Festival News 2008 - Tampereen 38. elokuvajuhlien verkkolehti

Female producers into spotlight!

Henna Tuominen
Tatu Henttonen, translation

It is predicted that women will dominate the leadership positions within companies in the future. According to public debate, female managers even outshine their male counterparts, and their number is getting larger.

In the film industry, it is the producers who particularly need the skills of leadership and taking responsibility. There are many eminent women among them. Male producers, however, seem to get more publicity than their female colleagues.

Anna Heiskanen, Lecturer of Producing at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, agrees that the majority of the well-known film producers are still men.

– At the moment, men own the large production companies, but films with both male and female points of view would be needed.

– There are many female producers, of course, but perhaps men are more eager to put themselves in the public eye, Heiskanen says.

Are men bolder?

Satu Elo
, Information Officer of the Finnish Film Foundation, sharply disagrees with the views that female producers would be invisible in Finland.

– We have rather few professional producers overall. Nevertheless, there are several reputable women among them, such as Kristiina Pervilä and Hanna Hemilä.

Kerstin Degerman, Manager of Media Desk Finland, lists boldness and downright audacity as the assets of male producers. These qualities are of particular benefit in the business. Yet she thinks that women are excellent producers: systematic, precise and conscientious.

– Perhaps the profession of producer is associated easily with men just because men have traditionally been the persons in charge, Degerman muses.

Raija Nurmio, Manager of the Central Organisation of Finnish Film Producers, mentions several well-known female producers: Liisa Penttilä, Niina Koljonen, Outi Rousu and Leila Lyytikäinen.

The media has not given them much attention in spite of opportunities, Nurmio says.

– A few years ago I tipped the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper about a story on female producers but the paper was not interested. Women’s magazines probably give them at least some visibility.

Raija Nurmio thinks that producers are not in a very prominent position – not even men.

– The average citizen would know Markus Selin at most, Nurmio believes.

Producer - an entrepreneur and a personality

According to producer Liisa Penttilä, the media coverage of male producers is mostly due to feature films, which attract media attention.

– Finnish feature films are mostly produced by men. TV and documentary productions, on the other hand, often engage a lot of women.

– Women also have their own challenges associated with having to combine family and the time-consuming and risky entrepreneurship, Penttilä says.

Penttilä still thinks of her gender as an asset in her job. Being a woman brings with it social sesibility and cooperation skills, which come in handy in the business.

– Every producer is naturally an individual: I don’t think people want to work with me just because I am a woman, Liisa Penttilä says.

The public has its influence as well on what kinds of films are chosen for production.

– There is a very faithful female audience in Finland, which is worth taking into account, Penttilä points out.

– In the end, what matters the most is the story. I think every producer primarily wants to produce good films that find their audience, Penttilä emphasises.

Updated 14 March 2008 16:03