BROOKLYN, NY, AUGUST 15, 2022 – Over a single weekend, August 11-14, 180 women and non-binary filmmakers came together to create six short films across New York City as part of the annual Women’s Weekend Film Challenge (WWFC). Cinelease, the entertainment industry’s leading lighting and grip provider, proudly donated substantial equipment packages in support of the event that brings light to traditionally underrepresented groups in the entertainment industry.
“On so many film sets, you rarely see women in departments like G&E and sound, despite the fact that talented women and non-binary people are working in these fields,” said Katrina Medoff, co-founder of WWFC. “Participants in Women’s Weekend Film Challenge get to meet and work with women and non- binary people in every role of production who they can hire and refer in the future, creating a ripple effect that can change the industry.”
The networking aspect of the event increases opportunities across the board – from employment rate to pay, even to career longevity. According to a recent survey by WWFC, more than 99 percent of past participants said they met others who they would hire or refer to a job during the Challenge.
This was the fifth annual challenge, and the first since the pandemic put production on pause around the world. While WWFC calls New York City its home, one pre-pandemic challenge was held in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is also home to Women in Film (WIF), a nonprofit dedicated to female empowerment in the film industry, to which Cinelease has made a similar donation for four years – specifically to WIF Shorts Lab presented by Google – a program that pairs women with mentors to create short films.
Cinelease has a long history of giving back to the community. From its humble roots as a mom and pop shop 45 years ago to building decades long relationships with organizations that support safer sets and such as Safety for Sarah, Cinelease is dedicated to elevating women’s careers by promoting from within, and understands the immense value women bring to the film and entertainment industry.
Historically, the film industry has been male-dominated with less than 10 percent of crew roles filled by women or non-binary people. WWFC is flipping the tables on traditionally male-dominated roles. Since all the Challenge’s participants are women or non-binary, roles like grip, gaffer, and sound present opportunities typically unavailable in the industry. But, the roles weren’t filled without competition. Participating in the Challenge is coveted within the female filmmaking community and this year, more than 600 women applied for each role in production of the films.
“People say that it’s hard to find women to fill these roles, but we found hundreds of women to fill these roles for six crews that are filming simultaneously,” said Tracy Sayre, co-founder of WWFC. “Our event alone shows that it’s possible for women to perform these roles and the resulting films prove that women can get the job done, and produce excellent work.”
WWFC has consistently been a free experience for participants due to partners like Cinlease who provide cinema-quality lighting and grip gear, equipment, software, and more. Other event sponsors include Sony, Arri, Zeiss, AbelCine, Gotham Sound, Western Digital, Endcrawl, Sony Ci, and FinalDraft.
“One of the biggest challenges of being an emerging filmmaker is not having the resources to produce a film with a high quality look, having Cinelease as one of the sponsors definitely helped our production obtain the level of quality we were seeking. They were also a very accommodating and pleasant team to work with,” said Kameishia Wooten, Writer/Director of Choices.
Cinelease seizes every opportunity to empower women in the film industry, even within its own company.
“In 2023, our Studio Management Division is launching a new campaign, Women of Cinelease, showcasing the achievements and contributions of the women at Cinelease Studios,” said Crystal Marshall, Sales Director at Cinelease. “They have a talented and experienced team, many of whom happen to be women, and it’s important to highlight that when in our industry, it’s pretty unusual.”
To date, WWFC has worked with 880 women and non-binary filmmakers to make 36 short films that have shown at more than 90 film festivals. After a single-weekend of writing, shooting, and editing, the 2022 WWFC participants will premiere their short films at a celebratory screening at Village East in Manhattan on Thursday, August 25.
Opportunities created by these events allow access to state-of-the-art gear at no cost and opens doors that can change the trajectory of aspiring female filmmakers and crew members’ lives. Through programs like WWFC and WIF, Cinelease proudly leverages their position and heritage in the industry to increase equality on set.
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Alex Arnold Rebel Media