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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Pittsburgh to host Women in Film and Television International Summit

The Women in Film and Television International Summit will be held May 16-18 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel.

The Pittsburgh chapter of Women in Film and Television International (WiFTI) will host the organization’s 14th international summit at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh this weekend. With over forty chapters worldwide, WiFTI represents an impressive resource for women looking to get involved in the heavily gender biased world of film and television production.

Competing against other potential host cities, WiFTI-Pittsburgh won the chance to host the three day summit which brings together women and men from across WiFTI’s chapters to educate and engage through events and panel disccussions with guests like
Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, CBS VP of Current Programming Rosemary Tarquino and award-winning CNN anchor and correspondent Martin Savidge.

Women continue to remain marginalized in film and television, with even fewer women represented in production roles like director, producer or entertainment executive. A cursory look into the demographics of film productions paints a pretty grim picture for the gender disparity that persists across the entire industry.

According to a recent study conducted by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, in film alone, “female characters remained dramatically under-represented as protagonists, major characters and speaking (major and minor) characters in the top grossing films of 2013.”

Only 15 percent of protagonists, 29 percent of major characters, and 30 percent of all characters across 7,000 roles in 300 films were played by women. According to the Celluloid Ceiling Report conducted in 2012, just 18 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors working on that year's top 250 domestic grossing films were women.

For WiFTI-Pittsburgh’s president Faith Dickinson, who started WiFTI-Pittsburgh in 2005 after returning home from Los Angeles, where she was  pursuing an acting career, the city’s improving profile as a haven for major film productions has made the resources at WiFTI as important as ever.

“Especially over the past two or three years, we have seen a need in women coming out of colleges and universities in the region who are interested in pursuing film and television to have help for that next step,” says Dickenson. “We provide that help through education like classes and workshops, mentorship, as well as providing them with resources to find producers and collaborators.”

Dickinson, who spearheaded the application that awarded Pittsburgh the chance to host the 2014 WiFTI Summit, emphasized the importance of the event’s panel guests, such as Tarquino and Hardwicke, who provide women with extremely important role models blazing a trail with their success in film and television.

“There’s such a stigma about women being in the role of the director. It’s very difficult to get into that position, and especially to get to Catherine’s (Hardwicke) postion, directing a franchise film like Twilight,” says Dickinson. “She’s definitely someone, like Catherine Bigelow as well, who has gotten to that level and can share her experience, talk to women about what they need to do to get to that point and what’s involved. It’s really invaluable.”

Online registration for the WiFTI Summit ends at midnight, on Wednesday May 14th, but in-person registration will be open at noon on Thursday, May 15 on the 2nd floor rotunda of the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh. For more information, including online registration, event schedules, and directions for the Women in Film and Television 2014 International summit, visit the event website. (1000 Penn Avenue, Downtown, Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh)
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