Where Are All the Female Filmmakers?

Where Are All the Female Filmmakers?

Words Tori West

GirlsInFilm champions and connects the new generation of female-identified creatives.

According to a report published by Hollywood Reporter, women made up just 7 percent of all directors in the top 250 films made last year. Despite the growing acknowledgement of the need to provide more opportunities for women in the industry, sadly, the statistics aren’t improving. In the same report, while expanding the study to 500 films, the overall percentage of women in the roles in 2016 was just 19 percent.

Female directors are a rare breed, with only a few gaining celebrity-status and recognition for their work. In conversation with Variety, earlier this year director Sofia Coppola discussed her concerns in regards to the lack of support women receive from the industry. The article even highlighted how her own mother struggled to finance her films: “Men are the bankers, and they have the money to invest,” says Sofia’s mother, Eleanor Coppola, 81, a filmmaker that spent six years trying to get financial support for her first feature. “A lot of women’s stories are different than men’s stories, and they are not being told.”

“A lot of women’s stories are different than men’s stories, and they are not being told.” – Eleanor Coppola

Throughout history, storytellers have played an important role in challenging the zeitgeist. They’re expected to articulate forward-thinking concepts, to push new ideas into the world in a quest to inspire and teach their audience. It’s important that the industry supports filmmakers from all backgrounds and genders, otherwise, how will their stories be told?

It seems as though films with women in higher roles is the answer to the industry obtaining a level playing field, a higher percentage of female-identifying writers and editors are hired than with exclusively male directors. This is also something Sofia Coppola encourages within her practice, “The nice thing about Sofia is she not only makes films about women from the female perspective,” says her production designer, Anne Ross. “She hires an enormous number of women on her crew. So many department heads were women.”

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In an attempt to combat the film industry’s gender bias is Girlsinfilm (GIF), a video platform offering online/offline and on-screen/off-screen visibility for female-identifying filmmakers around the globe. Alongside publishing shorts on their website, GIF arranges workshops and talks throughout the UK, providing IRL spaces for open discussions on key issues and movements within the industry. “Through our events, GIF presents an opportunity to connect the global network of female filmmakers with one another, as well as presenting their work to the industry at large, creating a space for conversation and collaboration,” not the company on their website.

In a world that is forever evolving—with our technology constantly advancing and becoming more accessible—it can be more difficult for emerging filmmakers and directors to carve their own path within the industry. Although it may be easier to get your name out there on a smaller budget, it’s made it easier to create videos. For instance, a six-year-old now understands how to make a video by using their parent’s phone. Like photography, its accessibility is a double edged sword as it’s made it easier for creatives to slip through the net. With platforms like GIF supporting emerging female-identifying talent, perhaps this will put pressure on the male-dominated industry to provide equal opportunities and in return, support the creatives that deserve to tell their story.

Header image, Sofia Coppola with thanks to Film Society of Lincoln Center