At this years Carlton/Women in Film & TV Awards - Cate Blanchet with the wonderful Mary Selway - winner of the Deluxe London award for creative originality (read our interview here)
Can commercial sponsorship force you to compromise yourselves in any way?

It hasn't been an issue so far because its always come from within the industry, people like PACT support us and we've also never had any Government funding.

How do you feel about that?

Personally, I feel delighted about it because I used to work in an organisation that was government funded. Yearly, we'd have to jump through thousands of hoops and fill-out thousands of application forms in order to get the funding. I also did a Lottery bid which uh .. took up eight months of my life for about £98,000, no small amount but frankly, not worth it for the time it took. Anyway, I'm very happy to work with sponsors within the industry because there is an unspoken understanding of the issues concerned. Commercial sponsors need to be dealt with differently because they are looking for a certain type of branding but, so far it hasn't been problematic and no particular company with a sensitive product has offered us so much money that we'd have to discuss it at board level, Sadly! Our main sponsor is Carlton who have dealt with our awards ceremony for seven years now, we've an extremely good working relationship with them but each of the individual awards has its own sponsor as well. Companies like; Sky, Panavision, BBC, Deluxe which she used to be Rank films, among others.

Do you function as a trade union as well?

No, because we don't have the power or the resources and to be honest, I don't think that's what our members expect from us. We can put our members in touch with other people, we also undertake and publish research into that which has an effect on the industry as a whole but we can't act as a trade union. We do lobby though and that is one thing that makes us different from every other WFTV affiliate in the world. Most act as charities for tax purposes but that stops them doing any political lobbying, we are structured as a non-profit organisation but we are not a charity. Recently, we published research into working conditions in the industry and a working time directive which we followed up a year later to assess whether the legislation had had any effect. We carried it out between men and women and, surprise surprise, it had had no impact whatsoever. That report got us a lot of publicity because the actress Sheila Hancock was prepared to speak out publicly about how appalling working conditions in the industry really were. Because of the publicity we were invited to meet Janet Anderson to discuss it, she then sent out a report with a letter from her endorsing it which became part of the process to change working conditions for the better. The argument was that if you have a working culture in a creative industry that mitigates against any diversity of the workforce and that the only people that can afford to work within it are well off, 30 something young men one can't have a very diverse industry.

How does WFTV deal with the lack of resources in particular chapters?

At the moment all the individual chapters fund the international body by paying subs to it based on the number of members of that chapter along with any donations from members. The number of members does not necessarily reflect turnover for example, LA is large but is not exponentially larger than us in terms of their number of members, they have huge amounts of money because they are based in Hollywood and its the same with New York. They have around 1000 members like us but I'd say their turnover is significantly higher because simply, the whole aspect of private giving is so different in the States.

Why is that?

There are many, many more private foundations and various sources of funding to tap in the States because they have a different culture of donating for whatever reason, be it taxation systems or their culture of individual responsibility for healthcare.

How did you get into this?

Strange, compressed route. I did theatre at college and hated it but I managed to persuade them to let me do a film option in my final year, enjoyed that a lot more and ended up receiving a training bursary from The Arts Council. This was in the good old days when they used to hand them out to every section of the arts. It was 1990 and I got the first film and video bursary for £9,000, it was a tax free lump sum, and i received a placement in an organisation and a travel allowance! They don't do those any more! I think the point of it was too fast track certain individuals, terribly elitist when you think about it but I was happy enough to take it. Anyway, I was placed in an organisation that was called LVA, what is now called the LEA based at the Lux and I ended up with a full-time job there. Two years later I moved to an organisation called Cinenova, a distribution company that handles films and videos direct by women. Five years later I saw the job at Women in Film and took it because I wanted some more commercial contacts.

What are your plans now?

Take over the world! Um, personally, take a year's holiday. It's such an enormous job with so many evening events that it practically takes over your life and you become solely identified as WFTV even when out socially. Personally, with my career, I have learnt very little in an awful lot of areas here but not a great deal about one area, so I don't really know.

What are the plans for WFTV?

In the next five years, two things, we need a virtual space and a physical space. The virtual space is important because you need to be able to compete on that level and you can offer very specific services that you cannot offer physically. The second thing is equally vital, we have no physical space where our members can meet regularly, we need a place where we can organise screenings and promote the necessary networking for our members to further their careers.

Women in Film & TV can be contacted on 0207 240 4906 or by email:

Benefits from a WFTV membership include:

  • Free monthly events including workshops, meetings with commisioning editors, seminars and preview screenings.
  • Regular social gatherings: they host breakfasts, lunches and parties, both nationally and internationally.
  • The Directory of Members: your own copy and inclusion in it.
  • A subscription to Insync, WFTV's quarterly magazine.
  • A discounted ticket for the awards lunch,
  • Access to WriteTime, a scheme for writers within the membership.

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