A little post about sex (and ratios).

We pay lots of attention to ratios on the 72 project. We started the whole project to guarantee a festival screening, something that hadn’t happened with Peppermint. Conor Murphy and I wanted to make a film in Galway during the festival. They’d screen it if we’d make it. The ratio is 1:1.

Shooting ratio is how much footage you record to how much actually makes it into the final film. In my film ‘Saharan Diary’, the ratio was approximately 25:1. But that’s documentary. Our ratio on Des & Mo was approximately 3:1. You’ve got three chances to get it right. The documentary crew for ‘I’ve Got This Idea For A Film’ (which followed us), had a ratio of approximately 40:1. Bad luck if your scenes are in the 39 hours that are on the cutting room floor (!).

So, because we’re interested in this kind of thing, it’s only natural that we look at the ratio for the actors. We’ve been delighted by the applications that we’ve received and we’ve endeavoured to reply to everyone who expressed an interest. Here’s a breakdown of all the applications that we’ve had from one of the websites that we promoted the role on:

Casting stats

So, with the exception of Tom, Dick and Harry, the rest can be read as direct ratios, as we only have one cast space available for them – e.g; Phillip is 33:1. Tom, Dick and Harry needs to be divided by three, so approximately 32:1 for each of those roles. Obviously the most competitive by a country mile is Gemma: 90:1.

But these stats ring alarm bells for us. Because the ratio of male roles to female roles is 3:1. There’s 243 male applicants to 137 female applicants. That’s 1.77 males for every one female, despite being three times likelier to land a roll. What’s the message? We’re not creating enough opportunity for women. 

For the beady-eyed amongst you, you’ll notice we didn’t make a call for DJ Kirsty, Angel or Maggie in the script, but we didn’t call for Cameron or DJ Declan either, so that argument is redundant. In our defence, we’re already addressing much of this concern in the script, but the casting applications only reinforces the point.

Furthermore, I’d like to think we’re actually quite an equal opportunities bunch. ‘Watching & Waiting’ was a cast ratio of 1:1 male and female. ‘The Ballad of Des and Mo’ was 1:1 too. But what about the films that aren’t giving consideration to this ratio? Scary stuff.

Really scary stuff. Just google ‘celluloid ceiling‘ to see the extent of the problem. How do we challenge this? Well, it shouldn’t be too difficult right? Just recruit more women to your projects? Well, as I write, there are six of us working on this project and we’re six men. We’re hoping to address the gender imbalance when it comes to the shoot, but we’re the six men who came together through the Masters and local film community to get things made. On ‘Des & Mo’ it was 2:1 in favour of the males behind the camera, a dramatic improvement on our 5:1 in Galway. We’re hoping to address this imbalance on the next shoot to 1:1.

Why the concern? It’s because the 72 project is about the way in which we can work differently from the way industry usually works. It is our whole purpose to challenge assumptions, where ever we find them.

And where we fail, we work hard to correct ourselves. Looking at ratios helps us do this.

James

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