Sources – Gender Parity in the Film Industry








8. – what’s difficult about being a woman filmmaker?

9. – Jodie Foster

10. – sexism stats





Source 1:
By: the UK Government, last updated 8th November 2013, accessed 12th Feburary 2014. Specific author not stated.

Content: This is the government’s page dedicated to detailing the discrimination rights of every UK citizen. From this page, one can gather the differing types of discrimination, the ways in which you could be discriminated against, how the law protects you from discrimination at work and how you can deal with discrimination. The page also discusses indirect harassment where rules are applied to everyone but manage to disadvantage a particular group of people.

Reliability: This is a very reliable source as it comes directly from the UK parliament, the governing body which determines all of the laws which affect the UK. As a result, the information it gives in dealing with discrimination fits within the law. It also has the authority to state that all employers are subject to these laws. The discrimination rights have also been debated by a number of MPs and have been written onto the site by a number of people, rather than one individual. Reliability would come into question only if the government had an obvious undemocratic stance towards discrimination. Nevertheless, although the site is reliable, discrimination is still very common within society and so, the laws stated on the page are not being strongly enforced.

How found: Searching UK employment rights on Google, first result.

Source 2:
By: The Guardian, published 31st January 2010, accessed 12th Feburary 2014, article written by Kira Cochrane.

Content: In this article, Kira Cochrane first describes the classic image of the male film director before discussing the apparent rise of female directors. Throughout the article, she constantly contrasts this rise with first-hand stories from prominent women within the film industry who each have experienced acts of sexism against them. She also contrasts discrimination against women filmmakers in the US and UK.

Reliability: The reliability of the source comes slightly into question in terms of subjectivity as the article is written by a woman and that the Guardian is well known for having a left wing stance. As a result, Kira Cochrane is able to use argumentative language to make clear her disagreement with the lack of women in the film industry. This argument is made clear in the article’s headline, “Why are there so few female film-makers?” However, Kira Cochrane bases her opinions on hard-hitting evidence such as how, by 2010, only 4 women had received Oscar nominations in the best Director category after there has been 400 best Director nominations since the birth of the Oscars. She also quotes a number of prominent women within the industry who provide very revealing insights into the level of sexism within the industry, particularly in Hollywood.

How found: Advertised as a related article on another Guardian article.

Source 3:
By: Sight & Sound magazine, article published 25th January 2013, accessed 12th February 2013, article written by Anna Coatman.

Content: The article identifies the increasing prominence of female directors within the independent film industry, constituting 40%, whilst bearing contrasts to the meagre 5% of female directors found in the mainstream industry. The writer expresses the increase of women in the indie film circuit by referring to film festivals such as the London Short Film Festival.

Reliability: Although Sight & Sound is internationally regarded as a leading film magazine, the article contains subjectivity as it is categorised under Comment, whereby the authors are free to argue whatever they like in an article and won’t be subject to the magazines lead editor, similar to The Guardian. However, Sight & Sound is famed for identifying and discussing the political elements of the film industry, making female exclusion from the industry a very hot topic. Sight & Sound is also published by the BFI, a decades-old Royal Charter organisation which acts as a figurehead for the British film industry whilst holding the National Film Archive. These factors make the BFI a very influential source within the British film industry. As a result, Sight & Sound has established links with prominent film festivals such as the LSFF which is why the author may have chosen to quote them and acquire evidence of women succeeding in the short film circuit.

How found: searching for ‘why are there so few female filmmakers’ on Google.
Source 4:
By: Directors UK, no publishing date given, accessed 12th February 2013, article written by Beryl Richards.

Content: The short article is an update on the first meeting of Directors UK’s female directors group which was held to discuss DUK’s concerns about the lack of female filmmakers. Beryl Richards describes what it was like to be at the meeting whilst adding some facts gathered from other members. She finishes the article by discussing the group’s future research plans, involving a look into the exact number of women in the media and film industries. She also adds that there will be a public meeting on these issues in the near future.

Reliability: As it has derived from the Directors and Producers Rights Society, Directors UK works like a union for UK screen directors. The organisation’s reliability is pretty strong as its purpose is to “ensure that the importance and centrality of directors is recognised, and to give directors a powerful and united voice at the centre of the industry”. This objective makes it understandable why DUK would want to tackle the issue of lacking numbers of women directors in the industry. One of DUK’s main stated aims are to “protect and enhance directors’ creative rights” which includes protecting them from bad working practices, such as sexism. The legitimacy of the organisation is also backed by the fact that their total membership consists of 5,000 directors, ranging from the internationally renowned to student directors. This shows that the organisation is interested in protecting the rights of directors of any status and is not harboured by prejudices. They also act as representatives for directors and directing in general to the UK and European governments as well as broadcasters and regulators.

