Production company MD calls out 'dismissive attitude towards female clients'

'Commenting that their notes might be too 'nitpicky,' or that their suggestions are motivated by the need to please their boss, who always seems to be male in this assumed scenario.'

Elyse Sara
Partner and Managing Director US
Chuck Studios

Tell us about one thing that's happened recently that leads you to believe that there's still a problem? 

Many of the client representatives we work with on set are women. As someone who has worked in the tabletop production industry for a number of years, I've noticed far more women in marketing roles for food brands than men.

I’ve experienced -- both recently and throughout my career -- a dismissive attitude towards our female clients (i.e. commenting that their notes might be too ‘nitpicky,’ or that their suggestions are motivated by the need to please their boss, who always seems to be male in this assumed scenario). This attitude stems from men and women alike, and I’m sure at some point I have been guilty of this myself. 

I cannot help but wonder if the same attitude would be present if more of these clients were men. Although we can’t make a science out of the situation, I do recall a greater acknowledgment of respect towards the few male clients I’ve worked with.  

Not only is it problematic that more men do not feel comfortable assuming positions that may traditionally be considered a ‘woman’s role’, but also that women in marketing positions face a blatant double standard. 

How about something that proves we're making progress?

I have seen more and more crossover of genders amongst crew roles that have historically swayed either male or female. For example, just looking at our shoots from this past month, we had two female Assistant Camera Operators and two male Food Stylists on set. 

In recent history, we’ve worked with female Directors of Photography, Gaffers, and Truck Production Assistants, and we currently represent two female tabletop Directors, each of whom have created an aesthetic uniquely their own. This is particularly impressive to me, as the high-tech nature of tabletop shooting (focused so much on motion control robots and high-speed cameras, for example) may have kept women a bit on the outside, in a similar way that the hard sciences have been gender skewed for so long. It’s refreshing to see a more equal playing field opening up, and I’m excited to see how the creative industry as a whole will catch up to this much-needed shift.

What else needs to be done to get there?

The best thing we can do to improve the situation is simply speak up, and every time. If we hear someone make a belittling remark, it is our responsibility to address that injustice rather than remain silent. Of course, this can be easier said than done. Perhaps reading this now, we all agree that we should and could do this, but often times, when struck in the moment (perhaps in the midst of a pre-production meeting with lots of important clients), it may be more difficult to respond appropriately. It is at these times in particular when we must speak up to instigate change.

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