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An Oscar-Nominated Director Gets Real About How Women Are Treated in Hollywood

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by Lexi Alexander
January 14, 2014 10:54 AM
150 Comments
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Director Lexi Alexander

The following is cross-posted from Lexi Alexander's blog with permission from the author.

Editor's Note: The post below is very important. This is a woman director standing up for herself and other women directors. She does this at great peril, but it is so important that women directors stand up and share their experiences because the more women that stand up the less chance there is for one women to be held responsible for speaking truth to power.

There are only two kinds of people who are successful at this social media thing. Those who are funny and those who get real. I am not that funny, and I have yet to get real publicly. 

Today is a good day to change that. Since funny is not an option, I am going to take a deep breath, muster up all the courage I can, and talk about an issue I have long observed despairingly from the sidelines. 

Over the past three or four months I have been contacted by a civil liberties organization regarding this issue, I have spoken to several reporters anonymously, I've had lawyers call me to inform me that my forty-minute Academy Award-nominated short film somehow uniquely qualifies me for something I never, ever wanted to qualify for (it has to do with an excuse showrunners like to use when turning down feature directors for episode gigs), I even attended two DGA Women's Steering Committee meetings, and the best part, I have met many fellow women directors.

Facts:

1) The media has never covered the lack of women in film and television more extensively than right now (skip the links if you must, just trying to make a point):

"Because We Need More Kathryn Bigelows: Segregate the Oscars by Gender!"

"Only Two of the 100 Top-Grossing Movies of the Year Were Directed by Women"

"The Bigger the Film, the Fewer the Women: Nominations for This Year's Oscars Will Prove Hollywood's Sexism"

"Golden Globes by Gender: Where Are All the Women?"

"Quote of the Day: Manohla Dargis: 'The Movie Industry is Failing Women'"

"Hollywood Sexist? Female Directors Still Missing in Action"

Those are just from the past few weeks. The list goes on and on.

2) There is no lack of female directors. Repeat after me: THERE IS NO LACK OF FEMALE DIRECTORS. But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities. I swear, if anyone near me even so much as whispers the sentence "Women probably don't want to direct," my fist will fly as a reflex action.

Side note: The previous statement labels me as "difficult".

If I would instead have ended the sentence with, "I don't know what I'm going to do," I would be labeled as "indecisive." By letter of the law, all female directors must fall in one of two categories: Difficult or Indecisive. Bitch or Ditz. Hello, my name is Lexi Alexander, Difficult Bitch. Nice to meet you!

3) Despite the fact that plenty of outlets love to cover the "Women in Hollywood" issue, not one mainstream journalist has had the balls to really get to the bottom of the issue. (There are rumors about a prominent investigative journalist circling the story, but I'll believe it when I read it.)

4) Gender discrimination in Hollywood goes far beyond women simply not getting the gig. It is reflected in movie budgets, P&A budgets, the size of distribution deals (if a female director's movie is lucky enough to score one), official and unofficial internship or mentorship opportunities, union eligibility, etc.

5) Women in Hollywood have no male allies. There are some who pretend to be on our side, but yeah, not really. They may say the right thing because, after all, they're liberals and that's a public image they'd like to keep up. Others may actually believe in gender equality, but are not willing to put up a fight for it that could sacrifice their own status or relationships.

The majority of people think exactly like those anonymous commenters that pop up under any of the above linked articles. Check them out, they're easy to recognize: White male, oblivious to the affirmative-action bonus that came with the cradle? Yup, that's him. He will shout and scream in capital letters about reverse discrimination and argue that people should be hired based on merit and not gender, revealing that his three-hundred-thousand-dollar education really isn't worth a dime.

I'm going to get a lot of heat for the above statement, but I promised to get real. "What's that? You're saying this is not true, that there are many men in Hollywood who have tried to change the status quo?"

Okay. Let's be fair and really dissect this. (I would love, love, love to be wrong about this).

This past Saturday I went to one of those Women's Steering Committee meetings at the DGA. To be honest, after the first meeting I went to a few months ago, I swore I would never go again. It just seemed weird and kind of upside-down. The people with the most intelligent things to say were bullied into silence, and the bullies were applauded. One fairly prominent female director actually stated several times in a row: "Let me make this very clear: I am not here as one of you. I am one of the boys, okay?"

Don't ask me to explain it. I still don't understand it. It was surreal, to put it mildly.

But when it was announced that our new DGA president Paris Barclay, National Executive Director Jay Roth and Western Executive Director Bryan Unger would attend the next meeting to inform us how the negotiations with the studios went and what they had achieved in regards to diversity hiring, I had to go.

Also, I do have the sticker on my fridge about "being the change you want to see in the world." 

Here are the points of the negotiation they shared with us:

1) The number of female directors working in film or TV has decreased and everybody finds this abysmal number embarrassing.

2) There were heated arguments about who's responsible. The studio tried to put the blame on the DGA and its own small number of female members, but the negotiation committee reminded the executives that a woman can only become eligible to join the guild if she gets hired by a signatory company.

3) A Warner executive stated, "I am not embarrassed about what my company does, but I am frustrated by the lack of progress when it comes to gender equality."

4) TV continues to hire 80% white males. The number of first-time directors breaking into TV is actually acceptable. Unfortunately, it's only white males who do it.

5) The hiring process or the qualifications/skill-set needed to book an episode cannot be defined. (Is there an animated "jerking off" emoji?)

6) Shonda Rhimes gets it.

7) CBS doesn't.

8) It was decided during the negotiations to change the wording regarding diversity hiring from "best efforts" to "work diligently." [Editor's note: Maria Giese also wrote a Women and Hollywood column regarding this mild-seeming but crucial shift in word choice.]

9) Nobody knows how to implement a successful diversity program. Many have tried and failed. SONY may have a plan that works.

