For Your Inconsideration

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From top: Irish Film and Television (IFTA) 2018 actress nominees, from left: Sarah Bolger Saoirse Ronan and Ann Skelly; Terry McMahon

The elephant in the room is sitting on a woman.

Multiple people – women and men and possibly transgender – were nominated for this year’s Irish Film and Television Awards. Some folks are cynical about the IFTAs but huge kudos should be given to Áine Moriarty and Deirdre Hopkins for turning these awards into an increasingly impressive annual ceremony.

I have been nominated for a few IFTAs. I’ve presented a few of them. A film I made even won a few. But, this year, instead of celebrating the nominees, there has been a furious backlash to the announcement that only three women have been selected for the Lead Actress category.

Enraged pundits are demanding to know why there are so few central roles written for women. Demanding to know who precisely is stopping women writing and directing female-led films. Demanding to know whose heads will roll.

The Irish Film Board has created five different initiatives exclusively for female writers and directors. They did so because the uptake from female writers for an earlier gender defined initiative was far less than expected. The reason for this was put down to “unconscious bias.” Perhaps this is true. So let’s examine the conscious facts.

The Irish Film Board has 18 staff members. 15 women and three men.

The Irish Film Board has seven board members. Five are women. Two are men.

Screen Training Ireland – the educational arm of The Irish Film Board – has six staff members. Six women and no men.

There are films made without Film Board support but, in general, this means that the decision behind the funding and the development of Irish cinema is made by 26 women and five men.

(It’s difficult to ascertain precisely how many script editors the Film Board is facilitating but anecdotal evidence suggests the significant majority are women.)

We need to name the elephant in the room. The male elephant. We cannot move towards true equality until those five men are removed. And replaced by five women. It’s clear that those 5 men are the reason no scripts with central female roles are being written and directed by women. Shame on them. And shame on every man who idly allows this barbaric inequity to continue.

The evidence is clear. The answer is simple. Only when that ratio of 26 women to 5 men is addressed can we finally come clean about who is stopping women writing female-led scripts.

Only when a woman is finally able to sit down and write her female-led script without having five  men standing over her shoulder, dragging the pencil out of her fingers, or clogging up her keyboard with their male made muck, can we progress.

Only when that ratio of 26 women to 5 men becomes 31 women to zero men can we finally have the kind of equality that we all deserve.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69

The IFTas take place on Thursday, February 15.

Montage: IFTA

76 thoughts on “For Your Inconsideration

    1. Charlie

      He sure is and I strongly suspect he’s not far off the mark. Imho, you’re far more likely to get funding these days if you’re a woman. I’ve known a few people who have sat in front of the IFB committee in recent years looking for funding and 4 of the 5 were women. Just sayin’.

      1. realPolithicks

        It sounds like the tables have been turned on the men and they’re all bent out of shape…gas.

    1. barelylegal

      you haven’t been out much lately have you bertie?

      women come with all kinds of appendages and movable parts these days

      1. Bertie Blenkinsop

        I have a dual confession to make.
        I have been in the room while Celebrity Big Brother was on this year.
        That’s not even the bad part.
        There’s a drag act on the show called Courtney Act.
        Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I seem to have fallen for him.
        And I don’t even like blondes (never mind willies)

        1. barelylegal

          I don’t know what to say man

          but I do admire your courage in coming out to confess this in public –

          ie. that you were at home watching celebrity big brother

          1. barelylegal

            lol – i’m not judging you on THAT

            it’s happened “a friend of mine” too

            it happens to us all bertie once in a while

            #IrelandsSecretShame

        2. some old queen

          Labels are for clothes Bertie.

          There is a once a month dance club in The Button Factory, Dublin called Euphoria. Men women gay srt8 and every shade of everything in between. Some of the most stunning trannys I have ever seen btw but, just because you appreciate the beauty of their art doesn’t mean it has to be sexual.

          There are no rules, everybody’s free to feel good.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyujLvPxZnM

    2. :-Joe

      I would repeat it because my reply was a lol, splutter…

      Problem is I’m on the German-US invented Mr Cacao Leaf’s Naughty list for adventures in colourful language….

      I’m with Terry on this one…. #MeTV3

      :-J

  1. Tina Tequila

    and there it is. add Terry Mc Mahon to Frankie Gaffney and Joe.ie in the list of ‘woke jokes’

  2. Mansions

    Look at the vibrant state of French cinema and TV – heavily funded by government, the pride of the country, regularly producing fabulous native work, lots of films and TV for children (what has Ireland got?) and finely plotted comedies, thrillers, romances, horror – and look at Ireland where the government gives a little reluctant support.

    You can judge a country by the kind of films and TV it makes for its children, and the kind of support it gives to its creative workers. Ireland, you’re not looking well.

    1. b

      isn’t a bit unfair to compare the level of output in France which along with huge resources has a demand for local language content compared to a country the size of Ireland?

      you can be sure France produces a load of dross too

    2. Lush

      Having lived here for a considerable time, I can assure you that for every Big Blue or La Mante, there are at least five productions that are pure merde.

    3. :-Joe

      France hosts the Festival Du Cannes along with many other festivals and awards ceremonies and has a much larger poulation of cinema goers. Together with historically, a much richer culture and respect for the creative visual arts and obviously cinema in particular.

