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Women Directors and Why Language Matters

By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood June 24, 2013 at 10:38AM

A couple of weeks ago I read that the two male directors -- Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg -- of Kon-Tiki which was nominated for best foreign language film got the gig of directing the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
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Sam Taylor-Johnson

A couple of weeks ago I read that the two male directors -- Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg -- of Kon-Tiki which was nominated for best foreign language film got the gig of directing the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.  Here's a line from the Deadline story that announces the gig: "They made a lot of movie with a little money and showed they knew how to shoot on the water."

These are the latest dudes who make small movies and get kicked up to franchise level.  Other members of that club include Marc Forster who made Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland and was propelled up to a Bond movie and the newest zombie film starring Brad Pitt, and Marc Webb director of 500 Days of Summer who is now the director of the Spiderman franchise.  And I'm sure there are many more.

As we reported last week, Sam Taylor-Johnson is directing 50 Shades of Grey, the first film in what I'm sure the studio will hopefully become a lucrative trilogy.  So I have to say I was disheartened to read this headline from the NY Times entitled: "Relative Unknown Chosen to Direct Fifty Shades"

Why is she portrayed as a relative newcomer male directors are looked at differently?  Is it because we have no context for women being propelled into bigger budgeted films?  It is perfectly normal for men to jump from relative obscurity to big picture deal.  And be real.  Ms. Taylor-Johnson is no novice.  She has a full body of creative work under her belt.  First, she has made a successfully reviewed feature, Nowhere Boy.  She also made a short.  She was mentored by Anthony Minghella, and she had a hugely successful career as a photographer and has done many installations before she became a filmmaker.  That type of work is embraced in male creatives, as is making commercials, but it does not have the same credibility for women.

As I keep saying, language matters, a woman is a relative newcomer and men are never seen that way, they are seen as entitled to these jobs.  

Kon-Tiki Helmers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg Land Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 (Deadline)

Relative Unknown Chosen to Direct ‘Fifty Shades’ (NY Times)

This article is related to: Sam Taylor-Johnson, 50 Shades of Grey, Women Directors


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