Female directors in Hollywood: Is there a lack of representation?


Women have often been underrepresented in the film industry. While we’ve seen an increase in the past decade in female directors, producers, lead roles, etc., it has been an uphill climb since day one.

Earlier this year, The Wrap did a study noting that 22 consecutive films from Fox (not including Fox Searchlight) were directed by men. Similarly, 25 consecutive films from Paramount were all helmed by males. This led us to ask — where are all the female directors?

It’s important to note that they’re out there, and very passionate about telling their stories.

2017 offered plenty examples of women directing films. This year we saw Julia Ducournau’s Raw (which is on Netflix right now), a French horror film about cannibalism and finding oneself. Their Finest, an indie film about making propaganda films during the battle of Dunkirk, came from Lone Scherfig. Zoe Lister-Jones’ Band Aid told of a young couple who fights a lot and decides to deal with their problems by writing music. Mudbound, Novitiate, First They Killed My Father and Professor Marston & the Wonder Women all also featured female directors.

Then there were some films from women behind the camera lens that were picked up by bigger studios and began to get steady attention.

Greta Gerwig is currently in the awards circuit for her work on Lady Bird — a coming-of-age story of what it’s like to grow up in Sacramento. Kathryn Bigelow took on Detroit, depicting the horrifying stories of race riots that went down in the ‘60s. Sofia Coppola remade an old Clint Eastwood film called The Beguiled with a predominately female cast, and, of course, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was a huge success on all accounts.

However, we cannot recognize all these accomplishments without acknowledging the hurdles that women have had to jump over to get to this point. Discrimination in the workplace, especially Hollywood, still exists to this day. We’re now seeing the beginning of the #MeToo campaign, taking monsters like Harvey Weinstein out of the system, but the key word there is beginning.

Today, this issue has been thrown into the limelight again with the announcement of the 75th Annual Golden Globe nominations. While the Golden Globes don’t hold the prestige that the Academy Awards do (in fact, they’re often thought of as a randomly selected running joke to those inside Hollywood), they do attract a fairly large audience. And, continuing a tradition that has existed for all too long, the Golden Globes once again failed to nominate any female directors.

This is especially troubling considering that Lady Bird was nominated for so many other awards — Best Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay, Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actress. But no best director? 

Sure, maybe Lady Bird didn’t meet the Golden Globes requirements for some reason (although we can’t fathom why, since that movie is fan-frickin-tastic). But it’s not just one case. In the past 20 years, only three women have ever been nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes — Sofia Coppola for 2003’s Lost in Translation, Kathryn Bigelow for 2009’s The Hurt Locker and Ava Duvernay for 2014’s Selma — and none of them have ever won.

The Academy Awards aren’t looking much better. In the past 90 years, only four women have ever been nominated for best director, Bigelow being the only one to ever win it.

Clearly, this is a problem that has existed for some time, and one that isn’t going to magically go away by itself. It’s something that needs to be realized, discussed and, above all, encouraged to change.

Let’s be honest, do we really need to see any more of Michael Bay’s male gaze in our studio films?

That doesn’t mean we’re completely without hope either. With the #MeToo campaign, people are speaking out and calling for change now more than ever. Disney (while their plans to buy Fox and become a monopoly are still troubling), has recently been the first big studio to name more than one female as director of a film with a budget over $100 million — Ava DuVernay for A Wrinkle in Time, Anna Boden for Captain Marvel and Niki Caro for Mulan.

credit: Youtube

Reese Witherspoon has also announced a plan to help bring more women into Hollywood, starting a new production company with female stories in mind. “My production company Hello Sunshine is all based on telling stories about women by women,” Witherspoon told PEOPLE. “So we want to create more opportunity and hire more female directors and more female writers.”

The ball has begun rolling to include more and more women, but it still has a long way to go.

That being said, don’t become discouraged by the news. There are still women out there who are telling stories that deserve your attention. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a remarkable film from Lynne Ramsay about the difficulties of loving a child. Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is a terrifying (I had to sleep with the lights on the first time I watched that movie) Australian horror film. These are movies that should be seen, and you have to take the time to see them.

Never mind if the big studios haven’t fully come around to the movement yet —  the opportunity to start the change you want to see is sitting right in front of you. Start watching.

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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.