The Review/News/

Creativity Is Creativity

How may infographics will it take before women can direct?

by
Jul 4, 2016

Since it’s Monday, let’s start with the feel-good news. After the #OscarsSoWhite backlash garnered earlier this year, the Academy Awards invited 683 new voting members to the voting pool this week, 52 of which are female directors. Hashtag activism wins this round!

Now, onto the bad news. A four-year study conducted by a company named Slated has revealed some pretty frustrating facts. By analyzing 1,591 films, researchers determined that films made by women produce a higher financial return than their male counterparts. However, in spite of this, female directors are still receiving 63 per cent less in financing. Take a few deep breaths and get ready to be infuriated by a bunch of infographics — the data is damning.

The statistics prove that films directed by women with a budget of less than $25 million do not generate the same amount of financial success. Hollywood studios are hesitant to give women more than $25 million per film, in spite of the overwhelming proof that their work brings in the biggest financial homeruns. Films made by women that were distributed internationally like 50 Shades of Gray (directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson) and Selma (made by Ava DuVernay) quadrupled their investment, compared to their male-directed counterparts. But independent films directed by women were not as successful. This is because for every 242 screens a female-led independent movie gets, the male-directed one gets 646.

Slated also considered the factor of genre, and whether or not women gravitated towards making films that were unprofitable. The answer? A resounding, “Hell, no.” While male filmmakers generate a more consistent return on investment across genres, the study concludes that female directors would achieve the same consistency if they were given more opportunities. In other words, more funding equals a broader scope of possibilities for directors during the filming process, who knew?

Stephen Paternot, CEO of Slated deems this fact a “distribution gap.” “This is the institutional bias, that you’ve somehow been taught as you’ve risen the ranks in the studio, that it’s a safer bet to go with a man,” he says. “That’s the trust gap. The women have given you better financial results, yet your gut’s still telling you to give them less money to work with. And the indie distributors are choosing not to take a risk on women’s movies.”

Established female directors like national treasure Ava Duvernay have been taking matters into their own hands. In an interview with People, she discussed her new television show, Queen Sugar, premiering on the Oprah Winfrey Network this September. In the world of TV directing, women directors make up 14 per cent of episodes airing on primetime television.

“Every single episode is directed by a woman,” she tells People. “It isn’t something that we see hardly enough. If Game of Thrones can have all men for the last three seasons, Queen Sugar can have all women and show what a fantastic show can be made from our hands and our minds.”

In the words of 24-hour badass Toni Collette, “It’s a fucking sexist industry. I don’t understand why genitalia make a difference. Creativity is creativity.”

For more stats and graphs, read the original article published by The Hollywood Reporter.