“Women have been trained in our culture and society to ask for what we want instead of taking what we want. We’ve been really indoctrinated with this culture of permission. I think it’s true for women, and I think it’s true for people of color. It’s historic, and it’s unfortunate and has somehow become part of our DNA. But that time has passed. “
– Ava DuVernay
The stigma surrounding the hiring of women directors is negative, negative, and more negative. The idea is that women need the experience to do the job. BUT they need to get hired to get experience. It’s a vicious cycle with no end. There are also fewer women because they are told they cannot do the job. This means there are fewer people to hire from. AND the obvious rules of sexism still in play say women can’t do the job. It has also been said that women don’t want to direct big budget movies, furthering the idea that women don’t want the job. This is all perfectly wrapped up in a neat bow punctuated by the recent DGA changes in January.
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) certainly ratified in their new contracts, that in order for a new director to come in for a Television Series they have to take a course, a sort of master class. The new rule also stipulates that the person being hired has to have aspirations to do this a career and not as a one off. This new rule many believe is to stall the diversifying of the Guild. Directors as statics show are still majority white and male. This rule also seeks to stop writers for shows and actors on shows from branching out in the Director field.
As many know the industry is shifting from the big screen to the small screen. In Television the writers hold the power and Directors are expendable, while in Film Directors are the star of the show.
This new rule is set against anyone not already in the DGA tipping the scale in the White Male’s favor.
This all leads back to the notion that men get hired without experience because they are initially seen as more capable of doing the work. The question we have to ask ourselves is where does this idea come from? Why can’t women direct what they want just like men can?
Well, one director seeks to change that perspective and it has sparked a small movement within the TV Industry. Ava DuVernay’s show Queen Sugar on OWN, which had a very successful first season, was directed entirely by women (a majority of women of color). These women were directors for features but hadn’t been given a shot at TV. One has to wonder if the DGA contract was in place a year ago would DuVernay’s dream have been realized? It was DuVernay’s hope that giving these extraordinary women a leg up that it would further push in the efforts for the Film Industry to diversify.
DuVernay’s call to action has been answered by Netflix. The second season of Jessica Jones will be entirely directed by Women.
Many also have hopes for the new Wonder Woman movie, the first superhero film to be directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins). This many hope will deter the idea women don’t want to direct big budget films, when in fact, the opposite is true.