Check out the article in Forbes here.
When I entered the production business as an aspiring filmmaker in the early 2000s, I looked around and realized that all of my mentors were men. They were wise and generous titans of industry to be sure, but the drive to meet inspiring women working in my field was strong and the resources were glaringly few. It wasn’t until 2010 when Cutter Productions was certified as a ”Women-Owned Business” that I began to meet other creative female business owners. So, upon becoming certified, I shifted my mission towards the empowerment and inclusion of women and embraced being ”women-owned and women inspired.” Therefore, the impetus to start a mentorship community was two-fold:
So, in 2015 I merged my network of creative experts, alumna, and internship coordinators at various universities and Cutter Connections was born! Now in its fifthyear, Cutter Connections is a mentorship program for women in all stages of their careers in advertising, film, and digital media which has hosted over 640 women at events held both at women-operated business across the New York City and during film festivals.
When it comes to championing the rise of women in film, you can’t just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk! It’s easier to hire men.There is simply a larger male pool of DPs, gaffers, grips, and camera assistants. You have to spend more time vetting prospective women in male-dominated roles, but putting in the work is the only way to move the needle. You have to take risks on women who may not have risen up the ranks as quickly because they just weren’t given the opportunity. It’s not about exclusion, it’s about inclusion and levelling the playing field. She for She and He for She! We’re all in this together to create change, and so we must also inspire the men in our networks to look beyond the modalities in which they were brought up. This sentiment rings true for a lot of the work It’s On Us does to combat sexual assault.
Everyone is thrilled by the sense of collective support. Cutter Connections has led to numerous jobs for women trying to break into the industry, as well as strategic partnerships amongst fellow mentors.
This year, I co-produced a film for Tribeca Studios that celebrated the history and intersection of women in hip-hop and fashion with a 90 percent female crew. That film, paired with Cutter Connections’ reach, has given us a platform to promote and champion important causes such as It’s On Us, all while doing so with majority female crews. Along with IOU we know that diverse crews are not only diverse in demographics but diverse in creative thought. All or majority female crews are now the norm at Cutter and our network helps us put our beliefs into action and onto sets.
Cutter joined as the live-action production partner for It’s On Us’ creative campaign, I Owe You. The campaign features three videos that serve as an introduction to three key subject areas—bystander education, survivor support, and sexual assault awareness. They will be shown on-campus in student-led organizing efforts. The campaign debuts today and will be rolled out nationwide across 250+ college campuses throughout the semester.
Utilizing relationships established through Cutter Connections, I am proud to report that the entire campaign was produced with a final count of 21:3, female to male ratio! As another example of this seismic shift happening in all of those involved, Cutter-rostered director Sheldon Candis advocated that the DP be a woman and the crew be diverse. It’s not about exclusion but about identifying the need for diversity on sets with the hope that it becomes an organic practice for all of our peers. I’m thankful to Cutter Connections and It’s On Us for providing a launchpad in this respect.
The I Owe You campaign was a true collaborative effort between Cutter and the Creative Alliance. Given the parcel to mobilizing film crews for a PSA, our teams had to work closely together, maintain honest communication, and collectively pool our resources to create an impactful and visually arresting final product. The Creative Alliance staff supported our efforts entirely and with passion. If the goal is to elevate diverse creatives to develop the most poignant creative content, then committed and altruistic partners like these are the vehicle.