A new NBC program aims to get more female directors behind the camera.
The network announced an annual initiative Thursday called “Female Forward.”
Designed to increase the number of women directors in the industry and on NBC projects, the program is spearheaded by NBC President Jennifer Salke in partnership with acclaimed director Lesli Linka Glatter (“Mad Men” and “Homeland”).
The initiative will identify ten up-and-coming female directors to attach to NBC projects, starting with the 2018-2019 season. Each woman will be given an opportunity to shadow another director for up to three episodes of an assigned show, and then the trainees will be allowed to call the shots by directing at least one episode on their own.
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“We strongly believe women can and should be at the forefront of telling compelling stories, and I hope the guaranteed directing component will have real impact on our shows as well as the industry,” Salke said in a statement.
“It shouldn’t be harder for our daughters to direct than for our sons. It should be an equal playing field,” Glatter added. “A program like this is a game changer and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
News of the program comes after a series of scathing studies focused a spotlight on Hollywood’s lack of diversity among its acting and directing ranks.
In September, the Directors Guild of America released a comprehensive report saying women directed just 17 percent of broadcast, cable and subscription based episodic television.
While those numbers were bleak, they represented a one percent increase from the previous year, the DGA said.
The numbers are even worse on the film side.
On Monday, the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism released its annual film diversity report.
The study said last year women directed only 4.2 percent of the top 100 grossing movies.
The report said the ratio balances out to 23 male directors to every 1 female director working on a top film.