Women directors in indie film are at a record high, so why is the rest of the industry lagging behind?
Independent films produced, directed and written by women are on the rise, according to a new study. This is an important insight, as it could encourage the industry as a whole to follow suit.
Stats showing gender disparity stats across the industry prove how vital this is. A recent report found that there are 22 male directors for every female director. It also reported that in the last 11 years, only 4% of 1,100 films surveyed were directed by a woman. And it showed that female directors have shorter careers than their male counterparts.
But zoom in on independent films and there’s a glimmer of hope, as a new report shows that more women than ever before are leading indie movies.
We need only look to two very recent examples to confirm the importance of this:
Stylist recently ranked Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, as one of the most important teen movies of all time. Following two girls about to graduate high school, it refreshingly explores sexuality through an LGBT+ perspective with some serious LOL moments.
We also recently described Late Night, which is directed by Nisha Ginatra and stars Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, as the “perfect romantic comedy for ambitious women”. The film addresses the lack of female TV writers and ageism within the industry, through a funny and sharp script.
More highly-anticipated films directed by women this year include Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels. Specifically focusing on indie releases, this year’s Sundance Film Festival – where 45% of the films included were directed by women - featured Hannah Pearl Utt’s Before You Know It and Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir.
Yes, it’s been a good year for women in film, but there’s still work to be done.
The gender disparity-focused study examined 10,700 credits on more than 970 indie films between 2018 and 2019, compared to the 80,000 credits on almost 8,000 indie films over a decade from 2008 to 2019.
Let’s start with the good news.
The report, conducted by Martha M. Lauzen at The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, found that there was a record number of female directors over the last year (33%, up from 29%). It also showed that there were 6% more female writers, 6% more executive producers and 2% more editors. Although the increases aren’t exactly staggering, this is promising news.
“After many years of tracking stubbornly stagnant numbers, this year women achieved healthy gains in a number of key behind-the-scenes roles,” said Lauzen.
However, the bad news is that women are still outnumbered in indie films by two to one. This is despite the report also confirming that female directors often have a powerful ripple effect in addressing disparity.
It specifically showed that on films with at least one female director, 45% of its editors were female, compared to 21% of films directed by men. And on films with at least one female director, women comprised 72% of writers compared to 11% on films directed exclusively by men.
The indie film industry is clearly proving how great female-led films often are, but there’s still some way to go to balance out the numbers. The wider industry also needs to understand the value in this report and it must catch up. Meanwhile, we’re no doubt missing out on some brilliant female films.
Images: Getty and Amazon