About the Programme

Esther Krausz, Ursula WolschlagerProPro – The Producers‘ Programme for Women, an Initiative of the Austrian Film Institute to Empower Women Film Producers had its first session in November 2015. Due to the great success amongst participants and a high resonance in the film industry, we’re very happy that the Austrian Film Institute has hosted the second round of ProPro in March 2017. As a great novelty, we were taking the first step in our internationalisation thanks to the cooperation with our partners FOCAL and IDM: Sixteen selected Austrian, Swiss and South Tyrolean women producers joined in to be supported by international high-caliber producers and other experts who have mentored them with hands-on advice for their film projects, coaching for their leadership skills, and encouragement to think big in their career planning and strategies for success.

We have several Oscar, BAFTA, Palmes d’Or and European Film Award Winners, accumulated in the group of mentors, experts, and panel guests we could convince to come to Vienna and empower our participants: Ewa Puszczyńska (Ida, PL), Sylvia Stevens (Faction Films, UK), Gabriela Bacher (What a Man, DE/USA), Kate Leys (script editor, UK), Bongiwe Selane (Happiness is a Four-Letter Word, SA), Els Vandevorst (Brimstone, NL), Katrin Schlösser (Schlafkrankheit, DE), Valerie Fischer (Tulpan, CH), Andrea Willson (Vaterfreuden, SMS für Dich, DE/USA) and film financing expert Linda Beath (Ideal Filmworks, IT/CAN) are among them. Our 2017 leadership coaches were: Sonja Zant, Cornelia Jaksche and Christine Bauer-Jelinek.

Many of our events are open to the public, so more industry protagonists can benefit from the programme. From “Producing on Instinct” to “The Core of Stories” and current co-production issues to the question of how women’s involvement in TV can be increased: The lectures, talks, case studies, and networking events are meant to provide new know-how, create insights, and spark discussions.

We are sure the visitors, and especially the sixteen participants, had a productive week full of enriching input, useful contacts, inspiration and brave new ideas.

The programme is meant to support, empower and inspire!

Ursula Wolschlager and Esther Krausz
(Concept and Programming)


What’s special about ProPro

    1. ProPro is free of charge for the participants. This approach is substantiated by the fact that we see this initiative as a remedy for the industry’s gender imbalance in numbers, funding and budget.


    1. ProPro follows a “women only”- approach for most workshop elements, which creates an atmosphere of deep trust and openness. This is something many women producers miss in the industry, where they often feel they have to disguise themselves in a male-dominated atmosphere of boys’ networks they can’t participate in. The arrangement of a safe and open space amongst other women holds a certain deep relief for many women producers: Fresh topics are addressed and daring ideas can be expressed.


    1. Mentors, as well as many experts of the programme,are being hand-picked for the individual needs of the participants and their projects. This way, every participant gets a highly personalized feedback from an expert for her project (in terms of genre or other referential points) that increases the chances of a successful career and lucrative projects considerably.
      We have a pool of diverse mentors and experts and we pair each mentor up with a selected participants and their project. In the application form we ask them about their needs, their focal point in filmmaking and if they have preferences regarding what mentor they are being paired up with.


    1. Leadership coaching is an integral part of the programme, which we informally call the “Don’t be too soft skills”. Many women are being told or even say about themselves, that most of all, they lack self confidence, negotiation skills and the maintenance of an adequate status in their national industry.
      Therefore, with the support of experienced coaches, the participants work on their positioning, personal mission statement, leadership and communication skills, as well as their negotiation techniques. Apart from being highly advantageous for the definition of the participant’s individual business brands, this also has a fantastic effect on the group building process and allows to develop a connection between the members of the group, funded by deep trust and bonds, leading to reliable and sustainable professional partnerships.


