Introducing a NewImages panel about parity in the XR field, moderator Oriane Hurard lost no time setting the scene. “I’m a VR producer based in Paris,” Hurard began. “I’m also a feminist. Sorry, not sorry.”
And so launched this year’s “Women in XR” panel, which brought together a group of producers, filmmakers, and executives united by their shared belief in the young medium’s limitless potential and by their joint concerns that a lack of access could keep such potential stifled.
Hurard laid down some harsh statistics early on. “XR is at the crossroads between the film and video-games industries,” she noted. “[Except] in France we have just 23% of our feature films directed by women and only 4% of our games made by a female creative director. So the idea of this panel today is how to build a better environment for creators and audiences.”
For independent producer Gabrielle Floquet, this meant using her position of influence to not perpetuate a flawed industry model. “As women who are active in the industry, we have a role to play in choosing who we work with and the way we work,” Floquet explained.
“We need to try again and again to work with people with whom we feel close, and not to replicate the dominant roles we’ve seen around us… Really working as a team, taking credit, giving credit, and considering this collective value as highly as we should is super important as we try to create another model.”
For filmmaker Ainslee Robson, who won the NewImages jury prize from her piece “Ferenj: A Graphic Memoir in VR,” addressing the issue meant recognizing its intersectional implications. “If we’re talking about women, we should be talking about all women, all over the world, from different races, classes and marginalized communities,” said the U.S.-based director.
“There’s so many barriers to even getting exposure to VR in so many parts of the world, and that needs to be part of this conversation as well,” she added.
Arvore creative director Ana Ribeiro and Limina Immersive CEO Catherine Allen both argued that representation was key.
Describing the “Pixel Ripped” video-game series she created, and the series dynamic female hero Dot, Ribeiro was clear: “Dot’s the hero I wish had existed and always wanted to be. That’s the most important thing. To change the future of industry, we need to give girls a hero and a figure to look towards. I wish I had that when I was a kid.”
Allen struck a similar chord. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” said the Limina Immersive founder. “If we address the audience problem, it will help with the creative problem too. Because obviously the audiences of today are the creators of tomorrow.”
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