Funding Female Features: Crowdfunding for Gender Equity in the Film Industry
Rose, Talitha Kanika
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The U.S. feature film industry as a gendered organization, in which networks bound by race, gender, class and overt heterosexuality tend to exclude members of other groups. Hollywood filmmaking is a production process with high uncertainty about how to produce hits, resulting in discretion given to managers to use their personal networks to limit risk. This combination of organizational qualities limits diversity among filmmakers, such that previous research has shown women remain vastly underrepresented both on-screen and behind the camera. Crowdfunding has recently emerged as an alternative to corporate funding and traditional venture capitalism, where people donate small amounts of money online to fund business projects. Given underrepresentation of marginalized groups in the film industry and filmmakers' difficulty funding their projects, I show the use of crowdfunding to answer (1) whether it offers a more gender-equal opportunity than direct funding by major studios and (2) whether the films produced through crowdfunding are more female-centered when compared to non-crowdfunded films. Using a sample of 124 crowdfunded and traditionally funded feature films, released between 2012 and 2014; I found that crowdfunded films were more likely to employ female filmmakers and protagonist(s) than traditionally funded films. Additionally crowdfunded films had more filmmakers who are racial minorities, and filmmakers and protagonist(s) who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. These results suggest that while women are far from achieving equity in the film industry as filmmakers or protagonists, crowdfunding may provide an alternative avenue for attaining financing for films, outside of the structure of Hollywood studios.
- Masters Theses