Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Some stats on Female Directors

I read a lot about women in Hollywood, at film festivals and in the independent film world and in the last few years as I've worked to make my first feature, I've become much more aware of some of the depressing statistics about women in the field. There is a yearly report put out by The Center for the study of Women in Televison & Film at San Diego State University called The Celluloid Ceiling. Here are some of the facts:

 - In 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2010 and an increase of 1 percentage point from 1998. - Women accounted for 5% of directors, a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2010 and approximately half the percentage of women directors working in 1998.


- 38% of films employed 0 or 1 woman in the roles considered, 23% employed 2 women, 30% employed 3 to 5 women, and 7% employed 6 to 9 women.

One of the common arguments executives make against hiring women filmmakers is that their films won't make money. To that I add this statistic:

 - Examining the top 100 worldwide grossing films of 2007, the study found that when women and men filmmakers have similar budgets for their films, the resulting box office grosses are also similar. In other words, the sex of filmmakers does not determine box office grosses.



As a female director I find these statistics depressing.  As the mother of a girl, I find them distressing.  You may say it doesn't matter whether a man or a woman directs a film, what matters is the quality.  But all films are not created equal.  When women work behind-the-scenes, the number of on-screen women increases.  And more on-screen women means more diversity in the women depicted.  I want my daughter to see herself reflected onscreen, to see roles to aspire to, even to see imperfect women and girls who make mistakes and make fools of themselves.  And I want my son to see women as more than eye-candy. The Geena Davis Institute has done numerous studies on gender disparity in media and what it's teaching our children.


You may ask yourself how you can make a difference.  I'm voting for female filmmakers with my box-office dollars.  The last few films I saw at the theater were female-directed or female-centric.  How to find these films?

Here are some great blogs to help:


Women & Hollywood by Melissa Silverstein (my old standby)
Bitch Flicks - feminist film reviews
Thelma Adams on Reel Women - recently discovered

Go out and find your feminine side!  And let me know if you have any great blogs or sites to add to this list.






2 comments:

wellywood woman said...

Thanks Kim! I didn't know that Thelma's on that site as well as others. Thrilled to see this because I'd never have found it otherwise. Love what she writes but had no idea this was here. *But* disappointed that I just tried to add her to my blog roll and the link defaults to the general Film Critics site instead. Will have to keep reminding myself to go back because her writing on women & film is gold. You might also like to try the new(ish) auteuse blog: http://auteusetheory.blogspot.com

Kim Cummings said...

Thanks, Marian! I'll check it out. I'm discovering more & more every day. And I'm a bit disappointed as well about the rollover to the general filmcritic site. Really only interested in reading Thelma Adams column!