The simplest way to get a drama commission as a female writer, might be to never meet a television executive and use a male pseudonym – JK Rowling, George Eliot or Harper Lee might be useful beards. Because currently only 14% of prime-time TV is female-written. (Gender Inequality and Screenwriters report)
And yet television is always looking for the new voice, the different form, how to tell a story that we haven’t heard before and in a new way. If women are commissioned a fraction as much as men, then it stands to reason that they have a rich fund of stories saved up, just ready and waiting to be told. But how to get past security?
A panel, hosted by Lisa Holdsworth, recently appointed chair of the Writers Guild, will tell you where they think the opportunities lie and where they need to be unblocked. They will share how they did it and how you can do it too.
This illustrious panel comprises: producer Nicola Shindler (Happy Valley, Traces) ITV comedy controller, Saskia Schuster, writers Sarah Phelps (The ABC Murders, Dublin Murders), Kirstie Swain (Pure, and upcoming HBO romantic comedic thriller Run) and Esther Springer, Drama Producer at BBC Studios.
Excitingly, the session will also reveal the winnner of Thousand Films’ female writers competition, an initiative backed by the TV Festival. With almost 2000 entries in it’s launch year, leading industry figures will soon choose a winner from the entrants – all of whom are not yet represented by an agent. Many of those judges, along with shortlisted writers, Festival delegates and our stellar panel will join a networking drinks reception immediately after the session.
“Thousand Films and Sid Gentle set up this competition to find new female voices. The incredible response to our call for scripts in just our first year highlights the huge depth of untapped talent out there. We’re extremely grateful to our partners at the Festival in giving us a platform to ask broadcasters, VOD platforms, distributors and other producers to provide those crucial next steps to the best new writers. We hope that the whole industry can take these new voices into the fold, and that this might help to address the under-representation of women writers in television.” ”Charles Dawson, managing director, Thousand Films
Let’s relegate the male pseudonym to history.
The session is produced by Philippa Collie Cousins, drama commissioner, UKTV.