Everyone was expecting Uber to be the next unexpected Silicon Valley start-up to move into the original content game, but it turns out that female-focused dating app Bumble has swiped right first.
The company, which runs the eponymous dating app that only permits women to start a chat with their male matches, is launching a female film fund, offering five filmmakers £20,000 (US$27,000) to make a short film.
It has established Bumble Presents… The Female Film Force and has partnered with stars including Guardians of the Galaxy and Elementary star Ophelia Lovibond and Black Mirror star Georgina Campbell, who is currently starring in Syfy’s DC Comics series Krypton.
It is looking to work with writers, directors and producers on the projects, which must be created by all female creative teams. The move is obviously a positive step in the male-dominated business, but there is a hook for its range of apps, the company has suggested that anyone applying who doesn’t feel that they have the required networks in place can use its Bumble Bizz app to help. “If you are a director with an idea, but without a writer, find one on Bumble Bizz. If you’re a producer looking to build your network with female creatives, look to Bumble Bizz. On your profile, be clear on exactly what you’re looking for and swipe right on an opportunity to build your crew from scratch,” it noted.
In addition to Lovibond and Campbell, the panel to decide the grants includes radio presenter Edith Bowman, who is chair, Kate Kinninmont, Chief Executive, Women in Film & TV, Fortitude star Nicholas Pinnock, Helen Bownass, Entertainment Editor, Stylist Magazine, Emily Phillips, Features Editor, Grazia Magazine and Bumble’s own VP International Marketing & Communications Louise Troen.
Ophelia Lovibond said, “When women take up less space on screen, they take up less space in life. The failure to show female faces in meaningful roles on our screens perpetuates a society in which positions of power are disproportionately occupied by men. Figures show that women filmmakers tend to depict more gender balanced stories and so more women filmmakers could help redress the power imbalance and shift how women are viewed. The Female Film Force is an excellent opportunity to cultivate the much-needed female voices to help empower women and tell the rich stories currently languishing in the shade of a male-dominated industry.”
Campbell added, “The stats unfortunately speak for themselves. Anything that actively affects change by addressing the gender imbalance is a great start. Short films are a wonderful way to get your foot in the door of this industry. The most excitingly ambitious and creative sets I have been on are short film sets. I strongly encourage anyone to apply who has a story to tell… We want to see it.”
Founder and CEO of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe said that she hoped that the company could “shift the dial” in terms of gender equality. “The imbalance we saw over this year’s awards season at the Oscars, Golden Globes and the BAFTAs was truly shocking. Women are incredible storytellers, and creators, and we want to see more of their stories told. That’s why we’re launching The Female Film Force to empower and support five female filmmakers in the UK to make an actual change in this industry. We know how many talented women there are out there – and we want to see them represented accurately. There is no reason why one of these films shouldn’t be nominated or win an award – and that’s the vision for this project, real opportunity, real stories, real change.”