After she gave Stylist her fantastic step-by-step guide to writing a script, we asked Jane Goldman for her views on women in the film industry...
Not to state the obvious, but you’re a woman in the film industry. It’s a topic that gets discussed a lot; what’s your stance on it?
It’s hard to say. In my experience there have been many times where I have found myself to be the only woman in the meeting; pretty often actually. But I don’t think women are being shut out.
I’ve never seen any evidence of that. Certainly, in American studios most of the executives are women – it’s great. I really don’t think women are discriminated against. I’ve not met any other women where they have had that experience.
But what about directors? Compared to men in the industry, there don’t seem to be many getting the green light for their projects.
I think in terms of female directors, perhaps - and I hate to generalise - but I think the subjects chosen by them are often very different to that of male directors. The subjects that are more typically male are the ones that make it easier to break into the film industry. For instance, it’s easier to break into the film industry with a hugely successful horror film or action film than it is to break in with a thoughtful piece about bereavement. That sounds hideously sexist, but I do think that there are very few female directors starting out thinking, ‘I’m going to make Paranormal Activity or Layer Cake’. I’m sure there are some women who are, but not many.
It seems strange because more women go to the cinema than men. We are the ones going to see the horror movies or the action films so why aren’t we making them?
Exactly. I think horror is actually more popular with women than with men. That is the thing I don’t understand; I’m surprised that there aren’t more women writing in those genres.
Perhaps we spend too much time debating these issues when we could be writing…
I completely agree. I’ve never found a woman who has an experience of being discriminated again in the film industry. People observe stuff like there is only one female director who had won an Oscar. But I don’t think that there is one female director who has been passed over for an Oscar nomination because they were a woman. No one has been short changed because of gender. When Kathryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker [in 2009], it was so patronising to even make an issue of gender. It would be like saying this is the ‘year of gay people’ if a gay director won.
What about actresses? Are they treated differently?
Yes, having said all that you do occasionally find low-level sexism, as you do in any industry. There are times I have witnessed the way that actresses are treated and it isn’t right. I’ve seen a great amount of embarrassment from other women in the room when you hear the awful way in which people talk about them. That’s the only time that I’ve ever felt my gender is an issue.
In what way?
I think there are certain standards that actresses are held to [in the way that they look]. It is very weird. But I don’t think for a minute that women should be discouraged. I’ve never heard of anyone having a door slammed in their face because they are female. I just don’t think that happens.
The Woman in Black is out 10 February