NBC launches the Female Forward program to encourage more female directors in the industry
NBC has recently announced its new initiative to launch the “Female Forward” program which is aimed at hiring more female directors. In partnership with Lesli Linka Glatter, Jennifer Salke has decided to give up to 10–20 female directors the opportunity to work on the NBC series.
The Increasing Need for More Female Directors
For Salke and Glatter, the need to search for female directors is more important than ever in this era. They strongly believe that women have a unique talent of directing compelling stories and can make an impact in the film industry. Salke is working towards her goal of gender parity and is aiming at having at least 50% female directors working along with the existing ones.
While announcing this new program, Salke claims, “There’s a huge drought of female directors and females across the board in our business. And we were really determined, after this pilot season and after staffing directors for the first season, to finally do something really actionable about that.” For Jennifer Salke, the “odds of getting one of those seasoned female directors to come on and take on a pilot or an episode are already so daunting because of the plethora of opportunity available for them”. She also highlights the fact that there are “not that many women episodic directors who have enough experience to land open pilot-directing assignments. There also are not enough well-established female directors — in features or drama series — who would be getting straight pilot offers.”
What Does the Female Forward Program Include:
Apart from promoting the talent and boosting the chances of female directors in the industry, the Female Forward program will give them the possibility of directing a pilot gig with their own credits. The Female Forward program will allow audiences to experience a different way of viewing series on NBC from the point of view and different directing styles and techniques of new female directors. The Female Forward initiative will build upon the current programs of the NBC and is expected to begin with the 2018–19 season.
“What we want to do with Female Forward is, we can start building a foundation so the first year we will have 10 directors coming out of that who will have directed episodes under their belt — and hopefully they do more than a single episode — the next year there will be 20 on the program, and if we grow the program there can be even more every year. There will be a pipeline of more directors coming in every year, and we’ll give people their first pilot directing opportunity, there is no question”, Salke adds.
Encouraging Female Directors of Diverse Backgrounds to Come Forward
Their programs have previously promoted successful directors and storytellers of various backgrounds, including Alan Yang, Mindy Kaling, Sharat Raju and Lil Rel Howery. Karen Horne, the senior VP of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion of NBC is looking forward to seeing many more successful female directors in the future.
Glatter is confident that this program will empower our girls and forge a path for them. She says, “It shouldn’t be harder for our daughters to direct than for our sons. It should be an equal playing field.”