10) The DGA needs to come up with ideas and present them by July.

Sigh.

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150 Comments

  • Keystone | April 13, 2014 11:52 AMReply

    Do what the white male directors do.

    Finance, film school and a short film or small-budget feature using your parent's money.
    Then, go down to the synagogue and talk with potential financiers about doing something bigger.

  • Moses | April 1, 2014 7:33 PMReply

    Wow...getting real about how 'unfair' life is to 'women'. At least you all can sleep with directors, CEO's and men to get your way. I'm a highly educated individual in business (but am a minority and worse of all everyone judges me by my looks which people think I am a Muslim...and for every step forward I am given by the corporate world I have to take 2 steps back for it. Hollywood? Become sexually involved with a FREE MASON and the flood gates shall open for all of you. I don't think women understand adversity at all...Having 5 sisters who can't go 2 months with out a mate - - women have the upper hand...you just are not applying your hand in the right direction...fighting Hollywood or being a whistle blower in the state of California is a big - No.No. All the attorneys, municipalities, tax boards, police are anti-civilian to begin with - - so getting involved with these entities is a lost cause...My advise is to unionize, attain your own financeers and always use a board of people from Israel...you'll get places if you do this...

  • Sarah | March 6, 2014 6:35 PMReply

    I'm an actress and could talk endlessly about similar issues with casting of females. A network show I was on had its own troubles with firing the female leads because they wanted to save money and thought that they could get by with only the male leads due to the show type only to have a fan backlash. Look, while the gender hiring disparity is real I don't think it helps to be bitchy in the argument. It frames you as a complainer rather than a problem solver. And we need optimistic problem solvers here.

    Also, the article does not address a very real fact that many women are also mothers. And while some would suggest that it shouldn't make a difference, well, it does ... unless you want to outsource your mothering. And being a director, like acting, requires ALL of you. ALL the time. For an extended time. With runaway productions, that also means if you work in TV you might be asked to sign a contract that takes you away from your family for several weeks. If you're a mother, you might not want to do that. (Let alone a father.) So, to talk about women's directors and their careers without bringing in the practical aspects of it all I feel is one sided.

    Additionally, if we talk about TV directing it really is a very long-term chase. The people in the pool to direct are the same people as the year before, and the year before that, etc. They are recycled and have seniority, so to speak. On a 22-episode TV series there are really only about 2-3 episodes that would allow for new blood to drop in. And who do you think they are going to choose? People who have directing experience as well as people they know. This means you have to get in the door and ask for mentoring/shadowing opportunities to get to know people and have them get to know you. And you need to constantly be working on film projects to showcase your work. It's a dedication to strategy and relationships, not chance. It's calculated. It's business.

  • Star Lawrence | February 18, 2014 10:12 AMReply

    Wow, many of these comments are snide! All the "retarded" refs, for example. I am a female trying to break into writing for animation--and the extremely talented (not sucking up) female directors of the genre--Brenda Chapman, Jennifer Lee, Betty Thomas--are just as hard to "get to" as the males. My past option and my Telly were for live action. Anyway, I am following this with interest. I see automatic sniffing at my age than my gender--or maybe that is a coverup. I don't even know anymore.

  • cjames | February 12, 2014 3:22 PMReply

    I'm so sick and tired of this feminist nonsense that is plaguing our society. Its women that are the sexist ones that are trying to make men obsolete in any profession. But if a man stands up and protects there rights women yell out "Your Sexist" or "You hate Women". But its ok for women to do it. There is a directors guild just for women. There are film festivals just for women. There are groups of women getting together and forming a circle so men don't get opportunities. I HAVE PROOF. I'm so fed up with feminist and feminist groups. I have a ton of male friends that are getting nowhere because of women. Up here in Canada our own union(ACTRA) has a woman president. What was the first thing she did? Can you guess? Its something when a guy was in charge never did. Thats he hint. Answer. Create a sexist Ad saying "Get Women Working". Unions are put into place to protect its members. Not to discriminate against. So QUIT thinking you women are so down trotting. You don't live in a 3rd world country. Then you'd have something to bitch about. I've been busting my Ass for years and still haven't broken in. Plus ever notice who survives horror films? Women. Or when they remake one what happens? The remake a whole film just to do role reversal(EVIL DEAD, The Hitcher, The THING etc etc etc). I think men should start fighting back because women are getting everything they want. Even guy films are gone. They ALWAYS have to have an Ass kicking woman in it. But yet chic flicks stay the stay the same(Some even man bash). So really do research. Feminist are even trying to block out mens health as well as there rights.

  • Maskoolio | February 13, 2014 4:20 AM

    So are you trolling or clinically retarded?
    It sounds like your setbacks in life have made you very bitter and need a scapegoat.
    To address what you said, the circles of women-only film festivals etc, are an attempt to redress the balance. (When 80% of the mainstream ignores you, you have to create your own space.)
    Try to read a little more. Also, if you did, you'd know it was down-trodden, not down-trotting.

    P.s. white male here.

  • Marc | February 11, 2014 3:59 PMReply

    I am an aspiring director looking to get more into the film industry in LA. I've been here for 6 months, and it's hard. I'm also a 23 year old white male with a great reel. Does this make things seem easier for me? No. It's a dog eat dog world out here, my boss is a woman and what I've seen is that anyone can make it, regardless of gender. You just need the connections, drive and luck. Or money.

  • Happy | January 31, 2014 3:16 AMReply

    From one difficult bitch to another... well done in laying it on the line.

