authors and composers, the increase is around 70 %.

A brief distinction between percentages and percentage points: an increase from 14 to 28 would be a doubling, i.e. an increase of 100 % or 14 percentage points.

The increase in female directors is a result of the focus on this professional group, not least thanks to the lobbying of Pro Quote Regie since the mid-teens. The increase in female writers can also be attributed to dedicated female writers such as by means of the Tatort: Drehbuch Brandbrief. And the changes in the other departments? In camera and music, there was an increase of +3.4 percentage points. This may also be linked to the increased proportion of female directors, as they work with more women in the main departments overall, in contrast to their TATORT colleagues.

(At the end of my text Noch mehr Morde. TATORT 2021 you will find the six-work check for 2011 to 2021, which shows the development in yearly steps).

Next, the #2of6 evaluation for TATORT 2011 and 2022. Pink shading means “does not meet the criteria” (because women are only involved in one or no departments), blue shading shows that the #2of6 criteria were met.

Whereas in 2011, 75% did not meet #2of6, this figure fell to 52.8% in 2022. However, the target here is 0 %, or 100 % for #2of6. So there is still a lot of room for improvement. There are certainly other ways; the editorial offices could specifically commission more scripts from female authors, make more contact with female cinematographers and female film sound recordists – the potential is far from exhausted. Independently, the #2of6 approach opens up the possibility for all productions to immediately do something themselves, to change something, which is also nice. Besides, one does not exclude the other.

Oh, and in case you think it’s enough to create parity between female and male directors, no. The goal is to have more female participants. The goal is more female participation in all departments and all productions, (not only) in this, the most expensive renowned German format in public television and in general. This would perhaps be achieved with 90 % female directors, but such a one-sidedness, such a preference for one gender, that would never happen in public television, would it?

The next two figures illustrate how TATORT productions with one director continue to rely on male teams.

In 2011 there was only one director, Franziska Meletzky (ZWISCHEN DEN OHREN, Münster), in 2022 there were fourteen. Conversely, this means 35 and 22 directors respectively. 74.3 % of them worked with none or only one film woman in the other five departments 12 years ago; last year the proportion was almost as high at 72.7 %. Exactly, so no significant change in 2022 compared to 2011 for TATORTs with female directors.

Of the 14 female directors in 2022, 10 (= 71 %) had women on the team in two other main departments, director Mia Spengler (SCHATTENLEBEN, Hamburg) only had composer Marc Fragstein on the team, so the production comes to 5 out of 6 departments with female participation.

It makes little sense to wait until the vast majority of directors feel the impulse to work with a female camerawoman, a female sound engineer or a female composer. Perhaps habits and old male networks are simply too rigidly entrenched. For them, too, #2of6 would be an opportunity.

And of course for the audience, which has been conditioned to the male gaze for decades. And deserves other films, other narratives, other images, another tonality.

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