Emma Thompson praised by Andrea Riseborough ahead of Times Up launch

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Emma Thompson praised by Andrea Riseborough ahead of Times Up launch



Emma Thompson  has ‘paved the way for female filmmakers’ (Picture: Getty/Rex/AP)Andrea Riseborough and Dame Heather Rabbatts have praised the ‘wonderful’ Emma Thompson for paving the way for female filmmakers, after the actress chose to leave a job due to the hiring of a man accused of sexual harassment.
‘I wanted to have a glass of red wine and have a bath and light a candle,’ laughs Andrea when asked how Emma’s decision made her feel.
John Lasseter left Disney company Pixar after claims that he had sexually harassed female co-workers but was then hired by Skydance; although Emma had already started work on the film Luck, it was revealed that she had immediately begun discussions about her exit from the production and then decided to leave.
‘We all wanted to hug her,’ says Dame Heather Rabbatts, ‘it was the most eloquent letter, and the fact she stood up means such a huge amount to all of us in the industry and for all those young women coming in to the industry.’
Andrea adds: ‘It paves the way for them to come to the realisation that they do have a choice.’

Emma chose to not work with John Lasseter (Picture: Getty Images)On Thursday Andrea and Heather, TIME’S UP UK Chair, launched Times Up UK’s #4percentchallenge, an initiative that calls for the British film industry to commit to working with female directors on feature films in the next 18 months.
In the past decade, women made up only 4% of the directors who helmed the top grossing 1000 films – and although that may not surprise you, it does, as Andrea puts it, ‘suck’.
‘We need to move on from those statistics so there is a suggestion from Times Up that we all commit to working with a female director in the next 18 months which seems small but could make a huge difference,’ says Heather.
There are no British companies – Film 4 or BBC for example – nor British actors on the list yet but the women insist the call has just gone out and they are hopeful that more names will join the campaign.
Emma Watson helped to launch Times Up in the UK in 2018 as hundreds of actresses including Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Eva Longoria, Emma Stone and America Ferrera, made the announcement via a full-page advert printed in the New York Times.

Times Up was launched at the Golden Globes in 2018 (Picture: FilmMagic)It’s been over 16 months since the Me Too movement led to the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, the uprising of female voices worldwide and the launch of Times Up.
With so many sexual harassment stories by women against powerful men still coming out, there is a worry that people become desensitised or weary of the fight – but Heather believes that all depends on the audience.
‘I don’t think women audiences or directors or writers are desensitised,’ she insists.
‘It is the same problems we’ve had for the last 80,000 years of human existence but it’s just under another name,’ laughs Andrea.
‘Yes of course, being desensitised towards violence towards women is something the human race has always struggled with. The point of Times Up is we hopefully can present a platform for other industries to have a voice about what’s going on there and the disparity they experience.’

Ava is a great example of pushing for women behind the scenes (Picture: Getty Images)With TV arguably becoming a bigger industry than Hollywood and the number of platforms for films and TV increasing, there are fewer excuses for the lack of women behind the scenes and one women who is pushing harder than anyone else is Ava DuVernay.
‘Ava is a great example, she commissioned women to be part of Queen Sugar [the OWN drama series] but has then also put women in positions of power when she has been structuring sets so they get opportunities they never had,’ says Andrea, ‘and everyone gets a chance to work on their CV.’
‘On a grassroots level as well, it is really helping women gets jobs in the industry.’

Andrea uses the inclusion rider in all her features (Picture: Getty Images)Andrea herself is no slouch when it comes to helping women though; Mother Sucker is Andrea’s female-led production company and one which she began when she was screwed over by a studio, and she uses the inclusion rider on all her features.
Nancy, her company’s 2018 film, was named as one of 20 movies certified as a gender-balanced production by the ReFrame coalition of industry leaders and IMDBPro.
‘It’s so easy not to be inclusive, to just flow with the tide rather than sitting down and looking at the numbers and taking responsibility,’ she says.
‘[Nancy] was 90% female crew, 60% persons of colour, so that felt like a real achievement.
‘But what I would say is, I am asked by guys if that is sexist. And I understand because on a microcosmic level it is, but if you stand back and look at bigger picture, in terms of the balance? Giving those 30 women a job is so minor that it doesn’t even tip the scales in terms of getting to 50 50 by 2020.
‘So that’s my reasoning, and I hope in the future we don’t have to do that but we do need, in this transition, to be mindful of who we employ.’
TV has also become home to the rise in popularity of true crime stories, many of which glorify sexual violence and murder on screen, and covering these stories in a way that don’t exploit women can be tough.
There’s no easy answer to this, with Andrea suggesting that ‘any retelling of any story that is so harrowing is always traumatising and so that’s difficult’ but as Heather points out, female writers and directors would help to bring ‘a different lens to that issue of violence against women and the portrayal will be different’.
More: Film

TV is certainly not without its problems, and Heather suggests there is still a big challenge in getting female writers commissioned.
‘We know we have heavy lifting to do but what is amazing is we are living through a new age in TV with so many platforms,’ she says, ‘and therefore with so much more content being created and produced we should hope to see much better gender balance across all sets.
‘One of the advantages we have now compared to our colleagues years ago, is that through social media you can reach out and find your director of photography and editors.
‘If you look you will find us.’
‘It’s not hard to take a few minutes to source a female grip, there are so many platforms online, it’s easy to do that recruitment,’ adds Andrea.
And, as Andrea reflects: ‘It is not an excuse to say, “I wanted to hire a women but I couldn’t find a women”. We make up half the world’s population, we are all over the place.’
Times Up UK’s pledge for the #4PercentChallenge comes ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March.

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