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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

women are faring very badly in the film industry…


…and Stephen Follows — screenwriter, film producer, and industry watcher — has crunched the numbers that prove it. You can download the full 16-page report in PDF form at his site. A few highlights:

• Women make up only 23% of crew members on the 2,000 highest grossing films of the past 20 years.

• In 2013, under 2% of Directors were female.

• The only departments to have a majority of women are Make-up, Casting and Costume

• Visual Effects is the largest department on most major movies and yet only has 17.5% women

• Musicals and Music-based films have the highest proportion of women in their crews (27%).

• Sci-Fi and Action films have the smallest proportion of women (20% and 21% respectively).

• There has been no improvement in the last 20 years. The percentage of female crew members has decreased between 1994 (22.7%) and 2013 (21.8%).

• The three most significant creative roles (Writer, Producer and Director) have all seen the percentage of women fall.

• The jobs performed by women have become more polarised. In jobs which are traditionally seen as more female (art, costume and make-up) the percentage of women has increased, whereas in the more technical fields (editing and visual effects) the percentage of women has fallen.

Cue all the clueless dolts blaming women’s lack of interest and/or uteruses getting in the way. See, it’s not that women’s progress is blocked at every angle, it’s that women just don’t want to make movies.

Oh. Wait.

Filmmaker Magazine this week announced its 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and as Women and Hollywood noted, half of them are women. (Actually, it’s 13 out of 25, so slightly more than half.) So, yes, women do want to make movies, and women are taking the first steps up the filmmaking ladder by actually making their first movies. (Many of these young filmmakers are making shorts, which often serve as calling cards to get a foot in the door at the studios, and for rustling up more work and/or financing for future films.)

The real question is this: If we were to revisit this list of 25 up-and-coming filmmakers in a decade, how many of them will have gone on to have enduring careers as filmmakers? I’m willing to bet that we’ll find that more men than women on this list will still be making movies in ten years, because more of the men will have gotten support that the women never got.

I’d be delighted to be wrong about that. But unless there’s a major paradigm shift in the industry, I won’t be.

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