USC Annenberg has just released a new comprehensive study examining 1,000 top-grossing films over the past nine years. How many of the directors of these blockbuster marvels were male? How many were female? The numbers are jaw to the ground shocking, only further proving how important it is to support and advocate for women and minorities both behind and in front of the camera.
“The Director’s Chair is White and Male,” is just one of the eye-opening headlines from the Annenberg study, preceding a mass of harrowing statistics: Out of 1,000 films, there were 35 unique female directors between 2007 and 2016. That’s 35 women directing top-grossing films over the last 9 years. Thirty-five, that’s it. Think about that number in comparison to the 1,079 male directors over the same amount of time. That’s a ratio of 24 males to one female director.
What’s more, only 57 (5.1%) of the total 1,114 directors were Black or African American, 34 (3%) were Asian or Asian American, and only 1 director was Latina. Of these already shockingly low numbers, 3 of the total 57 Black or African American directors and 3 of the total 34 Asian or Asian American directors, were women.
These numbers support the Director’s Chair as indisputably “white and male.” Moreover, they hold an even heavier weight, as the study also found that women and minorities face other career hurdles such as age and opportunity restrictions that do not hold the same effect for the career of the white, male director. This industry practice stunts potential visionaries and starves audiences of awe-inspiring films that we’ll never see because women and minorities were never allowed the opportunity to sit in the Director’s Chair.
At FF2 Media, we see every film directed by a woman released in NYC each week. We know that the movies are there, that the talent is there, and that the women are there. What’s not? Is the support, exposure, and opportunities to tackle top-grossing blockbusters.
FF2 Managing Editor Brigid Presecky says it perfectly:
Although film release schedules are saturated with female-produced content, the art house films rarely generate enough revenue to give female writers and/or directors a chance at producing a Hollywood blockbuster. A solution to the problem? Awareness and a wallet.
Support female directors in their first go-around by attending an independent film screening, reading/sharing reviews (available at FF2 Media) and spreading the word. Much like “Small Business Saturday,” right after the Thanksgiving turkey digests … make a conscious effort to support these women's initial and subsequent endeavors. If their first film is a box office success, the chances of getting funding for a second are significantly increased. And thus, another crack in the glass ceiling.
Top Photo: Photo from Vulture's empowering article "100 Women Directors Hollywood Should Be Hiring."
Bottom Photo: The names of the 35 females in the top-grossing Director's Chair.
Photo Credits: Vulture and USC Annenberg (Graphics Patricia Lapadula)