Gender Matters Flows Through To Ad Industry Via Fiction’s Tsuno ‘Break the Cycle’ Campaign

Gender Matters Flows Through To Ad Industry Via Fiction’s Tsuno ‘Break the Cycle’ Campaign

Production Company, Fiction, has just released an ad for a social enterprise called TSUNO, a sanitary products company where 50 per cent of profits go towards empowering women around the world, specifically in sanitation and education.

Emma Haarburger
Posted by Emma Haarburger

In light of all the press about Gender Matters and the Inside Film women’s issue – Fiction created an ad made by an all female crew to highlight the gender disparity of women in on-set roles.

There is still an extensive gender disparity of women working in the advertising, and film & TV industry. The 2015 Director’s Issue of Campaign Brief featured 108 directors, only a mere 14 of which were women. This amounts to the reality that less than 8 per cent of all directors working across commercial production companies are women. 

With women making up over 50 per cent of film-going audiences in Australia , and 85 per cent of consumer choices in households, it’s a wonder things haven’t changed sooner. 

Inside Film magazine’s recent women in film and TV issue focused on top female creatives and cinematographers currently working in the field. It also stressed upon the issue of the large number of female film school graduates compared to females working in the industry. 

With enough discussion in and out of the media, funding bodies and industry organisations are paying attention. It’s a reality that is slowly starting to change. 

Screen Australia’s release of its Gender Matters Report in 2015, and the subsequent Gender Matter Initiative – dedicated to funding female-driven projects and careers – saw a record number of applications and the largest cohort of projects funded in a single day in the agency’s history. 

The Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) recently announced its partnership with The Communications Council and seven advertising production companies to offer commercial and content directing mentorships to female directors. 

All of these initiatives aim at increasing women represented in heads-of-department roles and top creative roles, but what is being done about the women represented in production crew roles? 

This is where the Tsuno and Fiction story begins. 

Tsuno is a social enterprise that sells sanitary products, with 50 per cent of the profits going towards charities focused on empowering women around the world, with the main focus being education and menstrual support.

Created by Roslyn Campbell in 2014, she crowdfunded her first shipping container of sanitary pads and has just created first crowdfunding campaign to launch her new product range of tampons. 

Director Natalie Erika James and producer Emma Haarburger stumbled across Tsuno on social media, and jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with Campbell on an ad campaign. The pair forms one half of Fiction Films, a production company started by producer Jackie Fish and director Jake Robb.

James herself recently received Gender Matters funding for her feature project ‘Relic’ with Carver Films, and Haarburger has recently joined producer Janine Barnes at Happening Films, who has an array of female-driven projects on her slate. 

Both James and Haarburger noticed that although there was funding available for top creative roles, there was still a gender inequality in on-set roles. Influenced by the female-focused industry initiatives, the pair decided to make the ad with an all-female crew to highlight this gender disparity.

“We wanted to make an ad, made by women, for women, to help out women,” said Haarburger.

“The approach was not to exclude anybody, but about creating awareness to make a more conscious effort to work with both genders equally across the board,” added James. 

Generously lending her talents to the project, the TVC features the voiceover of Australian film icon Rachel Ward. It was filmed by Katie Millwright (known for her recent cinematography on Looking for Grace, Venice IFF & Toronto IFF) and Sydney based Cate Cahill (Max Max: Fury Road) did the final sound mix.

“It was amazing to see the generous donation of time from all of our talented industry professionals who wanted to get on board for a good cause, and to have the experience of working with an all female crew,” said Haarburger. 

With many production crew working across a range of TVC and long form, responsibility needs to be taken to ensure the equality of women employed on set. Both women and men need to make more of a conscious effort to hire equally not just in top creative roles, but below the line roles as well. 

We can only hope to make the change we wish to see. It has to start with us as well. 

So next time you assemble your team, think not just from the top of the chain. Look for the proportion of men and women on set. It’s an issue that needs to be supported further than hiring one top creative role. Equality has to be present on all levels, in order to foster talent that has the opportunity to grow.