“Downton Abbey” actress Victoria Emslie announced the launch of Primetime, a new database which “spotlights women from all over the world working above the line and below the line in film” at Cannes on Monday as part of an ongoing push to encourage the hiring of more women in film.
“Currently men outnumber women anywhere from 2:1 to 3:1 onscreen. Women tend to hire more women which leads to more female-led content being made; so to change the conversation onscreen we need to change the conversation behind the screen,” Emslie explained of the database’s launch at Cannes. “At Primetime we hope our mission will be met with a united front and desire to drive towards better work culture and hiring practices, in addition to hiring some pretty badass women.”
Women who wish to be included in the database must have at least three credits from IMDb, major theater companies, or APA-registered companies. Emslie, who is a part of Time’s Up U.K., says that the database will be open to “all those who experience oppression as women, including non-binary and gender non-conforming people, and all those who identity [sic] as women.”
“Primetime is working to overcome the bias that traditionally affects women within the industry,” Emslie said. “To this effect, there are no profile pictures of members, and Primetime includes testimonials to help overcome the word-of-mouth based referral culture that prevails in the industry. The focus is on the achievements of members, showcasing the quality of their work.”
At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, a group of 82 women, led by late filmmaker Agnes Varda, held a protest on the festival’s red carpet, calling for better gender representation in the film industry and for more accountability against sexual abusers. The 82 women represented the 82 female directors who had their films screened at Cannes since the festival’s inception, compared to 1,688 male directors.
“Women are not a minority in the world, yet the current state of our industry says otherwise,” Varda said at the protest. “As women, we all face our own unique challenges, but we stand together on these stairs today as a symbol of our determination and commitment to progress.”