A panel of female directors, brought together to discuss the lack of production opportunities for women in Hollywood, have highlighted just how rare these roles are - but not how you probably think.
We see it in industry statistics and the disappointingly low number of awards nominations; the fact is, there are not enough opportunities for women behind the camera in Hollywood.
From this year’s Golden Globes entirely male best director category, to the news that less than 4% of major studio films being released this year are directed by women (the lowest percentage of female-helmed movies in at least half a decade), it’s clear that something needs to change to create a future generation of female filmmakers.
In an attempt to contribute towards this change, Variety recently brought together some of the best in the business to discuss what can be done to encourage girls and young women into these career paths, and how the industry can better support them.
The panel boasted some of the brightest minds behind many of our favourite shows, including Pamela Adlon (Better Things), Jodie Foster (Black Mirror), Linka Glatter (Homeland), Mary Harron (Alias Grace), Helen Hunt (Feud), Melina Matsoukas (Insecure) and Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish).
But while these intelligent and experienced women had many a gem of wisdom to share for future filmmakers, there was one huge, overwhelmingly noticeable elephant in the room that Adlon couldn’t help but point out.
While sitting with her six fellow panelists, Adlon referenced that the discussion they were having was being filmed…and in doing so, highlighted a pretty major clanger.
“Look around this room,” Adlon started. “Every single camera except one is manned by a guy. Sorry, no offense, but I’m just saying!”
Adlon continued to explain that the only way to change this is to consciously give stereotypically male roles a chance to be done by a woman, saying: “In season three of my show, I said, ‘I need a female key grip. There is no f**king way that this doesn’t exist.’
“There are so many jobs that young women don’t know about. My focus puller, my camera department — I just want people to learn about the jobs that are available. Why is it a guy thing?”
Adlon’s observation prompted Foster to draw on her experiences as a director, and admit that she has fallen into the trap of employing a male team because it seemed like the norm. Foster explained: “As a director it never occurred to me to seek out women crew members. I sought out the guys that I worked with, the guys that I knew that I thought were doing great work.
“I’m almost ashamed of that, until recently where I realized that we actually do have to make an effort. It isn’t just going to happen because you think it’s wrong and then you don’t change anything. You actually have to make an effort to allow women to have those first jobs.”
Both women make the undeniable point that if women are to get more opportunities like this, it has to be a conscious effort from both sides to give them a helping hand.
The panel also discussed the importance of solidarity in the industry, with Matsoukas voicing the need to stop pitting women against each other, saying: “For me, it’s about the conversation, and when a door opens for you, opening it for somebody else. Having these kinds of connections and networks, where we can support each other, so that we don’t feel like we’re in competition with each other — because I think we all have very specific and singular voices that are all so important — and that we support each other with those voices.”
It’s undoubtedly a difficult time for women in film (in front of and behind the camera) but with honest conversations like this, and a no nonsense approach like Adlon’s, we’re finally having the conversations that can insight change.