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21st Century Fox Launches Mentoring Program for Female Directors

21st Century Fox will try to bolster the presence of women behind the camera through a new mentoring program.

The media giant and Fox Audience Strategy launches the Fox Global Directors Initiative this week, which it says will help add a female perspective and diverse voices across film, broadcast, cable and digital programming.

“To connect with viewers today, we need stories that represent the amazing range of experiences and voices in the real world. Along with writers, the vision of directors is key as they obviously bring those stories to life through their own lens,” said Joe Earley, Fox Broadcasting Co. chief operating officer.

Despite a few high-profile exceptions such as “Zero Dark Thirty’s” Kathryn Bigelow, “Girls'” Lena Dunham and “Top of the Lake’s” Jane Campion, female auteurs are few and far between. Women comprised 6% of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2013, a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2012, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. The picture is slightly brighter on television, cable and Netflix, where women comprise 23 percent of creators, the center reports.

Twenty participants will be selected to join a five-week directors lab. At the end of the lab, five finalists will be selected to receive additional instruction lasting roughly 10 months, culminating in production support and funding for a Fox-branded short. The program is spearheaded by Nicole Bernard, exec VP of Fox Audience Strategy, a unit that spans the studio’s film and TV divisions.

“The cross-divisional enthusiasm to launch this initiative speak to our commitment to drive industry change and we hope that stellar creative arts organizations across the globe will be equally excited to join us,” Bernard said.

The helmers initiative will enlist creative talent across its entertainment holdings as instructors — a group that includes Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX, Fox Broadcasting Company and Twentieth Century Fox Film. Fox has a similar program in place for developing writing talent. For more information, see Fox Audience Strategy.

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