  • Barbara Everett Heintz | January 22, 2014 12:16 AMReply

    I no absolutely nothing about directing, but coming from what was a woman's profession before I was able to live the dream of writing and to now have a Film Option on what I wrote--I was a University trained nurse who had started out on a track for medical school. That was a dinosaur ago, but I took a master's level class after graduation toward management, and I was very sad to learn that being a nurse manager usually always meant--Being a bitch to other women. Now I had a lot of managers who never had this class--God Bless Them, but I think part of the morass and apathy about women is still--We think we gotta' be like the men. On that day when a pregnant, pre-menopausal women becomes director of the DGA, then perhaps women can rejoice in this magnificent self which is, "Woman," A lot more effort has been put forward in Hollywood to make certain a gay person is part of a sit com than to raise the level of women as stars and directors. To be a woman breaking barriers with estrogen overflowing, still blessing her sister women, and causing testicular contractions just seems to be some kind of problem, so lay it on me and let me know why? Barbara Everett Heintz

  • Marcy | January 18, 2014 11:56 AMReply

    Love this article. Thank you for sharing a little of what is going on in the inside of the industry. I have been wanting to know. Please keep us posted about how things are going. Thanks for fighting.

  • peculiar patriot | January 17, 2014 11:41 PMReply

    it's so interesting to read how white people negotiate the politics of who speaks, how to speak, who should speak and myriad forms of censorship. i agree with this post wholeheartedly in identifying mr. etsy as a perfect example of true change in action. men MUST snatch up the gauntlet and follow suit. judd apatow in relation to lena dunahm is a prime example. at the same time, white women need to be as diligent on behalf of people of color as they're requesting that men be on behalf of them. there is enough injustice and too people advocating for their own self interest to exercise a little selflessness. and karmically, it's necessary.

  • Maskoolio | February 13, 2014 4:23 AM

    Yes, acknowledge that bigotry crosses borders like race and class and sex.

  • Zarya Rowland Bintz | January 17, 2014 9:47 PMReply

    So well put! Thanks for putting your experience out there. I've been thinking about how to express my frustration with the industry and your article nails it. I started out in cinematography in 1992 (photography in 1987) and quickly realized that I had to direct if I wanted to keep busy as no one would think about hiring a woman as a cinematographer. So I started writing producing and directing my own projects (including a 3D project shot on film in 1999). I've been making movies since 1992 but I don't stand a chance in hell of ever getting a job! I realized I had to be more proactive so I applied to the American Film Institute's Director's Workshop for Women thinking that even though the competition was probably stiff if I applied for 10 years in a row I had a 50/50 chance of getting in and proving myself enough to land a job. That was my thinking anyway until, after being rejected 2 years in a row (which I was totally expecting) I decided to go to the "open house" and see what the deal was. I had already written an email to the director of the program to find out what I could do to make my application better, with no response. The "open house" was actually a lecture and showing of one of the previous years participant's picture. During the lecture we were told that "less than 6% of films are directed by women" and that "f-stops are intimidating", as if to somehow explain away the problem as if it's caused by women! They then showed the film and it was a fine movie about a victim of domestic abuse. The director of the movie had very little previous experience in filmmaking and had hired a writer to write her idea. So what I came away from this with was that my experience as a director and background in cinematography was not what they were looking for. My lack of letters of recommendation the first year and my script formatting issues the second year were enough to completely eliminate me from their search for directors (I made an ally while there and she went over my past applications to tell me why I hadn't even gotten an interview). As far as I can tell my experience wasn't even considered. I have spent the months since this event last October processing what exactly happened and why do I feel so traumatized from it? I decided I couldn't possibly apply to the AfI again in good conscience and support them with my presence, should I actually get in, and I sent an email to my ally at the AFI explaining why I wasn't applying again. But I did not cc the director of the DWW, because I was afraid...and I have been wondering if I nailed the final nail into the coffin of my film "career" by choosing to boycott the AFI. Their recent list of 100 best movies of all time only made me feel better about my decision as it is really NOT a good list, but my desire for a career in film makes me think I shot myself in the foot. Thanks again for your bravery, Lexi, you inspired me to share my story...for better or for worse...

  • Dear You: The 1960s Are Over | January 17, 2014 9:13 PMReply

    "White male, oblivious to the affirmative-action bonus that came with the cradle?"

    Try white male, stabbed in the face multiple times by his parents, lived in the projects around actual dead-broke violent minorities for years, did landscaping for years with immigrants, and is part of the new Hollywood industry that is primed and ready to totally annihilate your silly moral crusade. (And will be gloriously doing it, one line of code at a time)

    But if we are going to generalize because we are "keeping it real", then allow me to continue the theme:

    No one cares about your stories because, thanks to technology that I make, everyone has the ability to be heard by the whole world, for better or for worse. You're in an over-saturated old media loaded with risk chasing too few opportunities. But since you're too emotionally unstable, (Not a bitch or a ditz, just simply too unenlightened) you'll never understand basic supply-and-demand interactions and will permanently prefer blaming white male straw men because you PR handler told you it gets a lot of comments on Tumblr.

    With that in mind, it is my absolute PRIVILEGE to be the first person to tell you this, Lexi: the 1960s are over. Adapt or die. If even Spielberg is saying the industry is over, it's not time to dig in and show how stubborn you are pursuing it. It's time to open up and show how adaptive you are.

    Or ignore this post entirely and go back to whatever feel-good crusade Obama told you to lay into people about. That's cool, too, bro. Tumblr is thattaway.

  • Maskoolio | February 13, 2014 4:30 AM

    So you had a hard life, and are a white male? Well I guess that definitely disproves the overwhelming evidence that on majority, you were born into a status that provided opportunities others would not see.
    Your poverty and shitty parents may have set you back in life, but don't let it excuse your refusal to acknowledge misogyny. Cinema as an old media does not excuse, explain or justify its 80% male, 87% white power elite. You need to stop living in the 1980's. Inequality is not, like, totally over, and ending your post with a 'thanks, Obama'? Genius!

