Deeds not words | International Women’s Day 2018

Deeds not words | International Women’s Day 2018

In support of the ‘MeToo’ and ‘TimesUp’ movement, AWUK launched their new ‘Deeds Not Words’ programme on International Women’s Day, with an event dealing with harassment and bullying in the workplace and introducing the new BFI/ BAFTA guidelines.

The workshop was co-produced by Animated Women UK (AWUK) and Animation UK (AUK) and generously hosted by The Mill. The audience of individuals, HR representatives and company owners were joined by Tim Hunter, Director of learning and new talent at BAFTA and employment barristers Caroline Jennings and Naomi Owen from No 5 Barristers Chambers.

After an introduction from Jan Armstrong who facilitated the afternoon, Tim Hunter provided an overview of the new BFI/BAFTA guidelines on harassment and bullying, released on the day of the BAFTA awards.

BFI/BAFTA Guidelines

The BAFTA Awards are a lens on the industry there was much debate at the time as to whether the guidelines go far enough, but Tim clarified that after wide consultation the specific issues tackled in the guidelines were identified as most important. The timing was also significant to show BAFTA’s position at the time of the awards and gain maximum coverage.

He acknowledged that there many areas not covered, for example the freelance perpetrator who could easily ‘slip under the radar’ going from one production to another.  However, these guidelines provide an industry framework and accountability to build upon. There has been a code of conduct for the VFX industry for about 4 years so it’s good to see the BFI and BAFTA following suit. Currently there is not an official animation industry wide code, but many companies have their own.

A show of hands from the attendees demonstrated that a significant majority had suffered some form of harassment or bullying in the workplace including our barristers.  Unfortunately, this is in line with our own MeToo survey results.

*AWUK MeToo Survey results as of 30.03.18

If you haven’t yet shared your experience, please fill in our quick anonymous survey here.

What constitutes harassment?

Barristers Caroline and Naomi presented the legal definitions of harassment as well as a couple of cases that have made it to court. They illustrated the minefield of ambiguity between wanted and unwanted behavior, flirting or pestering, bullying or just meeting that deadline.

The EU Equal Treatment Directive

Harassment law stems from an EU Equal Treatment Directive

*Sexual Harassment. How are women Protected? Handout – Naomi Owen  No. 5 Chambers

The Equality Act 2010

This is enshrined in UK law in the Equality Act 2010.

*Sexual Harassment. How are women Protected? Handout – Naomi Owen  No. 5 Chambers


Banter is also covered.

*Sexual Harassment. How are women Protected? Handout – Naomi Owen  No. 5 Chambers

Our barristers explained how the law is applied and the complex topic of accountability or individuals and employers/third parties.

Finally Naomi concluded by mentioning the concept of collective responsibility.  Both employers and employees in the workplace should endeavour to create an environment in which people are more aware of what constitutes inappropriate behaviour and what to do if it happens.  We need to dispel the “If I report it I will never work again!” perception.

Want to know more?

If there is enough interest from our members we will organise another event covering this issue.  If you’d like to attend an event like this please let us know in the comments section.

‘The legal perspective and case studies were excellent’

‘Great legal presentation which handled a very dry and awkward subject with sensitivity and delivered information I was not aware.”

‘The conversations around this topic I found the most stimulating and informative.’

Posted by Lucy Cooper in Campaigns, Events, 1 comment

The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Writing Animation Workshop

In October, Animated Women UK teamed up with WFTV to bring members a unique evening dedicated to writing for animation.

The event was proposed, pulled together and moderated by Rachel Murrell, animation writer (Little Princess, Ask Lara, Percy’s Tiger Tales) and AWUK and WFTV member.

The evening kicked off with an expert panel moderated by Rachel, comprising; Writer/ designer/ creator: An Vrombaut (64 Zoo Lane, Bing, Florrie’s Dragon); Web writer/ producer/ crowdfunder: Emma Burch (Simon’s Cat, Being Bradford Dillman, Mr Plastimime) and Producer/ distributor: Helen Stroud (The Secret Show, Yoko! Jakamoto! Toto!, Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That)

Discussion focused on how the writing process works, how it’s changing and the ups and downs of writing. This flowed into the business side of working with writers, the international marketplace and issues for women writers.

