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Creative Gender Equality

Free the Work launches discovery platform to connect underrepresented creators


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

October 21, 2019 | 7 min read

Director Alma Har'el, founder of Free the Bid, has launched Free the Work, a curated talent discovery platform that connects underrepresented creators to those who hire in film, TV, advertising and media.

Free the Work

Free the Work launches to connect underrepresented creators

Free the Bid was founded in 2016 by Har'el to challenge the advertising industry to hire more female directors. Through the initiative, brands and agencies can pledge to include at least one woman director in consideration for every triple bid commercial job.

Its website also hosts a global database of women directors.

Bolstered by the support and success for Free the Bid, Free the Work expands the mission as a talent discovery platform powered by machine learning to promote intelligent, personalized discovery, in hopes of fighting discrimination within industry hiring practices.

The Free the Work site features profiles for directors, editors, cinematographers, colorists, composers and more, in film, TV, advertising and media. The site is introduced by a video from Wieden+Kennedy and directed by Amber Grace Johnson.

In it, we see the back of a young pianist, which the voiceover says is Mozart. When it shows the child’s face, it’s of a girl, and the voiceover switches to a woman, who states that Mozart had a sister, Maria, who was equally gifted, but never got a chance to shine as bright.

The video then asks the question, “Who else have we missed out on? Why do we still ignore talent 200 years later?” as it shows other women pianists passionately playing. The final musician has her piano removed as the voice over states, “It’s time to open our eyes.”

On the site, actors and industry leaders, including award-winners Lena Waithe, Tracee Ellis Ross, Justin Simien and Jill Soloway provide curated playlists of global talent that can be shared everywhere. It also allows film studios, TV networks and brands to track their diversity efforts with quantifiable results thanks to a customized dashboard.

The brand identity and platform was designed and built in collaboration with digital agency Heat Waves, led by a team of women programmers, graphic designers and marketers.

Har'el told Marie Claire: "Free the Work is bringing the same urgency and user experience to the process of talent discovery that we obsess over when we look for a favorite new song on Spotify or tonight's dinner on Yelp.

"We are about to unearth a new dawn of creativity. There are hundreds of capable brilliant voices waiting to be heard."

Amazon Studios, Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, Ford and Facebook have joined forces with Free the Work as founding partners, and Verizon has signed on as the inaugural guardian partner. The platform is launching with the support of allies, including the Sundance Institute, ReFrame/Women in Film, the Ad Council and the ANA's #SeeHer initiative.

The database will be free to access but will include expanded features such as personal accounts, shareable talent playlists and tracking via paid membership. It will also offer educational tools, facilitate mentorship for emerging creators, and allow members to utilize social networking capabilities.

Free the Work has its own Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social channels to promote the platform.

To date, Free the Bid has worked with an estimated 160-plus ad agencies and more than 180 brands globally. Together they are utilizing Free the Bid in more than 20 countries to increase the number of women directors in the global advertising industry.

Free the Work by Wieden+Kennedy

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