Women in Film: How can We Improve the Odds

It is not easy being a woman director. Nor is it easy being a woman in any kind of role in front of or behind the camera. But it’s even more difficult to be considered for a position on the crew, or for a part originally written for a man.

For Tango Macbeth women held the following positions:

Assistant Director
Associate Choreographer
Sound Recordist
Sound Assistant
Make-Up Artist
Production Manager
Associate Producer
4 Camera Operators

–Plus 12 actresses played 18 characters in Macbeth

Below is an article I found on IndieWire about women in film.

What Bigelow Effect? Number of Women Directors in Hollywood Falls to 5 Percent

News by Melissa Silverstein | January 24, 2012 | 5 Comments

The Oscar nominations this morning give us another year where there are no women directors included in the list.  This year we won’t see Kathryn Bigelow up on the stage giving out the best director award to the next winner.  When she won two years ago there was much hope that the numbers of women directing in Hollywood would get better.You can’t really judge anything in year one because it takes so long to make films.  But here we are in year two and the numbers have gone down.  They didn’t even stay the same.  They went down.  Women make up 5 percent of directors in Hollywood in 2011.  I find that a devestating number.  Five percent.  That’s down from 7 percent in 2010 and down from 7 percent in 2009.  That’s down from 9 percent in 1998.  Women made more movies as directors in 1998 than they did in 2011.

This is gut check time people.

People like to think that things are getting better and on the surface it may look like that.  Women make up 18% of all behind the scenes roles in Hollywood.  That’s up from 16% last year.  But that is virtually the same amount as when these statistics started being tabulated in 1998.  No progress overall in over a decade.Sure, some of the numbers have improved.  Cinematographers have gone up two points to 4 percent.  Women writers to 14%.  Women producers are at 25%.  But none of these numbers have shown any significant improvement in over a decade.

Women’s progress in Hollywood is stalled and has been for a long time.  Don’t believe the bullsh@# that things are better.  it’s all smoke and mirrors.  Something serious must be done.

As always, a big thanks for Dr. Martha Lauzen at SDSU for showing the reality on women’s progress or lack thereof in Hollywood.

The Full Executive Summary:

The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2011
by Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2012 – All rights reserved.

In 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2010 and an increase of 1 percentage point from 1998.

Women accounted for 5% of directors, a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2010 and approximately half the percentage of women directors working in 1998.

The following summary provides employment figures for 2011 and compares the most recent statistics with those from previous years.


This study analyzed behind-the-scenes employment of 2,636 individuals working on the top 250 domestic grossing films (foreign films omitted) of 2011.

  • 38% of films employed 0 or 1 woman in the roles considered, 23% employed 2 women, 30% employed 3 to 5 women, and 7% employed 6 to 9 women.
  • A historical comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2011 and 1998 reveals that the percentage of women directors has declined. The percentages of women writers and producers have increased slightly. The percentages of women executive producers, editors, and cinematographers have remained the same.
  • Women comprised 5% of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2011. Ninety four percent (94%) of the films had no female directors.
  • Women accounted for 14% of writers working on the top 250 films of 2011. Seventy seven percent (77%) of the films had no female writers.
  • Women comprised 18% of all executive producers working on the top 250 films of 2011.  Fifty nine percent (59%) of the films had no female executive producers.
  • Women accounted for 25% of all producers working on the top 250 films of 2011. Thirty six percent (36%) of the films had no female producers.
  • Women accounted for 20% of all editors working on the top 250 films of 2011. Seventy six percent (76%) of the films had no female editors.
  • Women comprised 4% of all cinematographers working on the top 250 films of 2011. Ninety six percent (96%) of the films had no female cinematographers.
  • Women were most likely to work in the documentary, drama, and comedy genres. They were least likely to work in the horror, action, and animated genres.

Report compiled by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, School of Theatre, Television and Film, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, 92182, 619.594.6301.

One thought on “Women in Film: How can We Improve the Odds

  1. February 10 2012
    For Immediate Release:

    Son of a Tuskegee Airman tapped by Lucas to design Red Tails action sequences

    Exhibiting the sensitivity which guided him throughout the lengthy process of developing Red Tails, George Lucas invited illustrator David Russell in 2008 to design key action sequences in the film, including the powerful opening attack scene. Russell, whose father James C. Russell was a decorated Tuskegee Airman, was understandably thrilled to work on the production. In designing these sequences Russell wanted to make the viewers feel they were “in the cockpit”, and brought his considerable storytelling abilities to bear, enhanced by his father’s exciting wartime experiences. And the Seattle Post Intelligencer critic Tim Hall writes: “What does work for Red Tails is the intense action sequences. Each dogfight puts you right in the cockpit with the pilots.” The Variety senior film critic Peter Debruge described these airborne scenes as “dazzling.” When asked in a recent interview how he directed airborne sequences, film director Anthony Hopkins said: “you take storyboards for all the action sequences, you give them to computer artists who then animate those storyboards. I was able to [then] sit with the actors and talk about the sequences.”

    Lucas gave David Russell his first industry break on Return of the Jedi. Russell went on to become one of top Hollywood concept and storyboard illustrators. A master of visual storytelling, his remarkable list of credits includes Paradise Lost, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Moulin Rouge, Master and Commander, The Thin Red Line, Tombstone, Terminator2: Judgement Day, Batman and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In 1985, Russell became the first African-American to be admitted to the Illustrator’s and Matte Artist’s Union, courtesy of Lucas’ good friend Steven Spielberg, who hired the artist on The Color Purple, another groundbreaking film.

    For more information about David Russell, please visit:

    For all inquiries or to arrange an interview with the artist, please contact Debbie Watkins at Muse Careers :
    (310) 776 7725

    You may contact David Russell directly at:

    – End –

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