How found: searching for ‘why are there so few female filmmakers’ on Google.
Source 5:
By: The Guardian, published 2nd July 2012, accessed 12th February 2014, article written by Ben Child.

Content: The article centres on Helen Mirren’s call for more women filmmakers in the film industry at a Czech film festival, mainly by questioning the amount of female filmmakers in the festival itself. The writer then links Mirren’s comments to another prestigious actress, Meryl Streep who focused her criticism on Hollywood by linking the failures of male-dominated blockbusters to the lack of representation of female characters. She then backs this up by referencing the huge success of female dominated films in recent years. The writer finishes the article by mentioning how the French feminist group, Lar Barbe, challenged organisers at the Cannes Film Festival after all 22 competing films for the Palme d’Or were directed by men.

Reliability: The article’s reliability is very credible as it mostly consists of quotations from two of the most successful and prestigious actresses in the film industry. Mirren and Streeps own first-hand experience on-set, as referred to in the piece, makes their opinions on the lack of women on set very reliable. The writer has also done well by using a british and american actress, as well as the fact that Streep targets Hollywood, whilst Mirren questions the industry as a whole, including the independent film industry. To add to the article’s reliability, it is written by a man and so can’t be criticised as subjective from a woman’s point of view.

How found: Advertised as a related article on another Guardian article.

Source 6: (a) –
(b) –
6(a) – By The Guardian, published 26th November 2013, accessed 12th February 2014, article written by Ami Sedghi.
6(b) – By the BFI, written 3rd September 2013, accessed 12th February 2014, report written by David Steele from the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit

Content: The article seems to have been written in response to the BFI’s recent statistics which suggest a “breakthrough” for female screenwriters in the UK independent film industry. The article goes on to explain the significance of the statistics, using percentages and notable names, whilst presenting the BFI’s findings in an interactive pie chart. The chart allows you to select options such as the percentage for the top UK indie films or all UK indie films in general. This structure of findings and charts repeats itself two more times as the article shifts from female screenwriters to female directors and then finishing on a bar chart presenting the gender patterns across the main film genres. The article also looks briefly into the proportion of women in director or writer roles on joint UK-USA projects.

Reliability: This article is extremely reliable as it is based entirely on data gathered by the BFI which, as the British Film Institute, has very strong links and influence within the industry and is often regarded as the home of British cinema. As a result, the BFI’s results are probably the most accurate you’re ever likely to find, particularly on UK independent cinema as one of the BFI’s roles is the exhibition and distribution of independent film. Whilst the Guardian have provided the interactive charts, it is still the BFI’s information that is contained in them. The charts are sourced as BFI RSU which links directly to a 15-page document (b) called “Succes de plume? Female Screenwriters and Directors of UK films 2010-2012”. What follows is a very detailed examination into womens’ roles in the UK film industry through stats and tables. The article is even accompanied by a downloadable spreadsheet which largely summarizes the BFI’s findings.

How found: (a) – Advertised as a related article on another Guardian article.
(b) – through a source link used on the Guardian article

Source 7:
By: IndieWire, published 5th October 2013, 18th February 2013, article written by Paula Bernstein

Content: This article discusses the responses of two prominent female filmmakers, Andrea Arnold and Naomi Foner, to the challenges of being a female filmmaker.  By discussing the two interpretations one after the other, the writer contrasts the major differences between the two directors’ opinions. Andrea Arnold’s description of the challenges is brief and largely unrevealing whilst Naomi Foner’s long-prohibited journey takes up most of the article. She even tries to pick out the qualities in women which have helped to prevent them from getting deeper into the industry. Foner’s last quote is her wish for the younger generation of women in the industry to tackle gender equality through pure empowerment, rather than struggling to break through for 30 years like she has done.

Reliability: Similarly to Source 5, the article mostly consists of quotations from the two participants and so the reliability on their part is completely based on their first-hand accounts, particularly as the two directors talk mostly about their own personal experiences. They are also a good contrast of personalities from very different backgrounds, Andrea Arnold being British and Naomi Foner being american. Whilst Andrea has been established as a writer-director for over 15 years, Foner, originally a writer and producer, has only recently made her directorial debut. As the writer-director of 3 films and the New York Film Festival’s inaugural Filmmaker-in-Residence, Arnold’s reliability in terms of her experience in the industry can never be questioned, just as Foner has enjoyed a career in film and TV since the late 1970s. IndieWire itself prides itself in being “the leading news, information and networking site for independent-minded filmmakers, the industry and moviegoers alike”. Unlike the mainstream industry, the independent film sector often discusses and debates political and social issues, making gender inequality an issue that fans of indie cinema are likely to find interest in. As a news site for the indie sector, IndieWire is likely to handle this issue with care as it most likely contributes a number of articles to its news and blog posts. Despite being written by a woman, the writer doesn’t expose her stance on the issue, but rather just reports on the event of the NYFF Live series panel and the statements of the two female filmmakers.

