Diversity in film has been a topic on many people’s minds in recent years. With Kathryn Bigelow being the last woman nominated for a Best Directing Oscar back in 2006, it comes as no surprise that gender inequality in film is still an issue now.
Northern Irish director and screenwriter Mary McGuckian comes in at number 7 on the BFI’s top director’s list, the only woman included in the top ten. McGuckian manages to sit in first place among female directors in the UK, releasing five films between 2003 and 2013. A total of five filmmakers, including Bend It Like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha and Fishtank director Andrea Arnold, weigh in in second place with three films apiece, ranking in 34th position out of all British filmmakers. The lack of female directors is not a uniquely British issue, with a 2015 study revealing that only 9% of the USA’s top grossing movies featured a female director. The same study also explained that only ‘33% of films 0 or 1 woman in the roles considered.’ Various associations have founded movements to promote female directed films, including LA’s Women in Film with their 52 Films By Women pledge, which urges audiences to watch one film directed by a woman a week for a calendar year.
In the British film industry, women are far better represented in producing roles than the director’s chair. Almost a quarter of the top UK producers (namely, those who have produced at least 11 feature films between 2003 and 2013) are women, with Tessa Ross, ex-Film4 head, clocking in as the second largest producer in the UK. Ross’ credits, which include the Academy Award winning features 12 Years a Slave and Slumdog Millionaire, produced 47 feature films in the past decade. Although Ross may have been the second most successful producers in the UK, she is the only woman included in the BFI’s Top Ten UK Producers list in 2013. Liza Chasin, producer of Love Actually and The Theory of Everything, just misses the top ten with a hefty 24 films produced between 2003 and 2013.
Female screenwriters on the other hand fail to make the BFI’s Top 10 list of screenwriters. Kick-Ass’ Jane Goldman and Suffragette’s Abi Morgan may be the top female screenwriters in the UK but are only in twelfth position overall. The only woman who trumps their credits is British novelist and Harry Potter author JK Rowling who, although credited for creating the stories behind one of film’s most successful franchises, has only had one screenwriting credit for 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The issue of gender inequality in the film industry is one that still needs attention even in 2017. Despite many film reboots with female casts, including the upcoming Ocean’s Eight, there is still a disparity behind the scenes. With stars like Jada Pinkett-Smith believing that the issue sits with a lack of opportunity to women in film, some female filmmakers have taken action in order to give opportunities to more women in there productions. In 2016 it was announced that a non-profit production company entitled We Do It Together would launch to produce films with a focus on female empowerment. The production company includes an advisory board of female film professionals including American director Catherine Hardwicke and actresses Jessica Chastain and Juliette Binoche. The company hopes to give emerging equal opportunities and help end Hollywood’s gender discrimination.