  • Ellen Gavin | January 17, 2014 3:50 PMReply

    I wrote a blog on the same day as yours on the state of women in American theater. Lots of cross postings on Facebook of these two calls-to-arms. Thank you! Love to meet Lexi for further exploration/agitation! This comment section is not accepting a link, but if you go the Theater Communications Group Circle you can read it there, entitled: We've Had Enough.

  • Anonymous | January 17, 2014 3:01 PMReply

    I 100% agree that we need more women in film. My career in TV has been sculpted and basically created by powerful women. That being said, was this line very necessary;

    "Now, Kellan may rock a hair-do reminiscent of a famous genius and clearly he must be wicked smart, but as far as I know he's not uniquely gifted in the IQ department."
    Why lift his stature for equality to then undercut it with a side comment about his hair and intelligence?

    And to say you were ending the article with an opinion is quite false being that the whole article is an opinion. I understand the need to be aggressive because this is clearly an issue that must be resolved but I felt that you over indulged yourself in that stereotype you so clearly defined for yourself in earlier in the article.

  • B- | January 17, 2014 8:48 PM

    "So, never mind". Ending anything with "never mind" makes whatever you said before that irrelevant. Particularly online when you can just erase whatever it is you just said.

  • Fed_Up | January 17, 2014 6:18 PM

    I cannot stress enough how widely you missed her point. Did you read anything after that part of the article? Because not only did she not say he was stupidity (she only said he wasn't a genius - how is that an insult?), but her point was NOTHING OTHER than that you don't have to be a genius to implement gender diversity, you just have to mean it.

    Of course, reading the end of your comment makes me think that you were really looking for something to complain about, so, never mind.

  • Sarah | January 17, 2014 1:20 PMReply

    Women have to be permitted the same opportunities to direct films before films by women directors can be numerous enough to gauge whether they would garner attention and make a profit. What people are describing are symptoms of the problem, not the actual problem. The problem is sexism against women in the film industry, and it is well-documented.

    Women are not being given the green light as often because they are not men. It's not surprising men think this is fair and not discriminatory. They are ignorantly convinced it's due to women being lower-quality directors making lower-quality films. It's not. Does anyone really think Kangaroo Jack would have gotten out of the first meeting if the people who fund film-making were told a woman would be directing it? It's pants-on-head retarded how many mediocre films directed by men are given support while so few women can get their foot in the door. It's because of sexism, period.

    The root of the problem is in our society, like every other on the planet, men are the default, and the term "women" translates to "less than men". Girls and women are expected (with little choice) to identify with male-centric stories, while boys and men are not held to the same expectations about female-centric stories. If men had to deal with women as the protagonist as often as women deal with male ones, men would pitch a screeching fit.

  • Valdoria | January 17, 2014 12:31 PMReply

    Would love to see more female directors.. maybe then we could see real movies without pervert shots of boobs and women dressing and undressing. I just want to see a lovely story in film, not be offended.

  • ~G~ | January 17, 2014 12:20 PMReply

    The director's name isn't conjugated properly. She actually has a male name. Nominally, she is a man. Not calling attention away from the issue, it's still important, but it just made me chuckle.

  • Keith | January 17, 2014 3:18 AMReply

    Perhaps the imbalance is due to lack of *quality* women directors and not sexism.

  • Fed_Up | January 17, 2014 6:20 PM

    Maybe you could learn to read before you pretend that you have anything worthwhile to say.

  • Sarah | January 17, 2014 12:56 PM

    Maybe listening, and not speaking, ought to be your thing at present.

  • keith is illogical | January 17, 2014 11:19 AM

    KEITH

    Really? Do you have any reading comprehension skills whatsoever?

    You're arguing the imbalance is due to a "lack of quality women directors" even though, as the article states:

    "4) Gender discrimination in Hollywood goes far beyond women simply not getting the gig. It is reflected in movie budgets, P&A budgets, the size of distribution deals (if a female director's movie is lucky enough to score one), official and unofficial internship or mentorship opportunities, union eligibility, etc."

    The system is rigged to favor men, but you think women should be better or work harder to earn positions that they're not being offered?

    Really?

  • Ian | January 17, 2014 12:41 AMReply

    Follow. The. MONEY.
    Behind it all, HW is about money. If the work produced by female directors garners attention and that leads to profit, the industry will move in that direction. You can try and change minds... but changing spending habits will change the world a whole lot faster and it's a whole lot easier. Lena Dunham got her show on HBO because HBO saw the profit predictions, not because she's a woman.

  • Yea...right | January 17, 2014 9:24 PM

    Lena Dunham got her show because Judd Apatow saw a great movie called tiny furniture and decided to do everything he could to support her and get her into the door at hbo. Is she talented? Yeah. Would she have gotten an hbo show without Apatow? Probably not.

  • Now's the time | January 16, 2014 6:10 PMReply

    Great you've identified the problem
    Now get all those talented female directors, writers and producers …use those talents to form distribution networks…(this would be the time as distribution systems are greatly changing) form a Girls club so to speak, and supported, elevate and create films that the world wants to see.
    Be organised, creative and work hard. What better way to break through the glass ceiling then to ignore the establishment and build your own.

  • Dumb | January 17, 2014 2:26 PM

    That's the spirit. Deal with discrimination through more discrimination.

  • anonymous | January 16, 2014 9:27 PM

    not good advice. "girls' clubs" are always looked down upon and considered inferior. why not make the "boys' club" into an "everyone club" instead.

  • Robin | January 16, 2014 12:57 PMReply

    I see this type of comment all the time. The writer says "the more women that stand up the less chance there is for one women to be held responsible for speaking truth to power" Of course more women should stand up. But could the MEN stand up too? This society of ours has a blindspot on this matter. How for instance did civil rights start to change society? Part of the success was based on white people stepping up for the cause. Why is it always assumed that the women, alone, have to work so hard to change things. The men and women need to join arms to move the boulder down the road.

