Infographic Highlights Lack of Women Directors

lack of female movie directors It’s no secret that women remain significantly underrepresented in the filmmaking industry, especially when it comes to female directors. A recent infographic from streaming movie service Fandor serves as a stark illustration of just how few women directors there are—and, even more unsettling, an emerging decline in these already low numbers that seems to indicate a troubling trend.

Take a look at some of the stats we found particularly eye-opening (and, we’re not going to lie, more than a bit depressing):

  • Women made up 5% of Hollywood directors in 2011, down from 7% in 2010 and 9% in 1998.
  • Women directors have been nominated for an Oscar 4 times in 85 years.
  • There are 15.24 male directors for every 1 female director.
  • Females direct more documentaries (34.5%) than narrative films (16.9%).

Check out Fandor’s infographic for more startling stats, as well as a nod to several successful women indie film directors including Mira Nair, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Lisa Cholodenko.

women directors infographic

This is a powerful visual and clearly those stats need to change.

In light of the above, it’s especially encouraging to see companies like female-friendly Tangerine Entertainment, co-founded by Abby Hoffman and Anne Hubbell, getting ready to launch “Lucky Them” this fall. We can’t describe what they do any better than they do, so here’s a snippet from their corporate mission statement:

Tangerine Entertainment is a film production company focusing on commercially viable, critically acclaimed stories for all audiences, with an emphasis on female filmmakers and strong roles for women. Tangerine has a clear and specific agenda aimed at increasing the presence of smart, complex women both behind and in front of the camera.

The imbalance created by the lack of gender parity offers an opportunity for Tangerine to take advantage of relevant stories and distinct voices found in this underserved community. Utilizing all social media tools and creating grassroots opportunities for personal interaction, Tangerine aims to develop a fan base, while simultaneously creating work for that audience.

Another don’t miss voice in the industry is IndieWire’s Melissa Silverstein and her Women and Hollywood blog championing women in the industry.

These are just a few of the people passionate about women in the film industry and they and others are working to help aspiring female filmmakers and directors, as well as women in general, succeed in becoming resilient and empowered and making their dreams come true. It’s time.

Were you surprised by Fandor’s findings? And what do you think needs to happen in order to help more women become film directors? We’d love to hear your thoughts—after all, we’re in this together!

Image by photographerglen via CC

  • kammi

    I was not surprised at all, because I work in the film industry. I think that the mindset of the entire industry has to change. I’ve worked with two female directors of note and several females on set and by the time they had about 20 plus years of experience they were all pretty exhausted and frustrated and everyone had horror stories. Everyone who works on set knows it was founded on a military system (which is quite telling) and inherently sexist. Their efforts are undermined and there is always a lack of respect for what they do. I know of one assistant director who asked a cinematographer to please put out his cigar and he blew smoke in her face and stuck the cigar in her drink. I know of another camera assistant who struggled even to get a start because one of the bosses at a major studio saw her one day on the lot and said he would die before he sees a woman in her position and told her to leave. In creative or technical positions, there are persons who will not even speak to you or appreciate your input because you are a female (I’ve experienced this personally and someone had to intervene and mention that yes, I do know what I’m talking about). A lot of the successes of women in filmmaking currently also show the support of a strong male figure (either behind the scenes or in conjunction). I’d like this to change also (eg. Scorsese had to champion Thelma Schoonmaker for years before she was admitted into IATSE). Also, I think that events like the technical academy awards, with their skimpily dressed females who know nothing much about the event but just ‘look hot’, perpetuates this kind of mentality. I think that in a way a lot of the industry’s heads are very much out of touch and it’s embarrassing but there are good people and I think that it will all eventually change. Oh yeah, and where are all the minorities (Natives, asians, persons of colour, etc) and their true voice instead of cut outs of what they represent?

    • brendachapman

      I know there are soooo many horror stories in this same vein. Yes, we need to keep fighting the good fight. I want the success stories to be honored, as well, just to show that it can be done, and done well by women. We need to stand strong and do our jobs well, when we can do them, and not give up when we get the door slammed in our face.
      Thanks for sharing your experiences and those of your friends.

  • Cristian I. Fabio

    Interesting the story, with statistics,s to put quiet, and it’s not a joke, an various countries, in the indrusria, there are more women as men directors, such, don’t know if it is a lie or not, in the case of the Latin American Animation, especially in Argentina, as in Chile.

    For me, of Hollywood, it was machist, already long time ago, and it makes me sad that do not support to integrate, not single women, that if they are capable of dririgir, but also the interests of other groups minoritatios, to people with disabilities. This story, we need to think.

  • G Melissa Graziano-Humphrey

    I think part of the problem is that mainstream media doesn’t know how to sell the kinds of stories that women want to tell, and therefore WON’T sell them. They’re afraid those stories will fail because they haven’t been done. They haven’t been done, so therefore they won’t do it. I pitched several ideas to a friend of mine lately, and she kept saying, “That hasn’t been done, that won’t sell, they won’t buy it.” Well, what if they did take a chance on it, and it was a hit? Suddenly everyone would be asking, “Why hasn’t this been done before?” Because nobody would give it a chance, that’s why!

    It’s also noteworthy to look at successful films featuring complex female characters, which is also dismally low in proportion to those with no or few women characters. It took Terminator 10 years to get made; no one would buy it because nobody had done a movie like that before. And it has a female lead! Gone With the Wind features one (arguably, two) of the most complex female characters ever written, and (if adjusted for inflation) is the biggest box office blockbuster ever. And the novel was written by a woman (even if the screenplay was written by a man, he lifted almost every line directly from the book). And let’s not even get started on Hunger Games. So all that B.S. about men not enjoying stories about women, or women not being good storytellers, or any of that malarchy? Sorry, we’re not buying it.

    By the way, I’m the woman who, several years ago, asked you, Brenda, how we as woman filmmakers can keep from banging our heads against the walls that keep popping up, preventing us from moving forward. I’m still banging and it’s starting to give me more than just a headache.

    • brendachapman

      I know. Me, too. I take a lot of ibuprofen.
      Those are really strong examples – would be nice if they’d pay attention!

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