In many ways, 2017 was the year of the woman in the film industry. Revelations of systemic sexual harassment of women (and sometimes men) rocked the entertainment world -- snaring Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, Garrison Keillor, and many others, and spawning the #MeToo movement.
And, if you watched this week's Golden Globes, you surely noticed all the Time's Up buttons proudly displayed by attendees in support of addressing systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace.
But, while women are finally being heard in Hollywood, a study released yesterday by researcher Dr. Martha Lauzen at San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women and Television and Film clearly shows that they still aren't being seen -- at least not behind the camera.
According to the report, titled "Celluloid Ceiling," in 2017, women comprised just 18 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This figure is just slightly more than the 17 percent measured in 1998 -- a gain of just 1 percent in the past 20 years.
What's even more surprising is that, among the top 250 domestic grossing films in 2017...
- 88 percent had no women directors
- 83 percent had no women writers
- 45 percent had no women executive producers
- 28 percent had no women producers
- 80 percent had no women editors
- 96 percent had no women cinematographers
This despite the fact that female-directed feature films pulled in a huge $1.2 billion globally in 2017, proving that women have what it takes to make films people want to see.
My daughter is a young film director and producer, so I have a vested interest in this subject. But beyond that, it's hard to understand why there are such disparities in an industry that is so much a reflection of the very creative people within it.
Only one woman has ever won an Oscar for Best Director, with only four women nominated for Best Director since the Academy Awards began in 1929. The same is true for the Golden Globes -- just one Best Director win by a woman, and only four female nominees in the entire 75-year history of the awards.
Clearly, there is much work to be done, beginning with a major cultural shift in the film industry. I personally hope that my daughter -- and the many other women in film -- one day have an equal place in Hollywood. Says Dr. Lauzen,
"This is not only an employment issue. It is also a safety issue for women who work on film sets. And it is a larger cultural issue because the people who tell our stories control our culture."