By Victoria Merlino
The first television series to come out of New York City’s inaugural #GreenlightHer scriptwriting competition will premiere on May 10, marking a milestone in the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment’s (MOME) five-part initiative to tackle the limited representation of women in TV and film, both in front of and behind the camera.
“Half Life,” a fictional four-part TV series, follows a New York City location scout as she tries to balance raising her kids with pursuing her dream of screenwriting.
Patty Carey, the “Half Life” showrunner and the winner of the competition, is herself a New York City location scout whose credits include 20th Century Fox's “The Greatest Showman” and Ron Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind.”
"There has never been a better time to be a television writer than now, and there is no better place than New York City to find inspiration and comedy," Carey said. “My primary writing tool is to take my personal experience and build a universal story.”
“As a working mom, I'm living the dream and the struggle of being true to myself and to my family, and this is what ‘Half Life’ is really about,” she continued. “Patty's journey in ‘Half Life’ is to get both her screenplay and the beds made. It's always two steps forward, two hundred steps back. I call it an ‘everymom’ story.”
“Half Life” was chosen from over 300 submissions by MOME and Brooklyn College's Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. The production won a public vote to qualify as a finalist, which enabled it to be picked up for a full series.
The #GreenlightHer contest is only one facet of the ambitious 2016 MOME plan to support women in TV and film. Another intiative, a $5 million grant fund called the Women's Film, TV and Theatre Fund, will announce its first 63 grant recipients this past March.
These initiatives come at a time when women comprised only 20 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films, according to a study by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. This number is still up from 2017 and 2016, where the percentage was 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
"We are committed to leveling the playing field throughout the entertainment industries and enabling a greater diversity of voices to be heard. As more projects by women reach fruition, more women will have the opportunity to take on leadership roles in the film and television industries,” said Media and Entertainment Acting Commissioner Anne del Castillo in a statement.
“Half Life” will air on the channel NYC Life, and can be streamed at nyc.gov/media.