2017 has been a great time for women in the film industry. Along With hits like Lady Bird, Wonder Woman, and Detroit, the 2018 Oscars also marks the first time a woman has ever been nominated for Best Cinematography, with Rachel Morrison’s work on Mudbound.
A 2016 study from the San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found women only made up five percent of working cinematographers, and seven percent of working directors.
The numbers however were a lot higher when it came to other roles in the industry. Women made up thirteen percent of writers, seventeen percent of executive producers, twenty-four percent of producers, and seventeen percent of editors.
Clearly women can put in the work, but why the low numbers? First off I think part of this is women are way more likely to give up their careers to raise a family than men are, but honestly I think there’s not a lot of opportunity provided.
Now to be clear, I’m not saying film schools aren’t accepting of women, or film sets absolutely refuse to hire women, what I’m saying is there’s a stigma around film being “a boys thing.”
Back when I was doing research on which film school I should go to I was pretty intimidated. After all you know how to find a good medical program, or law school, but besides UCLA, how the heck was I supposed to find out which school had the best film programs?
Now fortunately I had family support throughout this whole search, but I try to imagine what it would have been like if film wasn’t “something boys do.” The pressure would basically be doubled.
It’s really unfortunate, because the women in and who taught my film school are incredibly talented filmmakers and had a talent for directing I’m still aspiring towards.
During my film school we were a small group of seven filmmakers and out of this seven only two were women. The acting school on the other hand was filled with women, and lacking in men.
Why? Because acting isn’t something “real men do.”
It’s an unfortunate truth, society still has a bunch of gender stereotypes and even though it’s 2018 and we have the first woman nominated for Best Cinematography, we’d be pretty naive to think the past doesn’t still affect us.
So what we can do? Well we fight the system of course! Encourage your friends who have passions for film and acting, help them overcome the fear of it all (there’s enough fear going into film without stereotypes, they could do without some.)
If we want more creative/innovative films, we have to start championing the ones who have the passion to make them.