How Found: Googling “Andrea Arnold on female filmmakers”

Source 8:
By: X-Factor Filmmakers (YouTube Channel), Published on 5th November 2013, accessed 18th February, video created by Writer-Director Lauren Tracy

Content: The source, a 6 minute YouTube video, is the 4th video of the channel’s I’m A Female Filmmaker, Ask Me Anything series, each episode focusing on a user submitted question. This episode is centred around the question: “What’s difficult about being a woman filmmaker?”. Writer-Director Lauren Tracey discusses this question in Vlog style on a webcam.

Reliability: After conducting separate research, I found that Lauren Tracey isn’t a well established writer-director and is still in production on her first feature film, which would make her opinion on gender inequality throughout the industry as a whole quite unreliable. However, she discusses her experiences as a young, up-an-coming independent filmmaker through which she suggests that gender inequality is still present in small-scale film production but that its becoming less and less frequent as it has become so much easier to make short films. Despite the increase, she exposes how she still encounters surprise when she tells people that she’s a filmmaker, on the basis that she is a female filmmaker and that even in the short film industry, women directors are a lot less common. She also expresses some knowledge on the gender inequality within the mainstream industry and draws a link between the decrease in female mainstream directors with the rise in prosperity of the independent sector as an attraction to more female directors. To conclude, although she is not in the position to comment much on why there are so few female filmmakers in the mainstream industry, she has a first-hand perspective on the level of gender inequality in the US independent industry.

How found: searching “women in the film industry” on YouTube.

Source 9:
By: SuperPopINTERVIEWS (YouTube Channel), Published on 23rd January 2014, accessed 18th February, Jodie Foster being interviewed at the Beaver Press COnference at the 64th Cannes Film Festival.

Content: The video is a 2 minute interview with Jodie Foster at the the Beaver Press COnference at the 64th Cannes Film Festival. The video mostly consists of her discussing the lack of female directors in mainstream films. She draws attention to the positive rise of female directors in the independent sectors, in Europe particularly, as opposed to the US mainstream industry, despite the recent success of Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman to win an Oscar. Unlike any of the previous sources, she pin-points the issue of the mainstream industry as big-budget executives not willing to take creative risks with woman. She describes this both as a money-saving venture but particularly a psychological issue that has been built up over time.

Reliability: The source is very reliable as it is simply a recording of Jodie Foster giving her opinion on women in the industry at a Festival conference. Foster herself is a very prestigious actress who, now at the age of 51, has been acting on screen since she was 3 years old and has won multiple awards for her performances. She has also directed two feature films.This wealth of experience makes her a valuable insight into the film industry, particularly as she has performed in both the independent and mainstream sectors, and thus a very reliable source.

Source 10:
By: New York Film Academy, Published 25th November 2013, accessed 18th February, author – Nicholas Zurko.

Content: The article begins with an introduction that sets out the purpose of the investigation, to analyse the advancements, if there have been any, for women in the film industry. It starts off by referencing positive signs of advancement with the female-led Hunger Games sequel and the fact that women constituted 50% of the directors at 2013’s Sundance Film Festival. In order to spark the discussion on how gender inequality can be tackled in the film industry, the article is then led by very professional-looking charts and illustrations which are very accessible and cover a variety of aspects within gender inequality in the film industry such as the portrayal of women in film and the least female-occupied roles.

Reliability: The New York Film Academy is renowned world-wide as a very prestigious Film School, with a campus in both New York and Los Angeles. As a result, it has extremely good links with the US film industry, particularly as it prides itself in teaching a number of children belonging to numerous directors, actors and producers such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Al Pacino. Nevertheless, the investigation’s perspective seems very American-based although it never specifies which countries and which sectors these statistics apply to. Despite the exceptional high quality of the charts and diagrams, it is never mentioned where the information has been sourced from, unlike the guardian article in Source 6. There is also no information on the article’s author, Nicholas Zurko, as to whether he is a student or teacher. Although neither of these options are full-time industry professionals, it is likely that many teachers and speakers at the New York Film Academy are part-time industry professionals. Even a student would have some level of reliability as it is likely they have gathered the information with help from one of the Academy’s teachers or visiting speakers, or have been encouraged to research this information at a professional level.

How Found: Googling “women in the film industry stats”

Source 11:
By: CNN website, published 1st July 2013, accessed 18th February 2014, written by Melissa Silverstein.