  1. A special focus of ProPro is on projects for young audiences. In fact two alumni projects with that same focus just had huge successes:
    Dani Purer, a participant from 2015 with her project PARTY HARD DIE YOUNG, a young audience, horror genre film, produced in Austria, was released in March 2018 and reached more than 40.000 visitors.
    Katja Dor-Helmer, a former participant of the first workshop in 2015, has been awarded with the VAM-Prize for “Innovative Production Services” at Diagonale 2018 for the co-production of the young-audience film HELP, I SHRUNK MY PARENTS by Tim Trageser. The film was released in January 2018 and has more than 640.000 visitors in Germany and Austria.


Objectives of ProPro

Strengthen competitiveness of the participating producers

  • via mentoring from highly successful seasoned producers and amongst the group of peers
  • by encouraging women producers to think big and outside the box
  • support in development, especially regarding new formats and innovative ways of storytelling
  • expansion of production and company management skills
  • Utilization of new markets
  • Exploration of alternative models of financing

Contributing to a more gender-balanced and industry with diverse and innovative narratives

  • by encouraging gender awareness in women producers so that they sharpen their focus on the production of formats by women writers and directors
  • the creation of content with a gender-aware angle for young audiences
  • a focus on new formats
  • a focus on innovative storytelling

Building Sustainable Business structures

  • by offering support to deepen and diversify strategic planning
  • by encouraging sustainable networks and transnational cooperations
  • by offering advice about innovative business models
  • by providing valuable reliable contacts with mentors, experts and peers all over Europe


Programme information for the workshop in 2019

ProPro –The Producers’ Programme for Women, an Initiative of the Austrian Film Institute to Empower Women Film Producers will take place in 2019 for the 3rd time. The workshop will support women producers from all over Europe: strengthening their film projects (fiction, doc or series), developing their professional careers, improving their company strategies, finding them sustainable national and transnational production partnerships.

Participating producers will be assigned to highly acclaimed international women producers and experts, who will mentor them in group sessions, individual meetings and two follow-up meetings. They will receive hands-on advice for their film projects and careers, as well as consultation for particular obstacles in their professional lives. The exceptional characteristic of the programme is that these mentors, as well as many experts of the programme, will be hand-picked for the individual needs of the respective participants and their projects.

Lectures, work groups and individual sessions will deal with current needs and trends in the industry, such as digital distribution, crossmedia approach of various formats, new ways of storytelling and alternative ways of financing.

A special focus of ProPro is the reach of young audiences.

Participants will have numerous networking and pitching opportunities with experts, fellow producers and decision makers.

With the support of experienced business coaches, the participants will work on their personal mission statement, leadership, communication skills and negotiation-techniques.

A series of lectures, provided by Linda Beath (Ideal Filmworks, I/CAN), will handle Company Management Tools, such as Innovative Business Models and Company Strategies, Hiring, Development Policies, Cash Flow Planning a.o.
For producers who run companies with several employees and participate without a project, ProPro offers „Strategic Planning for the Coming Five Years„, a professional management workshop for the screen industries.


Background information

For a few years, the ratio between female and male producers, directors and screenwriters as well as the amounts of funds that are being spent on their projects, have been observed in various European countries. For example: A six-year study carried out by the ‘European women’s audiovisual network’ across France, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK found that “The vast majority of funding resources (namely 84%) go into films that are NOT directed by women”(1). The sad results of these studies show, that without quotas or affirmative action, the gap between funding for female and male filmmakers will remain unproportional.

In countries where the representation of women is regulated by a quota, all results show, that the quality and marketability of projects are increasing: In Sweden, e.g., that reached an equal gender balance in 2017, the figures went up in all aspects: Swedish films had more festival entries, awards and national as well as international sales than ever. Furthermore a study by the ‘Centre for the Study of Women in Television & Film’ found that “When women and men filmmakers have similar budgets for their films, the resulting box office grosses are also similar”(2).

To remedy the existing imbalance, ProPro attempts to strengthen women producers from all over Europe in various fields and support them in their careers, company strategies and regarding the quality and marketability of their film projects.

(1) EWA’s pan-European research study:
„Where are the women directors in European films? Gender equality report on female directors (2006-2013) with best practice and policy recommendations“
(2) “Women @ the Box Office: A Study of the Top 100 Worldwide Grossing Films” by Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D.