The Swedish Film Institute today launched its annual report on gender equality. The 406 Days survey, which looks at gender disparity in the development and production process, shows that the average female-led novel spends more than one year in development than projects led by male filmmakers.
Highlights of the report include:
- Statistics show that despite the great improvements that have been made in the field of film, the men are the filmmakers behind the titles released.
- The report showed that women in key positions have access to much lower budgets than men, and that the proportion of women in key positions decreases as budgets increase.
- Projects undertaken by women are generally considered to have higher financial risks, and this thus reduces the desire to fund projects with higher budgets
- A noticeable difference between privately owned films with male versus female directors
- Investors tend to ask questions that focus on promoting male entrepreneurs, i.e. questions that focus on opportunities, achievements, and development. Women entrepreneurs are often asked questions that focus on prevention, i.e. questions that focus on potential pitfalls and risks and how they will be prevented.
- On average, more development money is given to films in which women occupy key positions (director, screenwriter, or producer). However, development funding represents only a small percentage of the film’s total budget, particularly when it comes to projects with a medium or high budget. Although film projects with women in key positions receive more development funding, the long development phase still leaves filmmakers financially vulnerable.
- The difference in the time it takes for female lead positions to fully complete a film can be explained by the long time it takes for women from the film to receive its first development funding until it receives a Letter of Intent (LOI), a confirmation of production funding from the Swedish Film Institute.
- For all DF applications, the main job of director has the lowest percentage of women at 41 percent, while the corresponding percentage for screenwriter is 47 percent and producer is 49 percent
- For first-time funding requests, only 35 percent of requests were for films with a female director, and 38 percent were for films with a screenwriter. As producers, women make up 45 percent of these films, which is a much more equal gender distribution than the other two major positions.
- Of the 358 new film projects among the 2016-2017 Development Fund requests, 31 films were eventually released (as of October 2021). Looking at the process as a whole, it is clear that women regress to a greater degree than men. Only among filmmakers do we see an increase in the proportion of women from first application to release. It is worth noting that films with female filmmakers decline later in the process. On the other hand, this can be interpreted as female filmmakers are given more opportunity to explore and develop their film ideas, but this could also mean that they are associated longer than men with projects that do not ultimately lead to a film production.
- Movies with key positions generally take longer to complete. This is especially evident in film projects with female screenwriters. For this it takes 406 days longer on average than projects with guys from first development funding to actual release. This means that it takes an average of four years, and four months for films with female screenwriters to complete
- Films with female directors take an average of 138 days to complete more than films with male directors. However, the gender of the product does not seem to affect the length of time
Documentary confuses trends
- The opposite is true for a long documentary film, the opposite of a feature film. For all key positions, men take longer to complete than women. It is primarily the production phase that is longer for men.
- Looking at the overall development funding requests for the documentary, it is clear that, as with a feature film, gender equality varies across the years but the gender distribution is relatively equal across the various key positions.
- Among the documentaries spotted since the first application in 2016-2017, women represent 45 percent of directors, 48 percent of screenwriters, and 47 percent of producers in the 32 films released.
Read the full report here
The report is based primarily on quantitative analyzes of Swedish Film Institute data, looking at films released in the past five years, then going back through an analysis of what the process was like for them, from initial development funding to the final film.
In 2014, the Swedish Film Institute was the first public film funding body to achieve gender parity in public film funding. With the Minister of Culture and Democracy from Sweden and the Minister of Culture from France, the Swedish Film Institute organized a successful event at Cannes 2016, launching the Swedish Film Institute “50/50 by 2020which had a far-reaching impact on the global film industry.