  • Andrew | January 16, 2014 11:54 AMReply

    I think what I'm missing here is an argument that Hollywood (an amorphous concept at best) is making inferior products and therefore, and most importantly, making less money because of pervasive discrimination against women. That is what they do, or should, care about - the bottom line. It's kind of a chicken-and-egg thing too - do women not pursue filmmaking as a career nearly as frequently as men (judging by film school admissions, not that this is the only route to a filmmaking career by any means) because they don't see high profile female filmmakers, or are there few high profile female filmmakers because not nearly as many pursue it as a career?

  • peter | January 16, 2014 10:39 AMReply

    Wow. This blog takes victimhood to a whole new level. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, Lexi. Perhaps Punisher: War Zone is the reason why you can't find work.

  • Fed_Up | January 17, 2014 6:23 PM

    Yeah, because M. Night Shamalayan has never worked a day in his life after ...just about everything he's ever made.

  • drunkmosquito | January 16, 2014 7:43 PM

    Yes, only a victim would beat an entire tournament's worth of seasoned fighters without one loss. Get off your ass and do something with your life instead of whining at people who are trying to make a difference.

  • Bill | January 16, 2014 11:58 AM

    Male directors make crap all the time and still get rehired. I'm a white male who works I the film and television industry and this problem over VERY evident on every project I work on. Open your eyes and read some of the numbers-they don't lie

  • Therealgoldelox | January 16, 2014 9:53 AMReply

    Renee Saviour Thanks for posting this very important article. I think that the writer/director/blogger Alexis Alexander is bold and will probably do better than most because of it. If things haven't changed since the 70s for women in Hollywood we need to be bolder.The fact that she is using her notoriety as a Oscar-Nominated Director is particularly important as people ( especially white male producers who aspire to get nominated for an Oscar too) may stop to listen. And that is who needs to fight for more women to see real changes. It's not a easy thing to do on your own as in doing so people label you as difficult to work with or blacklist you. The topic about race and gender is hot right off the heals of the Golden Globes where white males won every single award that was not gendered. So all of the writing/ directing categories went to white men except the best film which went ironically to a black male Brit who made a film about slavery (so everyone in the industry should know what oppression looks like if they were oblivious before). I find it exhausting to have this conversation about sexism and racism in the film industry as I know now (through my many conversations who are experts on this topic) that racism and sexism for that matter are learned behaviour that people use in order to keep/maintain their privilege in society. Racism and sexism is irrational. This behaviour is unpredictable as people change the rules in order to maintain their power. So even there are some changes, people eventually make changes so that things go back to how they were. That is why this is exhausting. The other reason why it is exhausting is because it is institutionalize. When I go to pitch a film project 90% of the time I am pitching to a white man who may or may not understand privilege or power. We don't know where he stands on the issue of diversity all we know is that what we are creating doesn't fit the mandate of their studio. Then some white male first time director will get the job for being "innovative." Having said that, most of my hires have come from female producers. The best thing we can do as filmmakers is be bold and make it about money. Build an audience, make our films and make money. Stop trying to fit into a system and institution that is sexist and racist but make your own. Etsy founder ( a white male who gets it) is doing just that and probably laughing all the way to the bank. That is the only way.

  • David Miller | January 16, 2014 9:19 AMReply

    Hollywood is the global capital of "mental masturbation session(s) about" -- fill in the blank -- of the cause that would truly help creative talented people without power or money. This puts women especially at the bottom of the heap unless you can be made -- a token fill in the blank cause -- that would help a white man raise his PR profile or make him more money. It's the game that feeds the engine that eats artist/creatives/producers as fuel. There will be no change in Hollywood until there are paradigm changing companies (no mental masturbation) that sincerely integrate change into how they do business above the line and make meaningful connections with people (Customers) that can transform their bottom line. I believe there is a 99% chance that that change will NOT come from Hollywood.

  • Chaysee Lane | January 16, 2014 7:04 AMReply

    ZZZZZZZZZ

  • MickyTheKnife | January 16, 2014 6:23 AMReply

    It's true that an average dude will get the gig before an exceptional chic - an ALL fields except bartending. But with all the energy put into "breaking into Hollywood", why aren't the overlooked (aka women, people of color) taking that same intensity and creating something new/outside the white male-driven Hollywood system? We called it Independent Film in the 90's. Now call it Outside the USA Film. It would be nice to see Annapurna champion a female director, though.

  • James May | January 16, 2014 5:05 AMReply

    1. There is no doubt in my mind women can do anything men can do when it comes to making films and TV shows.
    2. Selling stuff on Etsy isn't making art.
    3. Once you start race/gender pie-charting art, you can forget about it - it's dead. Because think of where that road logically leads.

    If you want to see where it leads, look at the hard-core science-fiction and fantasy literary community. They are literally pie-charting content on blogs. The largest publisher of SFF in English has a reviewer who purposefully and admittedly reads more women's books and reviews accordingly. Awards are nominated to fix the gender-gap, though no one will admit it. Reviewers are reading 50% female and lamenting if they don't. Female authors are recommending books purely based on gender and race and even gender expression. White and male is out of style and part of a "dying culture." If you think white and male is oppressing you, are you going to recommend their books, nominate them for awards? Of course you will not.

    Equality expresses itself. It does not wait for or need permission. I don't know what you call pie-charting art - I call it failure. People say diversity isn't a quota and the talent is there and all of that. Of course when you're literally pie-charting art with graphs that is the very definition of a quota, and talent discriminated on the basis of race and gender isn't really "there" is it?

    Go ahead down that path. I'm not coming along. The real world doesn't work like a pie-chart, neither does success or the National Basketball Association or middle weight boxing or pro hockey or the entire world.

