Variety reported on Tuesday that 21st Century Fox would this week launch a mentoring program for female film directors. The program will last five weeks and have twenty participants. At the end of the five weeks, five finalists will be selected to receive additional mentoring and funding for another 10 months. Fox’s announcement directly tackles the major problem that Hollywood has with women in film.
The statistics on women working in film are easily available and endlessly dismal. In the same article Variety writes that “Women comprised 6% of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2013, a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2012, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.” Whether in front or behind the camera, women are a disappearing in our media. In a world that is more and more dominated by our media consumption, whether it be film, television, social media platforms or youtube stars, representation matters more than ever.
On-screen, the numbers are heartbreaking. According to a study done by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media 2.42 male characters are depicted to every one female character and male characters spend the majority of the time speaking. Women’s voices are literally not being heard. With the vast majority of writers, directors, producers and actors being male, is it any wonder? Behind the camera, facts like only one woman in the past five years has been hired twice for major studio releases (Anne Fletcher: The Proposal and The Guilt Trip), highlight the lack of opportunities women face in the film business.
What all of this depressing data means is that there are almost no women stories being told and those who are telling them are men. Women are not in control of their own representation when studios even bother to tell our stories. Programs like Fox’s are desperately needed. Having women contribute to the stories coming out of Hollywood can only add to the national and international dialogue that film opens us all to. Having more women both in front of and behind the camera is good for everyone.