British Columbia

'It's not a welcoming space': female-produced documentary highlights gender gap in industry

Owning The Space is screening at Vancouver International Women's Film Festival this week

March 08, 2018

Laura Jaramillo talking to Mayumi Yoshida, an up-and-coming director, in Owning The Space. (Owning The Space/Film Freeway)
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When Vancouver-based filmmaker Laura Jaramillo first started working on her new documentary about women in the film industry, she wanted to see how the industry had shifted in the past few decades to welcome more women. 

Jaramillo sat down with two women in Owning The Space to talk about their experiences: one, a veteran director, the other, a new director.

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"There's a generation apart between them, so I thought things might be happening," she said. "But actually no, there wasn't really change — their experiences were kind of the same and that was very revealing."  

The eight-minute film explores employment and representation in the film industry, sharing stories of what it is like to work in a still largely male-dominated landscape.

Jaramillo also interviews veteran director and film producer Sharon McGowan in the documentary. (Owning The Space/Film Freeway)

Roughly 17 per cent of directors and 11 per cent of cinematographers working in Canada's film industry were women, a report by the International Women's Film Festival found in 2015.

The numbers have been increasing, with institutions like Telefilm and the National Film Board developing gender parity plans, but Jaramillo says a lack of female representation in the film industry is still a big problem.

It's a challenge both directors in her documentary have to face, Jaramillo told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"The common ground [in the documentary] was that the space for women is not a welcoming space, and it's still a very difficult space to be in," she said. "The representation is not there."

Creating space

Jaramillo has worked as a video editor and camera operator for the past five years. She was often the only woman behind the camera on projects.

"It shouldn't be different but the thing is that we don't have those role models that we can follow," she said. "If we don't see it, we kind of feel like we can't do it."  

Her documentary, Owning The Space, is screening at the Vancouver International Women's Film Festival on Tuesday night, March 8.

"It seems contradictory that we are doing a specific female festival but, and I just want to take the metaphor of the title of my film Owning The Space, it's important to create those spaces first — we don't have enough spaces for women directors," Jaramillo said.

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When Vancouver-based filmmaker Laura Jaramillo first started working on her new documentary about women in the film industry, she wanted to explore how the industry had shifted to be more welcoming towards women in the past few decades.  6:18

With files from The Early Edition.

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