  • drunkmosquito | January 16, 2014 7:50 PM

    There's one of these comments on any article about gender/racial inequality in any entertainment industry. Somehow, creativity in film is able to survive the two-hour standard movie time, the three-act storytelling structure, the marketing and the money and celebrity culture--but the minute you start deliberately seeking out diversity in hiring, THAT, THAT is the death of art.

  • Darcy | January 16, 2014 1:44 AMReply

    Thank you so much for this article! It means a lot to me that someone is finally saying this. I'm so sick of certain types of men in Hollywood who like to think of themselves as liberal but develop an argumentative tone the minute someone wants to talk about this. And they have rarely if ever studied this issue at all, they just like to mention their own experiences which they don't ever understand are built on white-men-hiring-white-men-and-only-ever-caring-about-white-men's-experiences. I run into this at work all the time. They don't even bother to try to see the other side and they are almost universally contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian. Ugh. It's old and tired and I'm sick of it.

  • Justin | January 15, 2014 10:43 PMReply

    The article is well written and it makes valid points. My anecdotal evidence tells me this though. I've probably worked with 100 directors as a DP. 10-15 of them were women. None of which were completely prepared. They hadn't studied as long, they didn't know as much and they just weren't great at being directors. That is only my experience but I am yet to meet a "great" female director. I know lots of guys that are great but for one reason or another I see that the female directors I have come across are much more interested in calling themselves directors and being the ones in charge than learning their craft. That has been my experience. The guys run the gamut and plenty of them are poor directors and some are great. I'm yet to meet any great lady directors and it's always for the same reasons. At the end of the day, the studios want to make money. If more women were making movies that people wanted to pay money for then they would hire more of them. That's simple economics. The old guard means nothing if it doesn't generate a profit.

  • MickyTheKnife | January 16, 2014 6:16 AM

    It would also be correct to assume that you get better at your craft through experience, and if the opportunities for gaining that experience are few, then you do the math. You're not describing FEMALE directors. You're describing less experienced directors. I've seen the same behaviour in MALE directors, and I've seen it in myself. The more you practice, the better you are at what you do. So give women more directing gigs, and over time you'll see a higher level of execution.

  • Heather Atkins | January 16, 2014 5:20 AM

    I understand your point but if you work with 100 directors and only 10 of them are female and 90 are male and you say the women are not that great, but some of the men are great. Do you no think that if you worked with 50 men and 50 women and there was not a biased to hire men you would end up working with 5 great men 5 great women and then 45 of each being not that great.

  • lawgirl | January 15, 2014 9:16 PMReply

    Thank you for a factually supported, timely, accurate piece of work. I apologize for all the mouth breathing, cowardly white men who looked up from their bags of Doritos and Mountain Dew jugs to take the time to berate you from the bowels of their mothers' basements. Anyone can be an anonymous expert from behind a computer screen, but none of them have supported their vitriol with logic and facts as you have used. It is all they have left--perhaps that foretells a changing tide in film and elsewhere.

  • James May | January 29, 2014 7:05 AM

    My "basement" has been ducking birdshot and arrest photographing the Egyptian Revolution these 3 years. Your inclusion of the word "white" says mountains about profiling and provincial basements and what it is you really advocate, and it ain't justice or equality. There is no real difference between what you wrote and mentioning "fried chicken" and "watermelons." However you'd have to understand principle in order to get that.

  • Peter | January 16, 2014 10:29 AM

    Great stereotyping!

  • Chris King | January 15, 2014 9:14 PMReply

    There is nothing inherently 'ballsy' about directing a film. It requires inspiration, organization, and empathy. Women often beat men at all those games. Perhaps the strongest argument for 50%+ directors is that a lot of women watch films (not just 13 year old boys). That suggests that it is critical to have more women -producers-. Folla the dolla. Women own a majority of the wealth in this country. What's the plan to round them up, put "the check on the table" as Joan Didion's wrote, and hire the women to make the flics women will pay in big numbers to see?

  • A Jethro | January 15, 2014 7:57 PMReply

    Kathryn Bigelow never whined like this author does. She just said "I want to make movies" and she does it extremely well. And Ms. Bigelow never played the gender card during her career.

  • Fed_Up | January 17, 2014 6:28 PM

    Yes, it's always whining when you don't like the truth. And, given your obvious disdain for the subject, it's probably true that you have no idea what all Bigelow has had to say on the subject.

  • drunkmosquito | January 16, 2014 7:56 PM

    If you're a woman talking about gender discrimination, you're "playing the gender card."
    If you're a man talking about gender discrimination, you're "white knighting" or "trying to get laid."
    If you're a POC talking about racial discrimination, you're "playing the race card."
    If you're a white person talking about racial discrimination, you've got "white guilt."

    But I'm sure these problems will all solve themselves as long as we never talk about them.

  • peter | January 16, 2014 10:54 AM

    You're correct.

  • Korka | January 15, 2014 7:29 PMReply

    Thank you Lexi for a healthy, well-educated and informative post.

  • Jack | January 15, 2014 6:57 PMReply

    My (male and female) team's reaction? We're going to send you a great script and hope you'll consider. We know you like to write your own...but fingers crossed...

  • Reed | January 15, 2014 6:47 PMReply

    I love when sexists post comments. You just prove the point of feminists over and over and over again that there isn't equality. Your negativity fuels the fire of activism, so keep on trollin'.

  • Fed_Up | January 17, 2014 6:28 PM

    Brilliant observation.

  • lawgirl | January 15, 2014 9:09 PM

    Thirded. Enthusiastically.

  • Korka | January 15, 2014 7:22 PM

    Seconded.

