Women filmmakers Cut Out of the Picture
by Naman Ramachandran
- Just 13.6% of working film directors in a decade were women
A new report commissioned by filmmakers’ body Directors UK has revealed the levels of gender inequality in the British film industry. The report, titled Cut Out of the Picture, studies 2591 films released between 2005 and 2014 and finds that women directed just 13.6% of these. The report also finds that on average, female directors will direct fewer films in their career and are less likely to receive a second, third or fourth directing opportunity. Furthermore, as budgets rise, fewer female directors are hired and those that are hired are disproportionately limited to certain genres. In 2007, 32.9% of films with UK-based public funding had a woman director, but by 2014 that had dropped to just 17%. The report found no evidence of any organised, conscious or deliberate efforts to exclude women from the industry or certain positions within it, and posits that the gender imbalance is primarily due to an unconscious bias.
Sarah Gavron, the award-winning director of Suffragette [+see also:
film profile] and Brick Lane [+see also:
film profile], said, “It is shocking and startling to see these figures. I left film school in 2000 and every year I have expected the figures (of women directors) to increase, but they are not getting better. The research shows how important it is to find ways to support women filmmakers after they graduate from film school, or after to making their short films, to go on to make their first, second and third feature films - in order to counter the drop off that happens. It was only when I started seeing films directed by women that I felt I could dare to try to direct. Role models are key to developing and encouraging the next generation of filmmakers.”
Susanna White, director of upcoming 13 May UK release Our Kind of Traitor [+see also:
film profile] (read news), said, “It is shocking to see the extent of this relentless bias laid out in black and white. And why this study is so important is because it offers clear recommendations as to how we can start redressing the balance.”
The report offers three recommendations - a target of 50/50 gender parity within public funding by 2020; amending the Film Tax Relief to require all UK films to account for diversity; and an industry wide campaign to rebalance gender inequality within UK film.
Oliver Parker, director of 2016 British hit Dad’s Army, said, “I am completely in favour of the Directors UK recommendations. They represent a strong and significant message that things have to change. The first challenge is to identify the problem, which the report nails in stark terms. Raising awareness is key, then taking action. In the long term, the UK film industry needs to become more robust. Britain is at its best when it embraces diversity, when it encourages individuality. It’s plain dumb to exclude 50% of those individuals from something they’ve trained to do.”