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The Struggles of an Aspiring Female Filmmaker

An in Depth Piece on Sexism & Criticism

Shiri Appleby on the set of UnREAL

The Feminist Movement has brought about a great deal of change in regard to women in the workplace. Women are in positions that we never would have imagined, from lawyers to CEOs to Senators. In the film industry though, men still rule most of the industry and female directors are rare. 
As a screenwriting & producing major in college, I am often reminded that my odds of making a good career and name for myself will have its troubles. I'm dedicated, I'd say that I think I'm pretty good, but that doesn't matter if there is a man who can do the job better than me.

This isn't me trying to be a hardcore feminist or anything, I just want to discuss the challenges women face when they want to work in this industry. There are a great deal of myths that I would like to address and put these ideals to rest.

Statistics on Women in the Film Industry

These statistics are a constant struggle for me to look at as a female who wants to work behind the scenes. They are from the Women and Hollywood website and it is in regard to the top 1,100 grossing films from 2007 to 2017.

  • 95.7% of all directors were male and 4.3% were female. This translates to 22 male directors hired to every one female director.
  • Male directors start their careers earlier (20s) than female directors and some continue working into their 70s and 80s. The latter is not the case for women directors.
  • There was a total of 665 individual or unique directors, with 622 males (93.5%) and 43 females (6.5%).
  • Males directed between one and 15 movies during the 11-year time frame whereas females directed between one and four movies.
  • The company with the highest number of female directed movies was Warner Bros. Pictures (12) and the lowest were Paramount (three) and Lionsgate (three).(

Every time I look at these statistics, I am reminded of the struggle that I will have to face to get my name out into the world as a great director. I know that I can do it, but at the same time I know that there is a large chance that I won't. 

Women Can't Do as Good as a Man Can

This is only going to take a second because this is mostly feminist and gender theory, but men are often regarded as stronger and more intelligent than women. This is often the main ideology behind the idea of hiring female directors. I'm not going to bore you with these things, but just know that this ideology is real and rampant in the industry. 

Women Only Succeed on TV Because It's a Feminine Medium

Television is a lot more progressive than film these days. Television is a medium where you can really try out anything you want, and is a perfect place for women to make a name/career for themselves. One of my media professors stated in class that you are a female director, most of your work is going to be TV. I want to make feature length films that have a great deal of depth, I don't want to write a half an hour sitcom, or hour long drama. I want full creative control over my work, where on TV there is a great deal of restriction and censorship. 

SIDENOTE: I know this sounds like a lot of this sounds selfish, but I just feel that women should get the same treatment and recognition as men. 

Women Don't Want to Direct Action/Horror Films

I think this is the myth that infuriates me the most. Women are almost always game to direct action and horror films, I know I definitely would be. Just because a film or genre has a demographic that is mostly male does not mean that women won't like it or want to make it. One of my professors was actually discussing how Bloomhouse Productions has a lot of women writers, especially on horror films, but when the women want to direct the scripts they wrote they are denied because "a man should do it". 

Women belong in the writing Room, not the director's chair.

A great deal of times in Hollywood, women write screenplays, but are denied directing the film that they have written. I want to write and direct, so that fact that I will probably have to let a man direct the script annoys me, but I know that it's a success just to sell/work on a screenplay that is being turned into a film. Again, I'm not trying to be extremely feminist, I just would love to be able to write a script and be able to direct it in the way that I envisioned. 

"You're pretty good... for a girl."

As a writer, I often share my work with other for feedback on pieces that I write. For the most part, they are positive and constructive criticism, but sometimes, they are rather annoying to say the least. Over the summer I took a course online that involved adapting short stories into short films. I loved it and overall it was a great and insightful class. One of our assignments was to write an adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe short of our choice and have the class critique it online. I chose to do an adaptation of my favorite, The Tell-Tale Heart. One of the men in my class critiqued it in a nice way at first, but he ended it by stating "You're pretty good...for a girl." This infuriated me because it had nothing to do with my overall ability. He could have left his critique the way it was, but he had to go and through in a rather sexist line like that. Now, this guy is not the first man to say this, and I know he will not be the last, but I really wish that gender did not play a "role" in your writing ability. 

At the end of the day, I know that I will have a career in film, I just don't know whether it will be as successful as I want. I would love if I do, but I understand why I wouldn't, it makes me mad, but I understand. I wish that their would be some kind of movement for women in the film industry, who knows, one day I could be leading something like that. 

I hope you guys liked this article, and if you can, definitely check out some films directed and/or written by females. Also, leave a tip/gift if you like what I write. 

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