Content: The article examines the theory that Hollywood executives “don’t trust that people want to see [womens’] stories” which has led to mainstream cinema being hijacked by male-dominant stories and genres such as last year’s The Wolverine and The Fast and the Furious. She contrasts this with the success of certain mainstream films about women, such as Bridesmaids, as well as the success of small-scale women directors. However she makes a clear point that without more women both behind and in front of camera, society will be subconsciously taught that women don’t matter as much as men.

Reliability: This article is extremely reliable as it is written by Melissa Silverstein who is the founder and editor of the Women and Hollywood magazine which focuses on issues relating to women in the film industry and some areas of entertainment culture in general. As the magazine argues for “gender parity across the entertainment industry”, it is clear that Silverstein is well informed of the gender inequality suffered by women in Hollywood, the heart of the mainstream film industry. Silverstein is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of the Athena Film Festival, which celebrates stories about women leadership. She is also the author of In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing which holds a collection of stories and experiences from some of the top women in the film industry, including documentary filmmakers. These actions and publications demonstrate how she is devoting her life to the struggle for gender parity within the film industry and the strengthening of the female image within society.
How Found: Googling “Glass ceiling in the film industry”

Source 12:
By: CNN’s Leading Women, published 9th October 2012, Accessed 18th February 2014, written by Felicia Taylor

Content: The article consists mostly of an interview with Donna Langley, the Co-Chairman of Universal Pictures. After giving a brief overview of her history within the industry, the interview focuses on areas such as the challenges of rising through a male-dominated industry and how she balances her family life. The article is accompanied by a 5 minute video which illustrates most of the article and gives the audience an idea of her work at Universal Pictures.

Reliability: Its difficult to question the reliability of the article as it mostly consists of recordings of Donna Langley herself and her own experiences, nevertheless, you can never tell what has been edited out from a hand-recorded interview. The article is definitely pro-gender parity as it is categorised under CNN’s Leading Women section. However, CNN is owned by Time Warner who, by owning Warner Bros., is one of the most influential corporations in Hollywood and, thus, the mainstream film industry. As a result, it is clear why this article hasn’t questioned the level of gender inequality within Hollywood as it could give off a negative image of Warner Bros. Melissa Silverstein was able towho didn’t target individual studios by name, rather than a full-time CNN employee.

How found: Advertised as a related article on another CNN article.

Source 13:
By: Neon Tommy (USC School for Communication and Journalism), published 8th August 2013, Accessed 18th February 2014, written by Elizabeth Cutbirth

Content: the article covers what many of the above sources have mentioned, such as the prominence of female directors like Kathryn Bigelow and top actresses like Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren. However, the source then focuses on a recent study by the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism into female representation within mainstream films. They also link this to the amount of female directors and the tiny 1% increase since 1998. The article finishes with mentioning how, whilst Kathreyn Bigelow has become the first woman to win Best Director at the Academy Awards, a woman has still yet to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival. This last point hints at the debate as to whether gender parity being much better in the independent industry.

Reliability: This article is not totally professional as it belongs to a university student website although that university happens to be the prestigious University of Southern California’s School for Communication & Journalism, meaning that student work will be expected to be of a high level. Unlike the New York Film Academy page, the article sources its stats such as The Women’s Media Centre which found that “Women comprised 9% of directors of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2012”. Whilst The Women’s Media Centre is a very well-informed source, the author also quotes stats from a study carried out by the School of Journalism & Communication itself. Although the School probably deals with research to a professional standard, its hard to tell how reliable the information is, particularly as we are given no idea of their methods. The information would feel more reliable even if the article was quoting a study from a different institution.

How Found: Googling “women in the film industry stats”

Source 14:
By: Fandor, no publishing date given, accessed on 19th March 2014, no author given.

Content: the source is a nicely designed info-graphic which presents statistics concerning female directors in the independent film industry, such as a surprising revelation that female directors in Hollywood have actually been decreasing since 1998.

Reliability: The infographic has been compiled by Fandor, a US site which is a subscription- based streaming service for independent films, as well as short films, art-house rarities and forgotten classics. Unlike the New York Film Academy infographic, Fandor sources its information from The Atlantic, IndieWire, The New York Times, Sundance Institute and Women in Film. This is a great collection of sources as two of them are newspapers/magazines which, in the name of journalism, have access to information like this. The other sources are involved directly with the independent film industry, particularly IndieWire and Sundance Institute. Women in Film is dedicated to the emporwerment, promotion and mentoring of women in the entertainment and media industries. It does this by assisting female independent directors and providing funding programs and educational seminars. These well-connected sources make the information displayed in the info-graphic extremely reliable.


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