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Help at hand for women creatives, Aesthetica Festival audience told

By Ava Farrelly

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is taking place in York this week for the seventh consecutive year. The festival is being celebrated in 18 different venues across York, including the York St John university campus. A variety of masterclasses and talks on the industry are now underway, while a huge range of short films are being shown in various locations around the city.

Nicola Lees, is producer of the Women in Film and Television Mentoring Scheme, which focuses on women with previous industry experience who are trying to get their careers back on track. Lees delivered a talk on the York St John campus, addressing the issues that women in the industry face during what she referred to as their “mid-career crisis”.

The mentoring scheme helps women to move forward in their careers in the face of challenges and transitions in their lives. This includes women who have returned from maternity leave and those who want to move on to a new role in the industry.

“There was some research done by Creative Skillsets about ten years ago which said that a lot of women were coming into the industry but by the age of 35 a lot of them had disappeared,” said Lees. “The scheme was set up to try and somehow stem the flow of women out of the industry,” she added.

While the scheme started out relatively small, it has since grown significantly and has started taking on 20 women a year. Lees has extended her work beyond just mentoring by gathering a group of experienced women with a diverse range of expertise including camera operators, directors and editors, and allowing them to host their own seminars based on their individual professional areas.

“The scheme has grown much beyond what it was, it was just mentoring so they’d come on the scheme and get six hours of mentoring over six months. But I decided very quickly during the first set of interviews that some of the women were very experienced, so it would have been a bit mad not to use that experience,” she added.