  • oh really | January 15, 2014 6:39 PMReply

    The idiotic and misogynist comments in this comments section only prove the director's points.
    Stay home and wank off in mama's basement, boys.
    No one wants you.

  • rottenOpportunisticwomen | January 15, 2014 6:34 PMReply

    This article makes me want to not hire women. Good job.

  • drunkmosquito | January 16, 2014 8:05 PM

    Yeah I totally bet you were a full time volunteer for RAINN before you read this.

  • Carmela | January 15, 2014 7:21 PM

    Actually, I think the reasoning behind your choice of username is why you don't want to hire women.

  • wemuststopunromanticbitches | January 15, 2014 6:32 PMReply

    We must stop unromantic bitches who want to order us around. As young men we have had to deal with female kindergarten teachers, then bitchy elementary school teaches. Is it to much to ask once our balls have dropped we're allowed to finally give the orders? F*cken hoe go make me pancakes I'm the DIRECTOR NOW! Look at me, look a me....I'm the Director. HOE!

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  • wintermute | January 18, 2014 4:09 PM

    Hang on, I think I'm sensing that... you may be the director?

    Better say it a few more times, just to make sure people heard, or your inferiority complex may go unnoticed! It could be tragic. There could be tears.

  • Facedownassup | January 15, 2014 6:27 PMReply

    I hate to break it to this self proclaimed bitch who we are all giving way too much attention BUT....woman have it MUCH EASIER.

  • peter | January 16, 2014 10:52 AM

    Is there any way for you to make your point without resorting to calling the author a 'bitch'?

  • TY | January 15, 2014 5:28 PMReply

    I think this would be easier to swallow if the hundreds of male filmmakers I know had gotten opportunities to direct, but they don't. The Hollywood studio system is an extremely small, exclusive club. Much of it is based on nepotism & favoritism. Much of that is based on your family(ie wealth) & what school you went to(again wealth.)

    I have worked for many female directors as an Assistant Director and when they walk on set, the feeling of here comes the "bitch" or the "ditz" by the crew is nonexistent & would not be tolerated.
    L. Anderson's gripe with the Hollywood system is really a gripe with our global financial system. It's not racism or sexism at the root...
    It's CAPITALISM....
    Whoever has the $, has the power. Whoever has the power will stop at nothing to keep it. That means not only will L. Anderson be short changed but also the rest of the 99% of the population. That means black, WHITE, yellow, female & MALE.
    ALL of us are in the same boat as L. Anderson, she just wants to have her own dingy.

  • M | January 15, 2014 7:41 PM

    Exactly :)

  • FacedownASSup | January 15, 2014 6:24 PM

    "First you get the money...
    Then you get the power....
    Then you get the woman...."
    Scarface written by Oliver Stone haha

  • Jess | January 15, 2014 5:26 PMReply

    Great article, but let's not forget that this sexism extends well beyond directing. Female writers cinematographers, composers, and editors are treated similarly. I have been to at least five meetings where I've been asked, in all seriousness, why I want to write action or sci-fi instead of romantic comedies. It's insane, this idea that there is some kind of female-genre.
    There are only three solutions I can think of: 1) mandating diversity hiring despite the privileged whining, 2) somehow hold the "male allies" to they're freaking word, and 3) get the female execs and show runners to demand parity. I'm looking at you, Katherine Bigalow.

  • Female filmaker hassler | January 15, 2014 4:57 PMReply

    Being a director it's fun and boys like to have fun and hardly share their toys. It's like that with all the fun jobs... Think about it... Even in the cook business... All the "best" chefs are all men... Share the toys and the cream dudes.

  • Wrath of Colin | January 15, 2014 4:21 PMReply

    It seems the writer of this article has a hatred for white males because they're not, well, women. Everyone is discriminated against in the workplace, regardless of industry. I have been a victim of it when outnumbered by females. But the writer has already covered this argument by belittling any 'reverse discrimination' comments. But that doesn't stop it from being a real issue.

    Personally, I will watch a movie regardless of who wrote or directed it, I find nudity and sex scenes tend to slow down the pace and I don't care whether the protagonist is a man or a woman so long as the story is entertaining.

    I imagine women do encounter many serious difficulties in this industry, but then so does everyone. Maybe instead of belittling men, as if it is our fault you were born female, you could write an article in which you point out discrimination in general in an industry that is willing to toss anyone away once they make a movie that was less successful than their last.

    We are all in this together after all, and not every white male was born with an 'affirmative-action bonus,' nor do we have a 'three-hundred-thousand-dollar education.'

    I would say this article is quite hateful and sexist towards white males, but then that would be reverse discrimination, and we know how you feel about that.

  • Annamoth | January 16, 2014 9:34 PM

    Uh, when does she "belittle men"? She makes many great points that have nothing to do with insulting men. Maybe consider why you feel so threatened and affronted.

  • drunkmosquito | January 16, 2014 8:08 PM

    @Chelle - I have a feeling he copy-pastes that on every article about gender discrimination he find.

    Also he does not know what the word "discrimination" means if he thinks it means "tossing away anyone who makes a movie less successful than their last."

  • Chelle | January 16, 2014 11:48 AM

    I don't think you actually read the article....

  • Okay then! | January 15, 2014 4:15 PMReply

    Magic happened at Etsy- 500% percent more women... what did he do?

    My 2 cents- I found that getting in as a lovely young woman was hard work but doable. It is the staying in your chosen career as a filmmaker...that is the real trick for women. Telling the guys at the studio that you have kids at home is like saying you are a MOM and not an artist who cares about yourself and ideas- it's like you became an idiot overnight. Being 55- you had better just stay at home. No respect from the guys anymore. In fact there are other girls on the horizon. The trick being played on women is that they pay their dues at studios through their 20's and are ready for the big time as directors but the 30's is also child rearing time and there is really the big roadblock because nobody wants to hire a mom to direct their movie.

