Art And Culture

US Women Filmmakers Held 19% of Top Jobs in 2015

US Women Filmmakers Held 19% of Top Jobs in 2015US Women Filmmakers Held 19% of Top Jobs in 2015

A new study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University shows that female directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers in the US made little progress last year.

In 2015, women comprised just 19% of the filmmakers working behind the screen on the top 250 domestic-grossing movies as directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers. It was up slightly from 17% in 2014. But it hardly represented progress, as it simply matched the 19% achieved in 2001, which represents the highest employment level for women filmmakers since the annual study began in 1998, reports Hollywood Reporter.

Despite that minor fluctuation, “This year it is status quo,” says Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the center, who oversees the annual report, known as The Celluloid Ceiling. Although the disparity in both pay and opportunities afforded women filmmakers has become a hot topic, Lauzen notes, “Now, the issue is getting a push from a cultural consciousness that supports diversity. But the numbers have yet to change. The film industry is a large industry, and it takes a long time for change to occur.”

Within the 250 top films, some jobs were more open to women than others. During 2015, women fared best as producers (26%), editors (22%) and executive producers (20%) and found less acceptance as writers (11%), directors (9%) and cinematographers (6%).

“It is very easy to be misled by a few high-profile cases,” Lauzen cautions.

While foreign films were not included in the analysis, the 2015 study was expanded for the first time to include a look at both the 100 top-grossing films and the larger universe of 500 top-grossing movies, and there a pattern emerged.

Among the 100 biggest box-office movies, which tended to include bigger-budget and studio projects, women accounted for 16% of the key behind-the-scenes roles, but among the larger group of 500 movies, which included smaller-budget indie movies and documentaries, women were better represented, accounting for 21% of all directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers. The simple explanation: Women are more likely to be given opportunities when budgets are low and less money is at risk.