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A Next Step Towards Gender Parity for Women Directors

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood June 12, 2013 at 2:00PM

A couple of months ago there was a big meeting at the DGA addressing the issue of the lack of opportunities for women directors. It took about a year to organize and was met with a positive response. But positive responses don't necessarily mean action. In order for there to be real change and for women to get more opportunities there needs to be significant institutional change not only at the DGA, but also in the industry. That will take a very long time, even though there have already been women pushing and pushing for decades. It's not that this is a new issue. It's been going on for decades.
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female filmmaker

A couple of months ago there was a big meeting at the DGA addressing the issue of the lack of opportunities for women directors.  It took about a year to organize and was met with a positive response.  But positive responses don't necessarily mean action.  In order for there to be real change and for women to get more opportunities there needs to be significant institutional change not only at the DGA, but also in the industry.  That will take a very long time, even though there have already been women pushing and pushing for decades.  It's not that this is a new issue.  It's been going on for decades.

Hopefully now is the time for a new push.  There are some women who won't just accept lip service.  They believe it is time to take this to the next level -- the legal level -- to try and achieve parity for women directors.  It's not an easy thing to sue.  If this was an easy case it would have been done many years ago.  Who do you sue?  Hiring someone to be a director for a film or TV show is subjective.  It's not like you work in an office under those types of rules.  That's why the hiring practices of directors and others in the entertainment business have been so protected, because it is so difficult to prove discrimination.

They women who are publicly leading this charge believe that this work is more important than their individual careers.  People say they are complainers can't get hired because they are not good, and of course crazy because that is what we love to call women who fight against injustice.  One woman who I have been in touch with -- Maria Giese -- a multi-award-winning, two-time feature film director who has worked with Academy Award nominated actors and is a member of the DGA and who desperately would love to continue working as a director -- knows that because she has taken this on she has probably sacrificed her future career as a director..  But she's not giving up.  Maria's been talking to numerous civil liberty and legal organizations and is trying to create a legal strategy that would hopefully force people in the business to hire women.   

Read the information about the legal strategy here.

The next step according to Maria is "to assess the production entities-- from independent producers to studios-- that are most egregiously in violation of Title VII in terms of discriminating against women directors, and begin to target them one by one. We will continue to add to the list as we see fit for as long as it takes to create gender parity in this industry. We have both legal and ethical right on our side, a growing movement of support, and nothing to stand in our way."

Maria hopes and believes that when there is a critical mass other women will put their names forward.  Right now people are supportive, albeit anonymously, for this effort.  But they are there.  Here are some of the comments from women in the industry.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and I am totally in awe of your courage and persistence.  You make me want to get back in the fight, but at my age just know that I will always be your best and faithful cheerleader.  If my 40 years in the business of filmmaking can help, I'm there. There is nothing the (DGA) Boy's Club fears more than public/national focus on them for their obvious sexism and racism and yes they have been pointing fingers at the producers and studios for 30 years in an effort to appear as the "good guys" in all this... They will first pull the ‘victim’ card and then if that isn't working they will become the threatening bully full of indignation that the women of the guild should dare to call in the ACLU as they've worked so hard for their female members.... Don't let them go there.

I think getting the ACLU involved is probably the only way to crack the pot again, but be prepared that women who are fortunate enough to be working will not want you to rock the boat, and they will be leaned on by producers in not very subtle ways to not be supportive of efforts regarding any kind of government involvement in industry decisions. You have a hard row to hoe and I do not envy you.

I so respect your efforts on behalf of all women filmmakers who are constantly being passed over for employment. Your group must resist their tactics to separate and divide. You must be united and not allow the little back biting and bitchiness to defeat you. Good luck!

I think you're going to need to attack both the Producers Guild and the DGA at the same time in a joint discrimmination suit brought on by the ACLU.  I know that's a BIG order, but I think you're up to the task.  Go get em!

Be watchful of the DGA's divide and conquer technique which they have been quite successful with in the past. They will approach the working female directors and try to get them on their team with the pointing at non-working female directors and hinting that if they start working it will be taking jobs from them, after all there are only so many jobs to go around.

This is not going to be easy.  We will be keeping careful watch as things progress.

More info here

This article is related to: Women Directors


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