Highlights included:

Moving the story forward…

You need to know what you need to keep and what you need to filter out… if a broadcaster has said something about your work you need to sit up and take a little notice
Helen Stroud

Crowdfunding for animation…

Do things in stages and create blogs and gauge interest… make books, get followers
Emma Burch

The 7-12’s market…

Research research research! Watch these episodes “Adventure Time”, “Rick and Morty” etc. A lot of boys get the jobs because people assume Women aren’t funny
Rachel Murrell

Writing for a global audience…

I completely banned puns. Keep international descriptions very simple otherwise it could get misinterpreted
An Vrombaut

Moya O’Shea a Writer for TV, Radio, Theatre, Film and Animation kindly gathered suggestions from a number experienced animation writers and combined them with her own to create the “Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Animation”. A few of our favourites were:

  • DO write good, strong central parts for any female characters. If we’re not going to do this, who is?
  • DO watch as much pre-school animation as you can so you know about the area you are working in - and the pesky competition you’re up against!
  • DON’T be afraid to make your own introduction. If you really like a show reach out to the Producer and let them know.
  • DON’T take notes personally - whoever is giving them has a bigger picture of what hasn’t been done and would work best in the context of a show (and is probably being paid more).

You can download a PDF of Moya’s Do’s and Don’ts here with this is extremely valuable advice for any budding writer.

Moya was also among a mix of talented, expert and professional female writers that offered to speak to our attendees in a unique speed dating session. Our panel was joined by Moya, Jacqueline Haigh: Amazing Ray, commercials, Polly Churchill: Teacup Travels, Waybuloo, Chuggington and Emma Boucher: Wussywat the Clumsy Cat, Messy Goes to Okido, My Petsaurus. The room was buzzing.

To round up the night, we asked the attendees for their comments on their experience of the workshop:

“I love having industry experts with real experience who are willing to share their knowledge. I’ve learned so much!”

“Everything was covered, but I particularly enjoyed the networking!”

“Fantastic to see AWUK and WFTV come together.”

At Animated Women UK, we always welcome ideas for events and workshops! If you are reading this and aren’t yet a member then check out our membership page to read more about benefits like these specialist workshops!

If you missed out and would like us to run a similar event again, please let us know so that we can gauge demand.

Posted by Peri Friend in Events, 1 comment

Promoting Women in Visual Arts at FMX

There’s something special about FMX.  Everyone who goes there loves it and it’s not just because of beer and currywurst.

This year 307 speakers and 4000 attendees (67.5% professionals and 32.5% students) travelled to FMX in Stuttgart from 61 countries to share their work and discuss new technologies and issues affecting the industry. If you’ve never been, take a look at this year’s impressive programme and mark your diary for 2018!

FMX attendees are currently disproportionately male, however they hosted their third consecutive Women in Visual Arts Panel on Friday 5th May and Animated Women UK were part of it.

AWUK Founder and Animation Chair Lindsay Watson joined Gerfried Stocker (Artistic Director, Ars Electronica), Clemence Bragard, (Event & Project Manager, Les Femmes s’Animent) on a panel chaired by Dr. Diana Arellano (Research & Development, Animations Institute) to discuss the disproportionate representation of women in the industry and some of the challenges associated with redressing the balance. 


All the panelists shared insight around the issues facing women and the policies they’ve been trying out locally. Ars Electroncia reported a positive impact on the number of applications they receive from women thanks to a positive discrimination policy for specific programmes. In order to support women on their return from having families, they have also implemented non-gender specific family leave and are seeing an increased number of men take time off to care for their children as a result.

Lindsay shared some highlights from the ground breaking research Animated Women UK completed two years ago that clearly shows the underrepresentation of women in these industries as well as a significant gender pay gap. Women only make up 30% of the VFX and Animation industry today, but there are some encouraging signs.  The industry as a whole is growing, aided by the animation tax credit, and the number of women in the industry has almost doubled between 2012 and 2015 to 5,325.

You can view Lindsay’s full presentation here.

Many issues surfaced during the Q&A including:

  • What do you do if you are being sexually harassed in the workplace if you think it might cost you your job?
  • What do you say to someone outside of the workplace (i.e. at a conference) if they are speaking to you in a sexist way?

The panel recognised that many women, particularly those in the public eye, face hostility of a sexual nature online and in social media comments; Mary Beard provides some excellent examples of how to comment back in her lecture “The Public Voice of Women”.

Fortunately Animated Women UK has never been the target of sexist remarks through our social networks. If it were we would take it seriously and report it as a cyber crime to the British authorities.

The group also discussed that while there may not be a ‘script’ to deal with sexism it was about finding an approach that worked for you. What do you think? If you have any ideas post below for further discussion.   

