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Working Toward More Women in Post Production

Working Toward More Women in Post Production

Females from across the post-production field tackled the need for more presence behind the camera and throughout the production process at a recent event held at our Los Angeles studio facilities.

The evening was held in collaboration with the Hollywood Professional Association’s Women in Post group, and featured a panel moderated by Netflix independent and studio film post production manager Heidi Vogel (“A Wrinkle in Time,” “Pulp Fiction”). The panel covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from early career mentors to the keys to successful collaborations behind the scenes. However, the focus on increased representation in the post-production industry struck a chord with the roughly 150 attendees from that field.

One panelist, Tatiana S. Riegel, discussed the lack of female collaborators she’s had in post-production in the past despite 34 years in the business working with the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson.

“I have never worked with a female sound supervisor, color timer, composer and I think I worked with one visual effects female producer in 34 years,” Riegel said on a recent Hollywood Professional Association Women in Post panel held at Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters. “I find that really horrifying.”

Thankfully, Riegel found herself in solid company at the event. The Oscar nominee was joined by four other women across various post-production fields: visual effects producer Lauren Ellis (Snowden, Money Monster), composer Germaine Franco (Tag, Coco), feature colorist Maxine Gervais (Black Panther, American Sniper) and Oscar-nominated sound editor, mixer and engineer Ai-Ling Lee (First Man, La La Land).

Launched in 2013, HPA’s Women in Post organization aims to provide visibility and leadership opportunities for women working in professional content creation across all media through networking events, creative panels and more. The organization is currently home to more than more than 1,000 members.

“Being a creative woman in today’s world is really important because in so many fields, we have had only one voice and we all know what that is,” said Franco. “Our voices are so full of our experience as women and that we bring something different to every project.”

In addition to gender diversity, Franco also touched on the importance of ethnic diversity in the industry. She made history as the first Latina composer to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Music Branch and the first to receive the Annie Award for outstanding achievement for music in an animated feature for “Coco.”

“When we participate and collaborate, we’re bringing a voice that has been unheard for quite some time, and not just women -- I’m talking about people of color,” she said.

Gervais discussed the importance of not just pushing those in the industry outside of their comfort zone but pushing the audience at home out of their comfort zone as well: “It also helps the world to experience those different angles and perspectives.”

Netflix strives to shine a light on underrepresented voices and cultures in our original content and putting more women behind the camera is an important part of that. In recent years, the number of Netflix original films directed by women has steadily risen since we started making films in 2015. (The Los Angeles Times reported in August 2018 that Netflix “will release more films directed by women in the next four months than the combined six major Hollywood studios have released in the entire year to date.”) Many of these films also include women in prominent post-production roles such as Franco, who served as composer on this year’s comedy Someone Great.

In 2018, a group of Netflix employees founded ION (Inclusion Outreach Networking) to bolster inclusion and diversity efforts through panelist discussions, networking events, STEP programs and city group partnerships. The latter has led to collaborations with nonprofits like RespectAbility, which aims to advance opportunities for people with disabilities, and Exceptional Minds, which teaches visual effects to young adults with autism -- several participants which have since been hired to work on Netflix series and films.

Franco, however, said discussions and programs like this are just the beginning. “Even though we’re all talking about it, it’s not moving forward as fast as I would love to see it,” she said. “For us to want to have those people in the room with us, we have to educate them too.”

Looking out at the rooftop full of females from across the industry, Riegel was more optimistic about the future. “(I hope) that we have changed in a positive way in the future, that we have a variety of people in all departments contributing,” she said. “I really hope nobody else has to go through 34 years of not experiencing that.”

Photo courtesy of HPA