Women Still Underrepresented Behind The Camera Of Box Office … – Forbes

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 15: Chinonye Chukwu directed Till, one of the few films in 2022 with … [+] female directors (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI)
Women’s employment in the top-grossing films of 2022 remains astonishingly low, according to a new report. Composers, writers, directors and cinematographers working behind the scenes on the movies we watched last year were overwhelmingly male, and women’s representation in these roles has barely budged in the previous 25 years.
In 2022, women comprised 24% of directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 grossing films, down 1% from 2021. This is according to the Celluloid Ceiling report, which has tracked women’s employment on the 250 top-grossing films for the last 25 years. “Having monitored credits for a quarter of a century, the project provides the longest-running and most comprehensive record of women’s behind-the-scenes representation available,” writes the report’s author Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. This year’s study examines women’s employment on the top films of 2022 in the U.S. by analyzing over 2,800 credits.
According to the report, women comprised just 7% of cinematographers working on the top 250 grossing films of 2022. That’s up only three percent from 1998 when Lauzen started collecting data. The number of female editors hasn’t improved much either, increasing from 20% in 1998 to 21% in 2022. Women didn’t fare much better in other roles, comprising only 19% of writers, 25% of executive producers, and 31% of producers in 2022. For the top 100 grossing films, the numbers were similar, with women faring best as producers (28%), editors (18%), writers (17%), directors (11%), and cinematographers (8%). Only 9% of composers of the top 100 films were women.
“Given the number of panels, research reports, and hand-wringing devoted to this issue over the last two and a half decades, one would expect more substantial gains,” Lauzen noted in a press release associated with the report. “It took the accumulation of over two decades of advocacy efforts, research reports and an EEOC investigation to double the percentage of women directors from 9% to 18%, and women are still dramatically underrepresented in that role. One can only imagine that it will take the same amount of effort to increase the numbers of women working in other positions, such as cinematographers and editors,” she adds.
The EEOC case that Lauzen mentioned found that major Hollywood Studios “systematically discriminated” against female directors. According to reports, all six major studios engaged in settlement talks with the EEOC due to the alleged sexist hiring practices.
It’s not a lack of interest that explains the scarcity of women behind the camera. Maria Giese, one of the female directors whose complaint launched the EEOC investigation wrote that when she entered UCLA’s graduate directing program in 1995, women represented half of the class. Clearly, the interest is there. Giese adds, “Men had directed almost 100% of the films we studied.”
Talent also doesn’t explain the gender discrepancy between the numbers of male and female directors, as research indicates films with female directors get the same critical acclaim as those with male directors.
The good news, if there is any, is that women in senior roles may be helping bring in more women. The top 250 films with at least one female director employed substantially more women in key behind-the-scenes roles than films with exclusively male directors. For example, on films with at least one woman director, women comprised 53% of writers, but on films with only male directors, women accounted for a mere 12% of writers. The trend is repeated for the other roles as well. Thirty-nine percent of editors were women in female-directed films, but that number dropped to 19% under male directors. And 19% of cinematographers were female in women-directed films, but only 4% of cinematographers were female in male-directed films.
Female directors are key to getting more women behind the scenes. Yet, another new study examined the top 1600 films from 2007 to 2022 and concluded that progress has stalled for female directors. And the situation is even more dire for female directors of color. In total, over 80% of directors were white men, 14% were men from underrepresented groups, 4% were white women, and only 1% were women from underrepresented groups.
For those who want to support films directed by women, 2022’s top-grossing films with female directors included: Where the Crawdads Sing directed by Olivia Newman, The Woman King directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, Don’t Worry Darling directed by Oliva Wilde, The Invitation directed by Jessica M. Thompson, Marry Me, directed by Kat Coiro, Father Stu, directed by Rosalind Ross, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies directed by Halina Reijn, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody directed by Kasi Lemmons, Till directed by Chinonye Chukwu and She Said directed by Maria Schrader.


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