After the talk, a number of people stayed to chat; Jean-Michel Blottiere, Executive Director of FMX thanked us all for appearing on the panel and agreed to look into the female to male ratio in terms of festival attendance next year.  

Posted by Peri Friend in Events, News, 0 comments
AWUK go to Aardman

AWUK go to Aardman

Back on the 20th January 2017, we were thrilled to have our launch for Animated Women UK South-West at the renowned Aardman Animations in Bristol!

The aim was to celebrate the magnificent work done by women and companies in this region and where better to host it than where much of the magic of UK animation started!? Aardman is the home of a unique brand of independent film; best known for “Wallace and Gromit”, “Chicken Run”, “Pirates!” and their iconic trademark character and show “Morph”. We were very lucky to meet Morph on the day and he’s just as cheeky as ever!

It was fantastic to be joined by such a vibrant industry panel that included a few key representatives from the South-West:

Charlotte Wadsworth, Producer, Arthurcox

Kieran Argo, Programmer and Project Manager

Sally Arthur, Freelance Director and Industry Liaison UWE

Vicky Brophy, Owner, Wonky Films

Erica Darby, Owner and Producer, Spider Eye

Chaired by Animation Consultant and Producer Helen Brunsdon the goal was a discussion of the upsides and downsides of working in the South West for individuals and companies,  the current climate and how to provide encouragement to people considering working in animation. Helen also presented an exciting update about Animation UK - now part of the newly formed UK Screen Alliance providing a collective voice for the Animation & Visualisation sector. Read more here!

Our first-ever Achieve Programme summary

The day’s presentations included a summary of the success of our first ever Achieve Programme by Helen North (Programme Producer and founding board member of AWUK). Sponsored by Creative Skillset, Disney, Turner, The Mill and Escape Studios, it was really inspiring to hear the stories of those who participated and the positive feedback we received. It goes to show there is a real need for continued mentorship and support to senior, mid-level and junior women in the animation and vfx industries!

Presentation on our October 2016 BFX symposium ‘Being yourself – Surveying the experiences of women developing their career in the animation and vfx industries’

To round-up the day, Amy Backwell (Social Media Lead and event co-producer) presented some interesting outcomes from this panel event and ideas on how to fuse Industry with Academia and training workshops. This event was based on some of the original AWUK research conducted by Helen North and Shiona Llewellyn. 8 key threads were identified here and were generalised into two categories: ‘how are women represented on the screen?’ and ‘how are women represented behind the screen?’

One of the main talking points was that currently, there is a lack of strong female role models. The majority of the audience felt that we need to go into primary schools and not just secondary schools and universities to make a positive impact early and make young people aware of the vast creative opportunities and careers that are available to them. A Lighting TD recounted how she had visited a school where nobody knew what that was, let alone that it was something that women could do. Talks like this help challenge stereotypes and open the eyes of future generations.

We also questioned our  industry guests about how they think we should move the South West activity forward. Here are just a few of their responses!

Q: What resources do you think are needed in Bristol & South West for women working in the animation and VFX community?

A: Retraining post children/ career break”, “training around confidence building”,Regular meeting venue for courses & seminars”, “masterclasses, short daily courses focusing on animation”, “ Mentors for mid-level” and “networking with people with funding to create more jobs for women!”

Q: Any other suggestions?

A: It's great to know there's so much research going on - also to hear thoughts of experienced and entry-level women”, “flexible working” and “ research & case studies on how women have balanced work & motherhood”.

To wind down from the day, Bertha’s Pizza in Bristol hosted Animated Women UK’s networking drinks.  It’s a wonderful venue and new family business just down from Gas Ferry Road (it has our thumbs up!)

Animated Women UK would like to thank all of the volunteers and participants who made this such a great event. We really appreciate the feedback provided to help us push this research further. We will be producing a full article on the Bristol and Bournemouth events and the research findings, which will be published on our blog page.

We look forward to catching up with everyone in the near future to see what you took away and implemented in your workplaces and local areas. Our aim is to listen to the ideas of the women in industry and academia, to increase resources, create events, discussion groups and training. We need volunteers, producers, board members and mentors to facilitate the growth and development of Animated Women UK on a national level!

We have people who would like to get together in Bristol.  If you would like to join them, please let us know by emailing!

A big thank you to the team at Aardman Animations and to Bertha’s pizza for supporting us!

Blog by Amy Backwell

Posted by Peri Friend in Events, South West, 0 comments