Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Guest Post: Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret

by Rachel Feldman
October 4, 2012 2:00 PM
  • |

Becoming a director is not an easy road for anyone, male or female. It’s a destination job with no prescribed ladder to climb and everyone arrives from his or her own, unique path – though it’s mostly white men who accomplish the journey.  If we ever hope to change the status quo, we must create dynamic programs that support diversity - not bogus, shadowing programs, but genuine job-creating mechanisms for accomplished, seasoned professionals.

Of course there are no simple answers and as in any movement, even the downtrodden don’t know the best way forward.  Many advocate political activism while others are fearful of creating an angry, negative impression.  But gaining the women’s vote, the labor movement and civil rights didn’t happen without a fight and if we women are ever going to make a change we have to be willing to make some noise.

Certainly, there are a handful of women directors who thrive at the highest level and at every mention of diversity their names are brandished like flags creating a false illusion of improvement. We applaud and celebrate these women but a few women who work again and again is not true forward momentum.

Years ago, during a heated industry meeting regarding the fight to increase employment for women directors, Victoria Hochberg, a life-long warrior in that cause, witnessed Mel Brooks stand up at a crucial moment to defend the women. “You are nit-picking and pettifogging these women into the shit house!” he said. With his words still resonating, the chairman banged his gavel and a vote was taken.  The women prevailed. After all, Mr. Brooks’ own wife, Anne Bancroft was a brilliant director herself and he knew first-hand the sweeping, nonsensical prejudice women directors face.

USC’s School of Cinematic Arts student body is currently half female and that’s thrilling but when these young women enter the work force they will not be walking onto a level playing field.  The only way this will change is if YOU make that change. Do it for your wives, daughters, friends and sisters. Do it because it’s right. The answer is simple - hire women directors.


Rachel Feldman is a DGA director, a WGA writer, an adjunct Professor in Directing at The USC School of Cinematic Arts MFA program, and co-chair of the Women’s Steering Committee of the Directors Guild of America. You can reach her at where she will be delighted to provide a customized list of directors to suit your needs.

  • |

More: Women Directors, Television, Sexism

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • Tye Lombardi | November 3, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    Wow! Thanks for the info about it ONLY ABC? Why not NBC or CBS or any other studio? What a great concept! Now if we could only level it for all women...not just directors. Writing and ADing and every other department could clearly benefit!

  • Jenn | October 25, 2012 6:15 AMReply

    My pick for the movie Fifty shades of Grey to Play Christian grey is Matt Bomer. You can find more information on

  • Liz Rizzo | October 8, 2012 10:38 PMReply

    Wow, I would have thought that would be a more effective incentive. How interesting. Thanks for the response!

  • Liz Rizzo | October 8, 2012 10:09 AMReply

    Has the DGA considered a program that would allow television programs to hire one or two first-time television directors each season at below DGA minimum? Seems like that would create a financial incentive to take risks?

  • rachel | October 8, 2012 12:33 PM

    Hey Liz, actually the DGA has an agreement with ABC called BREAKAGE where they cover the entire cost of the director, as long as he or she (all diversity) have not directed there in over 2 years, or something along that time line. The issue is, it's not enough of an incentive and the network, studios and the DGA themselves don't promote it or push it enough. It's just not enough. Thanks for responding!

  • Maria Giese | October 5, 2012 2:32 PMReply

    This is such an important piece on what is right at the heart of the striking under-representation of women directors in Hollywood. Thanks for publishing it, IndieWire!

  • Vickie | October 5, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    Love this post -- especially the part about the realities of the "industry pipeline" and the dire necessity of creating "genuine job-creating mechanisms" vs. "bogus, shadowing programs." It's a relief to see that leaders at places like USC are talking about these issues publicly, along with possible solutions. It makes it all a bit easier to swallow knowing that there is someone up there who cares enough to speak up...

  • Linn | October 5, 2012 10:57 AMReply

    Ms. Feldman, great post. Thank you for the "keep on keeping on."

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Top Designers Refused to Make Melissa ...
  • Guest Post: Going Back to School with ...
  • Infographic: Women Directors in the ...
  • Male Privilege Watch: Man With No Directing ...
  • Meet Outlander, the Anti-Game of Th ...
  • 8 Queer Women Films to Watch in 201 ...