Diversity in film: Why I set up my own production company

Pauline Blanchet, 23, lives in Paris, France. She is a producer and set up Aral Sea Productions in response to the lack of diversity in film, in front of and behind the camera.

Pauline Blanchet, 23, lives in Paris, France. She is a producer and set up Aral Sea Productions in response to the lack of diversity in film, in front of and behind the camera.

I moved to London at the age of six with my family from Lome, Togo. During my school years, I shot two documentaries. One was for an NGO (non-government organization) in Albania on child migrants and the other was on the community of people living in caves in Andalucia in Spain.

My background is varied, I like to have my fingers in many pies. I completed a BA in International Development and Linguistics in 2019. My research focused on representations of refugeehood in graphic novels and comic books. While studying, I was involved in many projects, primarily in podcasting.

I produced two podcasts, one on mental health and one activism in the UK. After getting experience working in a photo studio and a production company, I realised there were a lot of barriers to the creative industry.

What a producer does

A producer helps with the financing of films and getting projects from script to screen.

On a day to day basis, I make budgets for films and apply for grants.

The role involves managing different sections such as social media, reviewing new projects, liaising with creatives, editing our online magazine, and doing outreach to different clients.

While in the production of a film, I make sure everything is running smoothly and all aspects are well organised.

Diversity in film

I launched Aral Sea Productions as a way of getting more representations on screen, build all-female crews, and making the creative industry more ethical and sustainable.

There are many aspects that need to be changed in the industry and they can change if you take each barrier one by one and find solutions to make them easier to cross.

Read more: How my passion for movies led to a career in the film industry

I wanted to also build a community of creatives who would be able to support each other and make projects which can have a social impact.

It was also important for me to have a more diverse range of subjects when it came to storytelling and to have a platform where those stories could be told, without exploitation.

Why I think it is important to have all-female crews

The film industry, like many others, is male-dominated.

A study found that when a woman is directing/writing a film, 58 per cent of protagonists were female. When a man is directing a film, only 30 cents of the protagonists were female.

This shows that having more representation on the screen directly correlates with having more representation in film crews. One way of doing this is empowering women by having supportive and strong female crews.

What needs to change in the industry

The industry needs to be more accessible. One of the first things to be removed is discrimination. 31 per cent of film producers in the UK attended a private school for secondary education (compared to 6.5 per cent in the UK as a whole), 90 per cent attended university and 15 cent went to Oxford or Cambridge (compared to one per cent of the population).

People from other underrepresented groups are very low across all aspects of the industry. Companies and organisations need to embrace fair employment practices as well as reach out to certain groups.

Personally, coming from a privileged background, I have not encountered the worst of the industry. Whilst everyday sexism at the workplace has been apparent, it has been more apparent for my peers. Speaking up is important as well as standing as an ally for others. This is what I’ve done when faced with day to day issues.

Getting into the industry

Reaching out to national organisations is a great way of seeing where the standards should be. There are usually a lot of mentoring, webinars, and free courses online which are worth investing your time into.

Getting support from people in the industry by sending them an email and seeing if you can get work experience is also a great way of understanding the industry better. I have thousands of emails only to get a dozen of replies but from those dozen, I’ve been able to land work.

I would recommend seeing what is happening locally to you, getting together with some friends who have the same passions, and trying to make a low budget film. The more you create the better. You’d be surprised at how much you can make for free.

Check out our website to see the work we do on diversity in film and what projects we have coming up. We are always looking for new projects to produce! Email me at pauline@aralseaproductions.com to see how you could be involved.

We are building a global network so please don’t hesitate to communicate with us, no matter where you are in the world!

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