A new study released last week by Anna Lupien and Francine Descarries, researchers at the Université du Québec à Montréal in partnership with the Réalisatrices équitables an association of female filmmakers in the region found that it's very difficult for female filmmakers and that "women direct a disproportionately small number of the features made in our province." The interesting thing to note is that these numbers are still bad even though there are two agencies who fund filmmaking in the region.
While the study reported that women make up 50% of the students in the film schools (a number consistent in the US) they directed only a handful of films last year.
Here's the research:
Between 700 and 900 films were made in Quebec before the end of 2007 (they can't get an exact figure).
Of those films, around 100 were directed by women.
48 different women directed those 100 films.
Only 3 women have made more than 4 films.
26 of the the 48 women only made one film- showing how hard it is to build a sustainable career.
One note: It matters if a producer is a woman - Female producers tend to be more open to projects with female directors. ("female producers submitted proposals for films directed by women 53 per cent of the time between 2004 and 2007; male producers submitted proposals for women’s films just 16 per cent of the time.")
Here's what researcher Lupien said:
It’s a fight every time. (A director) can’t say she didn’t get (funding) because she’s a woman. Women say they don’t know how to pinpoint the problem. They’re scared of being labelled feminists. There’s a myth of equality, but we’re not there yet.
What's good about the study which I can't read because I don't read French is that they also came up with some solutions.
• Adopting a policy wherein neither men’s nor women’s films could receive less than 40 per cent or more than 60 per cent of the agencies’ overall budget.
• Tripling the funding for independent feature films
• Abolishing performance-based bonuses for films, which prioritize commercial success over cultural content and international acclaim;
• Starting a co-operative for the distribution of women’s feature films;
• Creating a tax credit for films directed by women;
• Abolishing the divisions between independent and private sectors in SODEC and Telefilm’s funding; and
• Developing a campaign to promote female filmmakers.
Some of the ideas above are not transferable to other regions, but several are including, the tax incentives and creating a co-op to distribute women's films. I think that might be a great place to start here in the US.
Where are the female film directors? (Montreal Gazette)