Passion Piece: Women Behind the Camera

Passion Piece: Women Behind the Camera

March 27, 2020 | By: Raven Bradley, Director of Production

Oh hi, we’d like you to meet Raven Bradley, Director of Production at Ideas United.

After graduation from UNCSA School of Film in 2008, Raven began her freelancing career working in the production, AD    and camera departments on commercials and feature films before settling into a  position at Panavision Atlanta in 2013. Her desire to do more creative and purpose-driven work led her to Ideas United where she was hired as a production coordinator in 2016. Within 2 years, Raven moved from coordinator to producer to head of production and has worked on over 300 productions with major brands, non-profits, and universities all over the world.

When you first entered the industry, did you notice there was a lack of women?

Before I even chose to pursue this career, I knew it was white male-dominated. The university I attended was white male-dominated, my classes were white male-dominated, the professors were white male-dominated, the first set I walked onto was white male-dominated. The understanding that there was an exclusion of women, people of color, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities in this industry only increased my motivation to change that reality. 

Why do you think finding a woman on set was so rare for so long?

Historically, women were unwelcome in the workforce because of the expectation to fulfill only roles centered around the design of the female body – life carrying, birth-giving, caretaking, space making – mothers. Politically, financially, educationally, and professionally, women were only able to progress as fast as that system was willing to let them. It held everyone back for decades, and I think many young girls and women are still being pressured by outdated and dangerous traditions that expect you to get married and have children in order to be a fulfilled woman. 

The interesting thing about that generation of people who benefited from those decades of advancement when others were oppressed, is that they (and their families) are still the ultimate decision-makers in this industry, and have been for the last 50 years. In an industry where you don’t need a degree, those people hire people who look like them.

And here we are, over 100 years later, still catching up. 

Even in front of the camera, there is still very little representation. According to Professor Stacey Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in 2020, “Despite more than a decade of advocacy, the percentage of female speaking characters has not increased,” said Professor Smith. “Additionally, we saw no substantial improvement in the percentage or representation of LGBTQ characters or characters with disabilities. It is crucial not to lose sight of these, and other areas, that still need to improve.” 

How have you seen the industry change for the better due to more women in the workforce?

It improves every day. I see women like Laura Poitras, Issa Rae, Olivia Wilde, and Ava DuVernay are praised not just for being successful women in film but for being incredibly gifted filmmakers. I see more support for inclusion riders, the enforcement of diversity standards with department heads, investment seeking from people who are just as diverse as the content that needs funding.

But most importantly, I see action where there was once inaction. 

What can we do to empower women in film and create more opportunities for talented females? 

Invest in them, recommend them, vouch for them, and hire them. That means not only women, but people of color, LGBTQIA+, and the differently abled. Become a mentor that supports inclusive storytelling, advocate for those who are underrepresented, set an active example of what we should be doing. Don’t sit back and complain, do something.

Give them the f***ing job.