    I think the only way real change can happen if women actually cared about each other and don't look at themselves as lone islands up against a some kind of wildcard game watching fellow soldiers fall around you. If you ever get into a position where the choice to hire is yours hire an older women and see yourself in her in a few years. If there is a really pretty woman hire her don't be jealous that the oxygen will be taken from your jetpack. If there is a mom hire her! She has learned to multitask like no ones business. So these different people are all women who are talented and are in fact women... which is what is being talked about here- right?

  • Shaddup | January 15, 2014 3:34 PMReply

    Waaaaaaaaah! Women should get more of this! Men should get less! Shaddup. Hollywood is difficult for everyone, not just women. Women are in plenty of positions of power now and even they don't hire women. Women buy plenty of tickets to movies, yet there is no outcry to see more female directed movies from them. Why? Because men are obviously better at directing and Hollywood politics. It's science. Do your work and shaddup.

  • Carmela | January 15, 2014 7:27 PM

    "Do your work and shaddup."

    Thank you for helping to illustrate the attitude the author is describing here.

  • facedownassup | January 15, 2014 6:29 PM

    Keep your face down and your ass up an you'll go far in this town! That goes for both Sexes! LMFAO!

  • Getbacksexistscum | January 15, 2014 4:06 PM

    Sounds like male tears over here. Women are not in plenty of positions of power, that is the whole point... No out-cry from women buying tickets so men must be better at directing? LOL can't argue with that "logic". We better tell Kathryn Bigelow and Sofia Coppola to give their Oscars back, better strip Claire Denis and Agnes Varda of their Professorships of film ....because they have a vagina. Yip gotta love that science. Hollywood may be difficult for everyone, but not for men because their gender is deemed inferior.

  • trish marbury | January 15, 2014 4:04 PM

    & therein lies the problem. attitudes from clowns like you who refuse to see past your own prejudices.

  • Tex Shelters | January 15, 2014 3:01 PMReply

    A little too self referential in the beginning. The topic women directors and their lack of opportunities, not whether the author is funny or not.

    Moreover, while the point is made a few more statistics to back up the statements would make this more powerful. Okay, 2 of 100 top grossing films were directed by women. That his home. So, how many top TV directors are women, how many (zero as far as I know) episodes of ANY Law and Order show were directed by women, how many women graduate from film school. And a paragraph about how women are not only underrepresented as directors, but throughout the industry, would help.

    Thanks!

    PTxS

  • Audrey Ewell | January 15, 2014 8:54 PM

    I'm already familiar with all those stats. I'm guessing many of the other women here are as well. Maybe you guys who aren't paying attention to information that is readily available and widely publicized need to do some of the work. But since we're hand-holding today: an equal number of men and women graduate from film school. That's where gender parity in our industry ends. The information is readily available. You just need to think it matters enough to read it.

  • Jean Louise | January 15, 2014 2:54 PMReply

    I am a woman who has worked in film and TV for the past ten years. I've worked mostly as an actress and an independent feature film producer. Over the years, I have worked on hundreds of different sets, for commercials, print, film, network TV, cable TV, web series, and NEVER ONCE have I ever had the pleasure of working with a female director.
    As an independent feature film producer I work with a mostly male crews. On my last project, I was astonished to have my 1 AD scold me like a child in front of a group of my employees during an early production meeting. The key grip quietly reminded this guy, I would be signing his checks. Nevertheless I had to let the 1AD go, after a string of other issues related to his job performance. It's not that this guy was incompetent, he just didn't feel like doing his best work for me.
    These days I write, produce and direct shorts for YouTube, an amazingly democratic platform that provides everyone with the ability to share there stories with a worldwide audience. I still work on features, as a writer. I author all of my screenplays under an androgynous pen name.

  • Katt | January 15, 2014 2:38 PMReply

    For what ever you might think of this director personally, she is on the money in her statements. I cross TV/Film and theatre worlds and they are all the same when it comes to female directors. The powers that be like to complain that there are no women, but yet when new opportunities arise, low and behold no women are on the go to list. I know just as many "difficult" male directors, and yet they get labeled eccentric, and focused on the art....and hired over and over. No one is saying you need to work with difficult people, but it seems to be a cop out that women get tagged as difficult sooner than men. I was a camera op for 10 years prior to directing and once I proved I could lift and run cables like everyone else and my images were beautiful I got work. It seems much more difficult to break into steady work as a director even with my camera/DP pedigree.

  • Alicja Pahl | January 15, 2014 2:21 PMReply

    well hahaha what shall I say. I am a female cinematographer and after a while I realized that when I got a call for work, from someone I didn't know, the introduction had allways been: "Hey, ... I would like to have you in this project because you are a woman, yeah and you do really good images...." I wonder if guys also get the same introduction: "Hey, well I called your number because you are a man and yes well you do great stuff...."
    Doing Images or film or building bridges is asexual or do you really need to be a cowboy to shoot a western?

  • mapzilla | January 15, 2014 2:02 PMReply

    Why is none of this surprising? I have always gotten the impression most self-claimed male feminsits, manginas, etc. are really closet pigs. As long as they can garner the favor of females, there is no limit to the amount of stupid small talk, fake interest, and pandering politically astute men will convey.

    My favorite quote regarding this type of man,"I don't like nice people, I like tough, honest people." Do women REALLY want tough, honest love? I don't think so. WINNER: liberal a**-kisser

  • S.S. | January 15, 2014 1:53 PMReply

    Everyone realizes that Lexi is one of the hardest directors to work with male or female right? She's arrogant and untrustworthy. $$ people will look past this if she creates good work but she has had chances and it's been subpar at best. No one is entitled to their next movie.
    Her thoughts here have merit in a global sense but are laughable when compared to her own career.

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