I don’t think that it’s any real secret that female writers and directors in Hollywood not only are a rare bunch, but that their influence in the industry pales in comparison to their male counterparts. We’ve spoken about this more than once here at The Awards Circuit, but I wanted to point out a recent piece in the opinion pages of The New York Times that writer/director Martha Coolidge penned (found here) on just that. She’s got a lot to say about the “Celluloid Celing” and how women can gain influence in Hollywood, so I’ll let her speak for herself after the jump. It’s a good read (as well as hopefully starts a debate worth having), and you can see it below, so take a look…
I was raised to believe I was equal and discovered, working in movies, that this wasn’t true. I’ve spent my life trying to change that. Though female directors are now a small part of the industry, we are an invisible minority. Even in government, we lack representation. It feels like we’ve gone backward. The cultural dismissal of women is so ingrained that the public, including women, doesn’t seem to perceive a problem.
For example, in the movie world, Steven Spielberg has always been seen as the quintessential wunderkind. And studios are always on the lookout for the next “boy wonder.” Thousands of would-be directors enter film school every year believing they could be the one, but only the best achieve careers. For a guy, competition is fierce, but for a woman, winning the lottery is a safer bet.
So how can we foster the first “girl wonder”?
Here is my dramatic answer: I believe we should legislate an intervention in hiring practices, similar to a civil rights or equal opportunity employment act against discrimination in private organizations. Are Republicans and Democrats going to join hands to pass this? No.
So here are my other ideas.
1. We should learn to identify with female heroes and leaders. This will open up all genres to women and empower female directors to tell stories the mass audience wants to see.
2. Young women should believe successful directing careers are within their reach. They should then train and hone their craft.
3. Producers and studios should hire many more women than they do now and truly embrace the belief that one of them could be “it.” They should judge women on the strength of their ideas and work, not on their sex appeal.
4. Producers shouldn’t limit women to lower budget films. They should expect them to handle big crews, big budgets, big ideas and big stars.
5. All of us, parents and teachers starting in childhood, and later men in the business, should never ask girls and/or women to play into gender-based feminine behavior.
6. Competitive women in particular should want success as a director before anything else, like finding a man or having a family. Successful directors are workaholics who define themselves by their careers and seek the company of their creative colleagues.
7. Women should feel secure with power, employing and delegating to others, and making decisions alone.
8. As a culture, we should embrace women in command. We should accept their eccentric behavior, and at times, the tantrums that come along with the extreme pressures of producing great work. Most women directors learn to walk a delicate line between being “difficult” and wimpy. Male directors don’t waste time or energy on this.
9. We should remember that men and women are equals. The emphasis on the differences of our genders in marketing, sports, school and, most problematic of all, religion, is not doing us any favors in show business.
10. We should glamorize female directors: mythologize them and promote their successes. Only then will the younger generations grasp, in a realistic and exciting way, the possibility of a movie-making “girl wonder.”
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!