      :-J

  3. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Irish girls have a look, don’t they? All high cheekboney. I never noticed it until some Yankeedoodle pointed it out to me.

  4. Nigel

    So there are a lot of women in the background doing a lot of the thankless, inglorious heavy lifting so stuff can get made, and you throw it back in their faces? Nice one.

    1. Andrew

      Thankless? Are they doing it for free Nigel?
      Do you get ‘thanked’ for doing your job? Is there any ‘glory’ in it? Is glory a requirement,nay, is it a right?

      1. Nigel

        So you’re agreeing with me that its thankless and inglorious? Nobody said they had a ‘right’ to those things, merely contrasting them with the glitz and glamour of the awards.

        Me, I get thanked all the time, and the occasional glimpse of a corner of a tiny piece of glory. Nobody tries to use me as a scapegoat for gender imbalance at the creative end of an industry, either.

        1. Andrew

          I am saying that they get paid, which is all the ‘thanks’ they should need Nigel.
          If they want thanks and glory maybe they should involve themselves in a role that will given them those things. Most people don’t need it for validation.
          glitz and glamour? The IFTA’s ?

          1. Nigel

            I said nothing about what they might ‘want’ or ‘need’ since I can’t possibly speak for them. A thank you, by the way, isn’t a form of payment, it’s a courtesy. What a weirdly limited and mechanistic view of the world you have.

          2. Narky Anne

            Fair dues Nigel. You patience when making a point when confronted with idiots is an inspiration.
            I’ll still be a wretch but, one in admiration of yous, like.

      1. barelylegal

        No I don’t think it was

        it was just the usual badly phrased, attention-seeking, unnecessarily provocative sort of rant that Terry appears to employ as his only style of argument, his stock-in-trade if you will

        I think Nigel figured that all out pretty clearly – as I also did

        1. Charles

          “Badly phrased ” & “attention-seeking”,
          You could say the exact same about you barelylegal.

          1. barelylegal

            You probably could Charles

            I mean here I am out here giving my opinion on things in public fora, like the jumped up, prattish, over-zealous, precious little fairy cake that I am.

            Nice of you to notice though. Normally no one does.

  5. :-Joe

    2018 is the year of the woman.

    Get used to it lads… haha… It’s only tough if you have a problem with it.

    :-J

  6. Cian

    Terry’s not going far enough:
    1. re-introduce the “Irish Film Censor’s Office”; ensure that only films that have female directors/writers are allowed.
    2. Change the rules for RTE (and other broadcasters incl Netflix) that only films that pass the Bechdel test can be shown.
    3. Have a house-to-house search for any DVDs/VHS that contain any banned films.
    4. …profit?

  7. bisted

    …Hey Bodger…why did you delete my innocent comment when you have published actual notes here in the past?

  8. ReproBertie

    Actors Sarah Bolger, Saoirse Ronan and Ann Skelly nominated for Lead Actress? Once again we see “one rule for the awards people and another for us plebs” in full effect.

  9. rotide

    I was in shock for a minute that i found myself agreeing with Terry McMahon until I realised that once you eliminate the noise of twitter and the types that are constantly needing to find outrage, no one actually has a problem with any of this.

    1. wellness

      Agree. I have no issue with the basic sentiments expressed.

      However, I would question his motive. Can Terry confirm whether his musings are in response to the most overused conversational gambit within the film industry… “well , honey , I really have seen some crap in my time… but this… hun.. this…..really?”

  10. Johnny Keenan

    There ya go again Terry. Upsetting the bourgeoisie with numbers and facts. They don’t want to hear that.
    So on that point. There are 32 arts officers in Republic Of Ireland. 21 are women. Should I dig a little deeper and see what political persuasion they are or what they have done for the real artists in their area.
    When I say real artists I mean the ones who commit their life to their art craft. Not the ones who are buddies with the arts officers and know when and how funding is available. The ones who also have a nice public servant job and treat art as a hobbie.
    We all know them.

  11. Niamh

    I wouldn’t be messing with the Wimmin of Film in these post-Weinstein days, Terry. Imagine how many cack-handed seductions you’ve got in your history, just waiting to be transformed into court cases.

    1. Jack Jameson

      The sad part is that slurs like yours are actually effective in censoring legitimate discussion. We’re at one of those points in time where even an accusation, however false, can destroy a person’s reputation and livelihood. People really do learn nothing from history. Or maybe you understand just how toxic your comment is.

    2. CitymanMichael (@CitymanMichael)

      Wow, Niamh, you have transmorgified a piece about the gender make up of Irish Film Authorities into a suggestion that the writer is a sexual predator – that’s amazing.

  12. Nice Anne

    “It’s difficult to ascertain precisely…”
    “…but anecdotal evidence”

    But shure, don’t let that stop you giving an opinion despite not knowing the facts.

  13. Aisling C

    Is it possible where ‘Niamh’ typed “c a c k -handed seduction ” Niamh meant to type ” c (then ‘o’ not ‘a’) c k – handed seduction” ? In which case, Niamh, that”d be a private thing and case dismissed in any court. Also, you owe Terry an apology.

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